The zeitgeist of a generation is often defined by the work of writers, activists, and people who do really inspirational things to prove themselves, like Elle Woods. Other times, though, the voice of a generation is packaged in the form of a catchy Taylor Swift song. Her lyrical genius and the melodic sound of her voice are all it really takes to captivate young hearts, occasional twenty-somethings with borderline personality disorders, and daddies living out perverse sexual fantasies. Life can obviously be very difficult for a beautiful, young, white girl with luscious blond hair, but no one understands that struggle the way Taylor Swift does. She knows exactly how our generation feels about things that real adults won’t ever talk about out loud. Are you going through a bittersweet breakup? There’s a Taylor Swift song for that. Did you just meet the most amazing guy, like, ever? There’s a Taylor Swift song for that too. Did you just reach the boring age of 22? I did, and there’s a Taylor Swift song for that too.
I dreaded this day for an entire year, but somehow I knew it would happen no matter what. Reminiscing ‘the good old days’ didn’t restore my anti-hangover mechanism. Wearing vintage clothing (and by that I mean clothes I wore 2 or 3 years ago) didn’t make me look any younger or more fashionable. Suddenly I started thinking about boring things like looking for affordable health insurance, finding a steady job, buying khakis, not getting a tattoo, and never being able to dye my hair a crazy color. Everything, including my new wake-up time, pointed towards the most dreadful thing no one ever really prepares you for – adulthood.
Am I the only one who thinks age is totally irrelevant after you reach legality? What does legality even mean? In America, legality means that you can buy alcohol at stores and nightclubs so you can blackout and feel ashamed of yourself. I’ve been doing that since I was 14, though, so now what? I still can’t pay for my own shit, and I’m not gonna talk about the legal age required for things in this country. I just really want to know what it means to be a 22-year-old man (aka the modern equivalent of America’s biggest loser) in this day and age. I feel tremendous anxiety over the fact that going-to-college-to-secure-a-job is just a conspiracy that old people invented, and I just don’t know what do to with the rest of my life besides getting high on medical marihuana. I tried super hard to get good grades throughout grade-school and college, kissed lots of ass from people with authority, and sacrificed my precious youth joining student organizations and building a resume. For what? Unpaid internships, society’s judgement on my career path and lifestyle choices, and more anxiety. In my case, I also gained the opportunity to surround myself with a bunch of egomaniac entertainers who need a pool of interns to run their personal lives. I can’t even.
I’ve come to the conclusion that all the sacrifices I made during my youth prepared me to realize that turning 22 means absolutely nothing unless your name is Taylor Swift. It is totally irrelevant to compare yourself to other 22-year-olds for many reasons. Taylor is my age and worth five of my lifetimes, but does that mean she made better life choices? I know a bunch of other 22-year-olds who are still switching majors and getting in trouble with their parents. Does that make them bad young adults? Am I a better person because I graduated? What about for those who think Taylor Swift music is totally irrelevant and bland? Does that make them better than Taylor? Are they better than me for disliking her? Who is to say? But most importantly, who cares?
So maybe I didn’t gain any new government perks, and maybe I didn’t get any wiser or richer over night, but I still believe that you’re only as old as you feel. A two digit number will never accurately reflect your life experiences. I believe the individual still gets to choose when to seek independence and prosperity. Maybe with time people will give less importance to birthdays and age and focus more on enjoying life as it is now. If I took into consideration all the events that happened between my last birthday and today, I’d say I’m about 10 years older. But am I really? I sure look way too young to be a 32-year-old man, but I am definitely way too jaded for a 22-year-old kid. So how old am I? What is going on here? All I know is I know nothing, except that Taylor Swift’s song “22” is absolutely everything. Have you heard it?
The following is an adaptation of Tay’s original poetry to resemble the world I live in…
“It feels like a perfect day to dress up like a hipster
And make fun of my own life, uh uh uh uh
It feels like a perfect day for breakfast bagels and Diet coke
To fall in love with my unpaid internship uh uh uh uh
I’m happy free confused and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical oh yeah
Today’s the day when I forget about the deadlines, it’s time uh uh
I don’t know about you but im feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep giving me weed
You don’t know about me and I bet you don’t want to
Everything will be alright if I just keep pretending like I’m not 22″