How it Feels to be in Your 20s in 2020

A short essay about adolescence

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I think it’s expected to felt left behind at times.

Like when you’re walking in a group of threes, the path begins to narrow, and one of you must choose at that moment to stand behind, breaking the three into a duo. And for a slight second, you feel as if you’ve been cast aside, but the feeling quickly fizzles out as reason and logic take over.

Or when you haven’t been through the typical coming of age experiences people your age have. You slink back in conversations about getting in trouble, partying, relationships because you realise something is missing from what you and your friends have been through.

I’ve felt both these things as I imagine many people have, but the closer I get to 25 I’ve begun to felt a whole new feeling of left behind.

I wonder if it’s something I feel due to my relentless anxiety? Is this just a thing where I’m pretending that the broken part of my brain must be normal, so I don’t have a billionth breakdown about my instability? Or is this an expectation that’s been placed upon us by entrenched media propaganda about Vine & TikTok stars who become millionaires at the meer age of 18?

I think objectively I’m aware that I have worth, that no matter where my path in life leads me, I will end up where I’m meant to be. But is that just wishful thinking? Am I merely tricking myself into believing that so I don’t fall into the Alice in Wonderland sized rabbit hole of fixating on how inadequate I am?

Shit, that’s a lot of questions.

Earlier today, my therapist told me that I tend to co-create my disappointment when my fantasy of the world doesn’t come true. And all I could do is smile in awkward agreeance because since the age of 15 I always prayed that I would be happy by the age of 22.

Here I am at 22, and I’m not happy. I just feel stuck.

It’s taboo to admit this because as a woman (let alone as a Black Muslim Woman), I must be humbled by the way I go about things but there’s a part of myself so full of ego and self-gratification that I feel sick writing these words. It sits there at the back of my mind reminding me of my potential and how I’m wasting my time, the thought circles my brain like a vulture waiting to pick at the carcass of my self-esteem.

And more and more I feel as if I’m losing a battle to myself, I can’t try to create anything without the shouting voices in my mind telling me I will either be the worlds best writer or a forgotten joke. The only way I drown them out is by drowning myself out from the world. Distractions pile up to nullify the arguing I can’t bear to hear anymore.

Perhaps I’ll read this in five years and chuckle at my misfortune and childlike melancholy. I’ll say that I was overemotional and expected too much too soon. But for now, that’s what it feels like, and it eats me up alive.

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