A story with an expiration date

 

“You have to come home at some point, you know. And don’t fall in love either. I’ll miss you too much if you stay.”

I laughed at my mother’s words as she hid the tears behind her sunglasses. I took it as a joke, but I knew she was at least half serious.

With my luggage in one hand,  carry on gripped in the other, I gave my family one last hug goodbye as I headed to security. Continue reading A story with an expiration date

I’m Feelin’ 22 (Wait, How Am I Supposed To Feel?)

I turned 22 yesterday, for those of you who missed the memo on every single one of my social media pages. I’m a birthday princess, sorry.

Anyways, I felt entitled to immediately wake up and listen to “22” by Taylor Swift to live up to the basic b*tch type that I am. As I’m singing along, “I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22!” I couldn’t help but think, what exactly am I supposed to feel?

I feel like I’m in a constant tug of war with society. One end is pulling me into the “real world,” shoving life lessons down and responsibilities down my throat while the other end is jerking me towards an “I Don’t Give a F*ck” young-twenty-something-YOLO type of lifestyle.

Here’s where I’m at:

I can’t taste the difference between Malbec and Pinot Noir, nor do I really care. Red wine is red wine, and I’ll still buy the cheapest bottle.

I don’t have a boyfriend, but I would be ready for a serious relationship if the right one came along (I think).

I don’t know how to fill out a tax form, and probably will still ask my mom how to in 5 years.

I don’t like getting “white girl wasted” anymore.  Gone are the days of blackouts and toppling over on the sidewalk with $13 Charlotte Russe heels. I’ve made the conscious decision to avoid the adjective that is “sloppy.” (Let’s forget about the 48 hour hangover I had last weekend).

My freshman-year wardrobe makes me want to cringe. Throwing away my completely see through shirts and neon Forever 21 body-con dresses was a liberating day for me. LOFT, J. Crew, and Banana Republic are my new BFFs.

I won’t grind with you. At a bar, at a house party, at a club. Anywhere. The idea of grinding with you brings back memories of juvenile high school dances; with the lights on and me shamelessly dancing up on your junk with my math teacher watching from 20 feet away. No thanks.

I want a tattoo, but I’ll put it in a spot that can be hidden under my work clothes.

I’m essentially broke, but I still plan on moving across the country in a couple of months, even if I don’t have a set job in place. My savings account has been essentially non-existent since my abroad trip (that was a year ago, but whatever), and I suck at budgeting my money.

I don’t know what classifies as “good benefits,” and I don’t really even get what benefits are. If I get a job offer that offers these said “benefits,” my parents will be telling me if I should take it or not.

I’m driven, I have goals, and I’m career-focused. I’d rather stay in on Wednesday, even if I’m supposed to “live it up” as a senior. I’m not wasting my time on shitty guys, and I’m not into “just fucking around,” anymore. I want to have my life together, even if it’s currently all over the place.

Do you see where my problem is? I’m not quite YOLO-ing my life away, but I’m also not going to pass up that extra tequila shot that I definitely shouldn’t have.  I feel as though I’m stuck between two “twenty-something” demographics of how society wants me to act. One is telling me to be a responsible, contributing member of society, while the other is telling me to not give a flying f*ck because YOLO. It’s two ends of the spectrum and I can’t seem to resonate with either.

What am I supposed to feel? Should I travel the world or pay my college loans off first? Am I supposed to have my life figured out or should I drink shit vodka and kiss random strangers? I don’t know. But stop telling me how to act.

In a couple of months, college is kicking me out. It’s sending me into the “real world,” as some people say. I’ll have bills, responsibilities, and challenges that I’ve never faced before. However, how exactly do you define the “real world,” and why are you acting as if my life is completely over? I don’t need to get a real job right away, but that doesn’t mean I’ll continue to party to like I’m still in college. And if I do, who cares? Maybe my taste in guys might get a bit more mature, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop hooking up with random people. That doesn’t make me “sad” or “lonely” because I’m not in a serious relationship yet. It means I’m waiting for one of those random guys to turn into something more. It means I don’t want to settle. 

I’d love to travel the world immediately after college. I would love to fit my life in a backpack and a hop on a plane to wherever without any set plans or destinations. I’d love to go to Iceland, Thailand, and any other -land you can think of. It’s a dream of mine. However, financially, I can’t afford to right away. That doesn’t mean I’ll be wasting my life away behind a cubicle and starting a family immediately. My life isn’t over at the age 22. In my opinion, it’s just beginning. I can travel, and do whatever the hell I want, when I want. And I’ll do it on my own time and terms, not yours. 

The “real world,” is world that we construct for ourselves. It’s not something to fear or avoid, it’s something to embrace. I’m tired of reading articles saying “24 Things You Need To Know Before Your 24,” or “20 Places All 20-Somethings Need To Travel To.” What is so bad about deciding your own fate? Who’s to say I can’t take my future kids to one of these 20 ~*eXoTiC*~ places? Does it make me less of a person if I buy a round of expensive tequila shots when my college loan bill is due the next day? All I’m asking is for you to stop putting pressure on me. Stop judging me based on my age.

Just stop telling me what to do.

We act as though life after our 20’s is a dangerous black hole, and we should do everything we can now, before it’s too late. Does that mean I’m not feelin’ 22? How am I supposed to feel? I don’t know where I’ll be next year, never mind where I’ll be in May. I have some sort of “5 year plan” but I’ve grown to accept the nothing will go the way I’m expecting it to. So, I guess I’m just “doing me.” As you should just “do you.”

Let me enjoy my 20’s, the way I want to.

A farewell to Cape Town

I’m currently sitting on the plane about to take off from Cape Town and head home to Boston. My heart is heavy as a type this because I never thought I’d see the day where I actually had to come home. Life has been a dream these past 4 months and it’s one that I never thought I had to wake up from. Reality is starting to set in and I’m not at all sure that I’m ready for it. However, all good things must come to an end so you can appreciate how much they actually mean to you.

Is this a goodbye tribute to Cape Town? I’m not really sure. I’d like to think I will be back some day, and I’ll do everything in my power to make it happen, but if not, I know a piece of my heart will always be a part of this country. The past few days I have been reflecting on my time here and what made it so special. I certainly enjoyed the majestic scenery that I got to see on a daily basis, the $2 tequila shots, and I suppose petting a lion was pretty awesome, but all of that is just the tip of the iceberg. The question that remains is, how exactly do I define my time in Cape Town? I have been struggling to find the answer to that.

Most of us travel to find ourselves. We travel because we crave something new, something exciting, and something that puts our lives into perspective. We travel to make ourselves feel whole. Why stay in one spot when there’s so much more out there to explore? When I left Boston in January, I sat on the plane and thought about what I wanted to get out of this trip. I knew that I would never have the opportunity to do something like this again, so I wanted to make the most out of it. I made a bucket list of things I wanted to see and do, most of which I checked off. But at the end of my list, I wrote, “Become a better version of yourself. “

So, that was my mission. I didn’t want to be glued to my iPhone anymore, I didn’t want to involve myself in drama, and I didn’t want to let people stand in the way of who I wanted to be. I wanted to show the real me. The me that I don’t always get to show at home.

The magic about going abroad is that you can decide to be whoever you want to be. You start with a clean slate. You get to decide how you want people to see you as. People don’t know your past and judge you solely based on the time you spend together. My first week living with my roommates I was certainly nervous. Here I was, a naïve, typical social-media obsessed girl from America surrounded by a people who speak multiple different languages and who seemed much more intellectual than I was. Most of them didn’t care for the latest Kardashian scandal or what the WiFi password was. Rather than debating over what cheap alcohol to get, they debated over complex political ideas. I thought to myself, “Great, these people are going to hate me.”

Initially, I thought that I was going to have to try hard to have these people like me. I felt like I fell into the stereotype of a “typical American” and I tried to hard to escape it. As the weeks passed, I realized that I didn’t really need to try at all. I developed a bond with each of my roommates, without having to change really anything about myself. I wasn’t just a typical American. There are more layers to me than that, and it was a pretty cool thing to be surrounded by people who bring out the deeper side of you. The side that makes you want to put down the iPhone and just enjoy life. The side that makes you realize what truly matters and the side that makes life so much more meaningful. Here I was, living with 8 strangers who I have come to find out know me better than I know myself. They all had such a big part in helping me find out who I wanted to be.

I guess the biggest thing that Cape Town taught me was the importance of living for yourself. I’m only 21, and I am far from having my life all figured out. I often find myself trying to picture where I will be in 5 or 10 years, which I think is pretty normal, but I never really think in the present. So I let myself get lost in other people and try to picture how the present can work into my future. Sometimes this can be OK, but other times it’s important to just live with no expectations, escaping the familiar and immersing yourself into something totally different and unexpected. If you hold on too tightly to something because it’s all you’ve ever known, than you could miss out on things that could impact your life in the most beautiful ways possible.

You know those people that just make you feel good? The people who make you smile even in complete silence? Surround yourself with those people. Surround yourself people that make you happy to be you and appreciate you for who you are. Surround yourself with people that make looking at clouds and walking through gardens seem like the most incredible thing in the world. Surround yourself with people that give the word “love” a real meaning. Surround yourself with people that make you a better version of yourself, and bring out the side of you that often gets hidden by the complexities of life. Like I said, I’ve done some pretty amazing things here in Africa, but I think it’s the simple things that made the trip that it was. I can climb mountains, walk to the grocery store, and go to the beach basically anywhere in the world, but it’s what you make of these simple things that gives it meaning.

As for traveling, do it. Travel while you can. It’s OK to fear the unknown, but it’s only when we explore the unknown where we find the true beauty of life. Travel to find yourself. Home will always be home, but life certainly isn’t meant to be lived in one place. See what else is out there and I can promise you that the world won’t disappoint you. I certainly haven’t been everywhere that I want to go but I have every intention of getting there. I have found that it’s often the unexpected that can give you the greatest pleasure.

So, thank you, Cape Town, for providing me with so many laughs, memories, and people that have truly changed my life forever. Thank you for showing me that life is a precious gift and the importance of exploration and adventure. Thank you for showing me that life isn’t meant to be all planned out at such a young age.

Don’t settle for anything that holds you back from doing what you want to do. Live for yourself. Be selfish. Surround yourself with people who crave the same type of adventure that you do. Explore the world. And, most importantly, always strive to be a better version of yourself.

I’m not quite ready to wake up from this dream yet, but I know it’s time to. I’m not sure what the future holds back in the states, and I’m OK with that. It’s pretty crazy how being away has changed my outlook on the future. I came here so certain of what I wanted for myself, but certain people and certain experiences have totally changed that. The future isn’t set in stone so don’t let yourself think that it is. Whatever is meant to be, will be, and until then, I’m going to try my best to get myself into more crazy adventures and see where life takes me.

To everyone who made this trip what it was: thank you, you’re all incredible people and I will forever hold onto the hope that our paths will cross again some day. I love you endless amounts

 

Become a better person?: Check.