Maybe I’m behind but I’ve never heard of “The Jordan Year” until my friends started turning 23. Named and numbered after the greatest basketball player to ever grace the court, this year really is wonderfully different. The hype of being 20 is minimal at best. It adds no dramatic change other than our exit from the teen world, and because we’re really not legal enough to do anything new, it really just serves as a spot filler. And it's not like being 21 because that year is about the pride we take in whipping out our own I.D.s to every bouncer or liquor store clerk and being carded the legal way, finally. It’s dedicated to partying, drinking and for some, having meaningless sex with people we live to regret. 22 doesn’t quite cut it either because school isn’t completely over; we’re working our way towards graduation.
22 is the year when you think life is peachy because your school dean hands you a folder with the logo of your alma mater as you make your way across the stage and anticipate the acceptance of your diploma; but all you’ve really received is a letter stating that your diploma will be delivered to you via mail in 10-12 weeks so really the whole day was just for show.
22 is the “oh crap, everyone’s asking me what I’m going to do with my life and I still don’t know what answer is appropriate” year. The year when many of us move back home with our parents and look for real jobs if we haven’t lined them up already because going back is the most cost effective way to still live it up on our parents’ dollar while we “transition.” But 23…there’s nothing like 23.
That phrase that goes “live love laugh” was written for 23. Cliché? Yeah. Accurate? Without question! During the weekdays, you work extra hours because this money’s not going to make itself. You stick to your set bedtime if your workload doesn’t consume you, pay your bills when you’re supposed to because now you really understand the significance of a credit score and attend casual happy hours. Wine becomes your new drink of choice because all the grown ups are drinking it and after your second drink, you’re ready to take it in. But Friday is a completely different beast.
Your energy is saved for the weekends when you know you look so “ooh la la,” Beyonce herself couldn’t tell you you didn’t just “do that!” Every occasion is documented with a pic especially filtered for Instagram and your college friends still love you enough to come down to party with you for the weekend. 23 is filled with brunches, happy hours, day parties, weekend getaways and a few professional development conferences to keep you on your toes—trips to Jamaica and Punta Cana for non-grad schoolers because Miami is so been there, done that, sleepovers and musical festivals. Its for coming home late, being greeted by the sun and plopping face down on the couch until you can feel your feet and face again. For my fellow politicos, its for making your affiliations known, and wearing those “vote 2016” campaign buttons on your dress or lapel. It’s not like a college independence. It’s like a grown up independence.
And for lessons learned…
I learned the importance of the mantra “you are where you’re supposed to be.” I learned to believe people for who they tell me they are and that though relying on trust can many times be fragile, there are some who never make me question their sincerity. I learned that the element of “agree to disagree” easily works its way into more conversations because we’re passionate and informed about particular issues; and I find that to be absolutely refreshing. I learned when to ask those burning questions and when some things were better left unsaid. I grew in love, in faith and in strength, accepting my weaknesses and praying my way through just about everything. I cherished every family event from deaths to weddings because it was important that I be a part of the moments we could never get back. I laughed a lot and cried a bunch, appreciating the many things that make us human. And I’m continuing to learn to make more time for me—to work on getting myself together.
For me, 23 was and still is the growing and planning year. The year when I look over my short life and reevaluate the things I want to do, want to change and want to live for. It’s the year when we feel like we have now adapted to the “transition” and do things a bit differently. We examine the usefulness of our undergrad majors, think about how we can better ourselves to compete with our graduated counterparts and in case of a “rainy day,” look for side hustles to “stack bread.” We come into our own even more now because the real world has somehow made us feel welcome. I love 23. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.