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Be careful what you wish for. That’s what they always tell you when your daydreams start to cloud your line of vision. It’s easy to romanticize anything and everything outside of your reality. When you fantasize excessively about how the future could be, you forget that the present is currently slipping through your fingers. The tomorrows of our lives will often look better than the right now. There’s something alluring about the futureーit doesn’t matter if you’re wondering what will happen in the next five minutes or the next five years. Younger me idealized getting older; she clearly thought that the grass was greener on the other side. Saying goodbye to my childhood became a delayed grief for me because I was far too excited to finally be a teenager. Obviously, what I faced was not at all like those coming-of-age stories streaming on Netflix. I was in over my head and knee-deep in disappointment, so the logical step moving forward was to dream about the freedom that my twenties would grant me. Oh yes, a decade in my life where I would no longer suffer from my shortcomings. Teenage turmoil was often comforted by the idea that my twenties would be easier, a breeze. Nobody told me that the wind would knock me right off my feet.

You don’t need to roll your eyes at me, dear reader. Spoiler alert, I was terribly mistaken. If I thought that I had been wrong to think that my upcoming teen years would be the time of my life as a kid, I will be releasing a notes app apology to my fans about how humbling my twenties are. Consider this my public statement. As I find myself crawling towards my impending mid-twenties, I feel like a tall child who doesn’t understand the rules of the game and is struggling to participate. I’ve reached a point in my life where Google Maps no longer works, even my live location knows that I am stranded, and nobody’s coming to my rescue. Lost. That’s what I’ve been for quite some time. 

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CBC / GIPHY

You need to save yourself,” is the lesson that I should communicate. Sure, it’s important to pick ourselves up. But in my twenties, I feel the need to do that every day. I prop myself up on shaky legs and wait for the next disaster to send me down. The season finale showdown has become a daily routine. I think I missed some introductory courses on how to be an adult and asking for someone else’s notes is frowned upon. I am growing more impatient with myself by the minute and those around me rarely offer comfort. They seem to have a doctorate in adult studies and would rather brag than throw me a bone. I wish someone would try to pick me up. Dust me off and tell me that things are going to work out. It’s as if I’m swimming against the current, foolishly dreaming of a different outcome while my body gets dragged deeper into the sea.

You’ve got people on one end telling you that you have all the time in the world. Take a deep breath; you’re still just a kid. Then you have other members of the jury screaming in your ear about the cruel passage of time, how it takes more than it gives. You need to pull yourself together because your prime passes you in the blink of an eye. They want you to think about a retirement plan before your brain has even fully developed.

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20th Television / GIPHY

I was never informed that the rest of my days, my happiness, and my dreams would depend on the groundwork that I laid down during this decade of my life. I had no idea such a big assignment was due. Oh, the many ways that my present could hinder my future. Any time being in your twenties was mentioned when I was younger, it was to reminisce on what those around me painted as the best years of their lives. If I had a drink every time one of my relatives would say “I would give anything to be in my twenties again”, I would need to get my stomach pumped. They poisoned my mind: I was ready for a party and all I’ve gotten are reality checks. Left and right, I am the most humble I’ve ever been.  If these are supposed to be my best years, then I am in for quite the A24 indie horror film when it comes to my worst. 

My insecurities have become customizable jewelry that complete any outfit. Fading into the background when I’m preoccupied but the second my thoughts clear, I hyper fixate on what people might think of me. I am far too big now to curl up into myself like a snail, hoping to disappear in plain sight. Parts of me beg to be seen, recognized as someone of importance but I worry that I will fail to rise to the occasion. What happened to the confident twenty-something year old that I was supposed to blossom into? How can I find her within a person that changes on the outside but fears letting go of who she was? Those other areas of myself that I know I need to work on are a hug from an old friend, a childhood home, my old favorite pair of shoes. They will continue to fit as long as I force them to, but I’ve outgrown them. The girl I used to be, the one I want to make proud, isn’t who I am anymore. Through the foggy lens of my twenties, I try to see who I am turning into, the woman that will make all of this worth it.

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Renaissance Pictures / GIPHY

Being proud of myself is a stretch because it seems like I am so behind everyone else. Something has to be wrong with me; there are people my age that are thriving. I sometimes think that I might be the gum at the bottom of their shoes, placed there to contrast how much they shine. I’m happy for them but I fear that I might not be cut out for the dreams that I have. I always have the underlying fear that I might never get to laugh all of this off someday, that I will be stuck in a loop. Always hoping for a future that only seems to repeat a disappointing present. How many more comfort films do I need to rewatch before I feel okay? How many more dates will I take myself on before I stop feeling lonely? It’s so isolating, to be so out of control in a life that others claim is yours. Right now, I feel like a stranger, missing myself like crazy. 

I know, in the very bottom of my heart, that things could work out. I am trying not to long for my thirties, there is no fairness in placing all my energy towards what the future could be. While it’s necessary to always plan ahead, facing the present is a sign of bravery. I am a dreamer; it’s in my nature to walk around in my mind when I cave into the pressure. But even though my twenties give off the impression that they are a nightmare constructed by my greatest enemy, the learning experiences will probably be a bragging point for me when I finally do thrive. Growing can be painful, alienating us from familiarity. But growing up can also be beautiful, nudging us onto where we need to be. It can be an isolating experience, where even those our own age can’t quite understand us but it can shape our minds, molding the person who will be ready to seize the opportunities that we may long for. While the twenties are a most humbling process, they are also the starting point for so many good things. They might seem horrible right now but they will bloom just as we do, waiting for the perfect moment to let themselves be known.

Elisabet Ramírez is an Education in English major, with a minor in Acting. An artist at heart, she enjoys writing short stories, comedy routines and scripts. You can always find her typing furiously in the notes app on her phone or learning the dialogue from movie scenes by heart.