Tomorrow, I turn 23 years old. It’s a rather unremarkable age in theory. I am past the birthday milestones that are marked with coming-of-age celebrations: I can legally drive a car, I am a registered voter, I have purchased tobacco products, and I have legally drank and purchased alcohol.
And yet, I think that there is something significant about this birthday that makes it different from birthdays past: this is the first birthday where I haven’t been as concerned with taking stock of what’s ahead, but rather, concerned with what I’ve already done (or more accurately, what I haven’t done yet).
I know why this is the first time I’ve seen my age like this: this is my first birthday since I have graduated college, and thus, the first year in which I am truly in control of the direction of my life. In theory, this control means that I can now dictate the pace at which I live my life. This pace determines how soon it will be until I have traveled where I have wanted to travel, worked where I have wanted to work, lived where I have wanted to live, loved the way I have wanted to love, and more broadly, achieved some degree of the success I have wanted to achieve.
And yet, at the age of 23, I am already feeling the first, soft prods of failure. I don’t think that I am a failure, but part of me is wondering why I am not doing some of the things that I dream about doing. Why haven’t I touched more people with the work that I do, and the things that I love? Why am I allowing myself to check out mentally at 10pm at night, but not sleep until 3am? When will I be done “resting for tomorrow” and instead, be “energized to continue the next day”?
My expectations for myself are higher than ever before, because I no longer have an excuse to hide behind. I’m not finishing college. I’m not too busy. And I’m not without motivation to improve myself.
I suppose my hope for year 23 is that I will not be one year closer to my goals, but sincerely be only one year away from achieving at least one of them. I can say I’m thankful that I made it this far into my life in good health and bright spirits. But I’m ready for more.
To 23 years of life, and a new year where I’m hungrier for success than the last.