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“This will be a year you never forget.” 

 

I’d say “take a shot” everytime a professor, family member, or employer uttered those words, but that’s a one way ticket to alcohol poisoning (though maybe it will make us actually forget this turbulent year). 

 

I can’t say every moment of this year has been awful for me. Before the pandemic hit, I was in the best period of my life so far. I was a junior in college, living in my first home, managing straight As while staying out until 2 with no problem, and waking up for work at 8 the next morning. Somewhere in the timestream, the first week of March 2020 still exists. A girl in ripped fishnets sits on a couch, knowing she’ll have to finish her response on Joyce in the morning, still thinking she’ll spend her spring break in Ireland. 

 

Spoilers: I spent it back at my parent’s house eating ice cream, hiding under my Batman-print, twin-sized duvet, and  fearing COVID-19. Not the way many 21-year-olds imagine spending their notorious semester break.  

 

Now, it’s November. The United States is seeing COVID cases soar, with the New York Times reporting 235 thousand deaths nation-wide. The country is eagerly waiting for the results of the presidential election. No one’s gotten a full night’s sleep in days. Selfishly, I’m thinking about my 22nd birthday. 

 

Sure, there’s a little part of my brain throwing a pity party about not being able to celebrate with friends. Most of my brain is just anxious. 

 

As I obsessively refreshed my Twitter feed, looking for the election updates I knew wouldn’t be there, I saw the British indie-rock band, The Wombats, posted a tweet celebrating the 13th anniversary of A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation, a defining album of my eighth grade experience. This antidote seems random, but it wasn’t until I saw that tweet, I remembered the lyric “a small piece of advice, that took twenty-two years in the making” from the album’s second single ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division.’ 

 

I remember at age 14, I heard that lyric and physically recoiled at the mere thought of being 22. I thought 22 was old and boring. That at 22, I’d probably be a boring housewife with a corporate job and no hope or joy. Very rude of past-me. I apparently looked over the previous lyric, where the speaker refers to “this little boy’s brain.” Because at nearly 22, I still feel like a little girl, who is barely employed and far from being anyone’s housewife. 

 

22 is scary because I’ve known what I will “do next” my whole life. After kindergarten, you go to first grade, after middle school you go to high school, after high school you go to college. Now, I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

 

My parents are graying, my grandparents are slowly down. The baby sister that I helped raise is in college now. One day my body will ache when I move and I’ll lose the ability to run on four hours of sleep. I’m graduating into a recession with an English degree. That’s scary. 

 

But for now, I’m young and that’s scary too. Maybe one day I’ll be old, and I’ll forget this chaotic year…but probably not.

Sabrina Merritt is currently studying for an English degree with a concentration in professional writing and rhetoric. Her highest passions are tabletop role-playing and learning about how to be an environmentally-friendly consumer.
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