22

When she was 22 the future looked bright
But she’s nearly 30 now and she’s out every night
I see that look in her face, she’s got that look in her eye
She’s thinking how did I get here and wondering why
22 – Lily Allen

Lily goes on to sing about this woman’s sad life. No boyfriend, no career, heavily involved in the bar scene every night.

While some would argue there is nothing sadder than an older woman without a career or man in her life, I now have often passed similar judgements on twenty two year olds.  Not so much about how sad it was without a man or career, but how they had not yet found any meaning or importance in their life other than going out on the weekend and  cute boys.

For my writing project on Indonesia I have had to sift through approximately 150 emails during my time in Java, where I celebrated my 22nd birthday. Truly, I was expecting the worst. I am soo much wiser now, centred and good at making decisions. I was expecting the naive musings of a fresh university grad – the difficult times I went through hadn’t happened yet, so obviously I would not have any of the scope I do now.

Instead:

My writing was better, out of a very writing centred major (History), and also taking into consideration that most of the writing was rushed, done at an internet cafe and to my best friend.

We wrote about sex a lot more. I also wrote a surprising amount about spirituality. I touched on cultural differences and the injustices of the lottery of life. How did I win and end up growing up in a stable, wealthy country?

At 22 I was in touch with a wide circle of girl friends that I’ve since lost touch with. I don’t really remember anyone having a serious boyfriend, no one was living with anyone anyway. Our support group straight out of university was each other. Now the majority of women I know live with their partner or husband, have full time work or are parenting a kid or two. We just don’t have as much time to dissect each other’s personal life. We are lucky to see each other every couple of weeks. It’s just the reality.

There are walls now too. I would no longer go into the details that I would have at that time. We are a lot more aware of boundaries between relationships with partners, immediate family and friends.

If I could, I would take myself at 22 our for a drink and a walk. I’m not sure if I was yet into walking like I am now. I would admire her enthusiasm and energy. I would also tell her to chill out. That she did not need to have all of the answers immediately. That life had been pretty perfect up until that point, but, that she would be able to get through everything it was going to throw at her. I would be jealous of  the people she was going to meet and the things she would get to do. I’d also tell her to be a little more reckless, have more fun, and spend more time dancing with cute boys.

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