I turn 23 at the end of July, meaning I was the baby of my grade all through my academic career. Being the youngest (among other things) somehow made me feel uncool and likely had an effect on my ridiculous effort to prove just the opposite. Self-expression was key here. I found identity in a flowy skirt, Converse sneakers and a Rolling Stones t-shirt in the 8th grade. “Woah, Lane, that look sounds way chill already—how’d you manage to make it even chiller?” you ask? Braces and a DIY hemp necklace, obviously! The universe had surely never seen anything this edgy. I remember feeling like a fraud but also a badass when asked, “Can you even name a Rolling Stones song?” and responding only with a panicked “yes—of course!” before fleeing the room immediately.
I can name close to 10 (lmao, boom) Rolling Stones songs now, but in many ways I still carry around that same confidence-meets-self-consciousness. It’s this stupid thing where I don’t care what people think about me so much so that I want them to know just how much I don’t care. I believe “caring” is what that’s actually called. So just to reiterate: sometimes it’s hard to feel like an adult.
Reflecting on the year, it bums me out to realize how hard I’ve been on myself. Whether that meant kicking myself for not living up to an expectation or kicking myself for being “too much” or kicking myself for not being enough, there was always a reason to kick. But the thing is, all we can do most of the time is try to exist as we are.
That said, I’ll keep this short and sweet with three pieces of advice for those entering their first year after college.