Hi, I’m Riley. I’m 23, and I’m slowly but surely growing up. Though I live with my parents, I went “away” for college (two hours away) and had an adult job for a total of six months before moving back in and taking a wonderful, fulfilling internship. That adult job was a horrendous, anxiety-producing gig that forced me into therapy which subsequently changed my life and helped me make better choices. The job produced a six month low, then a month-long high, but now, I’m on the brink of another low.
Life is funny that way: up down up down up up up. While I don’t want to be ruled by my circumstances, it is difficult when you’re learning things for the first time on your own and with minimal safety nets. It’s extra hard not to let your circumstances rule your mindset at my age. This new low is being brought on by a barrage of medical issues. Everything from cavities to spinal issues. But while I’m not dying, I’m still scared to death. Definitely tired as well. All the needles, bills, issues and worries pile up and weigh you down eventually. The other day, I had to fight tears back whilst getting my third numbing shot in my jaw to get a cavity filled. Normally, I wouldn’t cry about such things, but it was the exhaustion and lack of will gnawing at me.
Since my first job, I am pretty proactive about a lot of things, the main one being my health, both physical and mental. There’s a running joke about people my age wanting their parents to make doctor’s appointments, and I sincerely hope no 23 year old I know is doing so. We may be young, but we can no longer take our health for granted. We could all be one unknown allergic reaction away from death. Young people like you and I die every day. We can no longer push our mental illnesses under the rug when suicide has long been a major leading cause of death. It’s our responsibility, and who cares what others think about it anymore? YOU/WE/I HAVE TO BE FREE. Free to be ourselves, be vulnerable and open and honest and happy and carefree and everything else we want that is good and kind and strong. After attending the best college I could and dreaming of being a big official business woman in a nice suit and doing “big things,” I’ve discovered life is really as simple as that.
I’m sorry to be so morbid and frank. But while I’m growing up, I’ve realized that I am personally responsible for the opportunity to grow old. One of my biggest pet peeves is someone complaining about turning 25 or 30 or 40. PLEASE STOP. Millions of people pray to grow old. I do. Because there is so much life and love to be had with age that our society does not value or see as beautiful as these youthful years. Yes, youth is great. Most people don’t have to worry so much about health and responsibilities and you’re at your “prettiest” and your “free-est”. But sometimes, you’re also so freaking up in the air it’s dizzying. You can’t make a decision to save your life. You’re dependent on your parents for money, life advice, bail money and love. You don’t know yourself and therefore cannot love yourself correctly. You’re impatient, you accept love that is not good enough for you and on and on and on. So many of these things are figured out and not tolerated in your 30s, 40s and 50s, and it’s time we start seeing growing old as the beautiful OPPORTUNITY it is. Thank you.
Author: Riley Richards
Author Bio: Riley Richards is a recent adult. She attended the University of Florida for English, quit her first job in six months and is an incandescently happy intern living at home with her parents and French Bulldog and Pug. Follow her musings on instagram.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @rilesrichards | https://rileyrichardsblog.wordpress.com/