Nobody Likes You When You're 23

Hey Jill,

How's it going? It's you, from the future, only you haven't gotten there yet. I hope this letter finds you well, I think it'll be really helpful for you. You're probably thinking, "Wtf, helpful? I don't need help," because you're stubborn, impatient, and prideful, but trust me, you need me.

So I guess Happy Birthday. Congratulations, you're 24. Only one more year until you can rent a car on your own. After that, it's a pretty long time until you can capitalize on the Senior Citizen discounts, so live it up while you can.

Let's back up to your last birthday when you turned 23. With this letter, I wanted to give you a brief synopsis of what your year looked like and who and how you were during this time. You should enjoy this since you are fairly self-involved, self-centered, and love to dwell on things in the past.

You left Tallahassee at 22. It was brutal. You said goodbye to your boyfriend, the both of you agreeing that the best thing to do was break up. So you did. You bid your farewells to all The Boys. That was sad, too. The silver lining was that you didn't have to say goodbye to your best friends/ex-roommates, because they had already left you the summer prior. We really dodged the bullet on that one.

With Tallahassee in your rearview mirror, you drove back home to Daytona to visit your parents before continuing on to Miami where your new "big-girl" job was waiting for you. Your first. Also, you didn't technically earn it. Your aforementioned best friend/ex-roommate had connections and got you this job. This mind-fucked you for a while, but not to worry. Eventually you got over it.

After you moved in with your cousin, she did her best to be excited and show you around Miami and cheer you up. She suggested the zoo and grabbing drinks and going out and watching movies with junk food and beer. You did all those things with her and still cried. It was awkward for everyone.

Your birthday came and went. You turned an uneventful 23. It was a Monday. You went out to dinner with your family and to a Pub Crawl on South Beach that weekend. That was fun. You allowed yourself to enjoy yourself that night. It was a rare occasion.

You talked and talked about college and Tallahassee and FSU as if anyone gave a flying fuck. They didn't. I don't blame them. You were kind of a mopey bitch.

You continued to talk to your not-boyfriend. Every day. Every moment of every day. That was confusing. In order to make things not confusing, you guys "really" broke up. You know, just so everyone was on the same page. You idiot proofed the semantics of the break up by creating the boundaries. No more talking. No more Skyping. No more anything. Good luck with life.

This lasted for about two weeks until you got back together.

You did a wonderful job of alienating yourself from your friends and allowing friendships to not-so-slowly diminish. You were paranoid that they no longer wanted your friendship and were immature and jealous about the fact that they still lived together while you were "alone" (you weren't alone. Like I said, you were a mopey bitch).

Instead of trying to hang onto or rebuild or work on these friendships, you silently judged and blamed your boyfriend. You thought it was his fault that your friendships, and ultimately, your life, wasn't the same, that it wasn't "how it used to be." You were a delusional little shit who blamed everything and everyone for any ounce of dissatisfaction or sadness you felt. And you felt it. Big time, all the time. You were bitter and you let everyone know it.

For the most part, you kept to yourself. You barely talked to your aunt and uncle who did everything they could to make you feel welcome and loved and comfortable. You hated work for a little bit, not because of the people, who you actually liked, but just because it was work. What was work? At FSU work is waking up at noon instead of 1 and figuring out if you should go to the gym or Chipotle or to continue drinking. Decisions, decisions. (Usually it was all three. In that order. Rinse and repeat).

Your main attributes were that you were quiet, reserved, sad, unhappy, nostalgic, and of course, bitter. The most bitter anyone could be. And you did it on purpose, because you're unpleasant. When asked "How do you like Miami?" Your standard response was always a very flat, "I don't."

But, you never knew you didn't. At least not really. You refused to give anything a chance. Granted, you and me, we hate the super Cuban accent and the shitty traffic and expensive drinks and how spread out everything is in that humid, humid, city. That never changed. Still, though, you didn't give it a chance. You didn't take advantage of being somewhere somewhat new, didn't want to explore what the city had to offer.

You did pick up running again, which was nice. The long distance allowed you to work out and eat better once more, as opposed to being all content and relationship fat. You did a few things here and there in an effort to get outside of your head, i.e. run club, joining a gym, pole dancing classes and yoga classes. None of it really lasted though, you still felt like you were in purgatory the whole time.

You didn't feel like "yourself." You did everything you thought you had to do or that you were supposed to do, things you thought were expected of you. You told yourself that fun was no longer to be had and your days of being a carefree college student forever drunk wild and turned up to 11 were gone. Dead. O-v-e-r.

And even though you knew that social media was Satan's asshole of people bragging and exaggerating about their lives and happiness, it absolutely blew your mind seeing people from your graduating class at FSU move on with their lives and onto new things in new places, seemingly without looking back or a second glance. You couldn't figure out why this was so hard for you, while the rest of Facebook and Instagram smiled for the camera and hashtagged their way to happiness.

There was no middle ground between having one foot in the "adult" world and one in the "kid" world. You just went full force adult. Spending Saturdays cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, doing laundry, reading, and other things equally monotonous and mind numbing but that you told yourself made you happy (what the fuck does "happy" mean???). Time spent doing anything else made you anxious. Actually, everything made you anxious. You went through a brief stint of giving up coffee in the hopes that that might help. It did for a little. Still, your neuroticism and anxiety and stress levels were astronomical and you had more episodes that year than ever before.

It wasn't until the tail end of your year in Miami that you started to reemerge as pieces of how you used to be. You started to feel alive again. It took a long time, but you realized that you had started and created new friendships and worked on your existing ones, patching up the places where they were wounded. You started to realize how much hate you carried with you for the year and voiced this revelation to multiple people, admitting your mistakes or poor choices and openly talking about your shite attitude and negativity. You went out more and with less guilt. You hung out with your awesome co-workers. And you dove into writing. Miami was the first place you ever shared your writing with people, and it opened up an entirely new realm of goals and possibilities for yourself that you never knew you had or thought you wanted. You started to think seriously about writing and where it could take you.

You started thinking about where you could take yourself.

In the end, you realized that it's only in saying goodbye how sweet things were and how much more bittersweet it makes the goodbyes. You realized that you spent the majority of 23 in a catatonic state and closed off to not only those around you, but to yourself and who you really believed you were. You realized that you fell in love with your friends and having fun with them again. Leaving didn't feel real until you hugged each of them goodbye and started walking to your car on a Sunday morning. But, it hit you. As we both knew it would. You cried for a sufficient amount of time while you drove yourself home, remembering with a smile all the good times and memories as the music played on in Roxanne.

Tomorrow, you'll leave for Austin, Texas to embark on a new adventure. It's been 10 years since you've lived in the Lone Star State, and this time it's a completely different situation. You're not moving with your family. You're not going for school. You're meeting your boyfriend out there: your rock, teammate, partner in crime, and biggest pain in the ass. He'll be your new roommie. You're both scared shitless about all the things that could go wrong, but you've got faith. He does, too.

Happy Birthday, you miserable old bitch. Good luck. You're gonna do great.

Love,
Jillian

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