Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

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Tomorrow will be one year since I turned 22.  Coincidentally, it will also be one year since I got on a plane to begin my adventure in Madrid.  After a year of mundane unemployment, moving to a new country, holding down a paying job, and doing an internship in something I love; I really feel I have grown as a person.  Sure, my glorious year of singing I’m feelin’ 22 and actually, y’know, feelin’ 22 is coming to end, but this was definitely a chapter of major character development in the Book of Rosy.  So, because I love talking about myself so much, here are some things I’ve learnt during my first year as a proper grownup (grownups and adults are different things, because the former can’t refer to themselves as the latter yet).

5) Goodbye, Gossip Girl:

I’ve already discussed in length how I’m losing the ability to enjoy YA literature, but I’ve never addressed the loss of another important piece of media in my life: overdramatic dramas about teenagers. I realised long ago that I could no longer relate to real teenagers, but I never thought my love for the fictional ones would disappear.  Nowadays, I get annoyed with all the Pretty Little Liars’ stupid life decisions, I think Rory Gilmore is a whiney self-absorbed brat, and god forbid a student pursue an affair with a teacher (you love them so much you want them to go to jail, huh?).  When you find yourself more invested with the parents in Gossip Girl than whatever Serena is doing, you know something’s changed.

4) Work can be fulfilling, even if it isn’t exactly fun:

I never wanted to become a teacher, let alone work with children, but since I started my current job six months ago, I’ve had a complete change of heart.  As mushy as it sounds, whenever I see that a kid has enjoyed a lesson I created or has finaaaaaally learnt how to pronounce a word in the past tense (“walk-ed”), I get a little buzz that I can only presume is job gratification.  Sure, it isn’t what I thought I’d be doing fresh out of university with an English degree, but if I can give these kids the chance to learn a language properly, something the English education system never gave me, it can’t be that much a waste of my time.  Hell, I even spent two weeks of my summer willingly hanging out with some eleven year olds and crowning Taylor Swift the Queen of the World.  Tell that to 22 year old Rosy.

3) Don’t panic if you don’t know what you’re doing next week, yet alone next year:

All my life, I’ve followed a path. I’ve gone from school, to sixth form, to university.  There was never any doubt in what I’d do next, because I’ve always known what was coming.  I always presumed that the obligatory next step was a job related to the field I’d just spent three years studying, but that’s not how it went for me.  So after my year of spending more time with than with my friends, I thought hey, maybe I could go teach English for a year or something. Well, that year is now turning into two. And who knows what comes then? I could open my own business and stay in Spain, I could travel the world teaching English, I could go back home and dreamingly reminisce about my former life in Madrid. I have no idea. But I’m not panicking about it anymore. I have a job with a steady income, good friends, and all the cheap café con leches a girl could wish for. I’m pretty set for the time being.

2) I now know why my mum likes buying household products so much:

I’ve always loved shopping.  But -that- shopping revolved solely around clothes or films or cute stationery.  Then I moved to Madrid and got my first taste of house shopping.  But even then I was in a shared apartment, so my IKEA trips were limited to picking out my own bin and deciding to treat myself to the same glowing alien lamp I had as a teenager.  But next month I’m officially moving into my First Real Proper Grownup Apartment.  A studio apartment.  And last week I went shopping and bought tea towels and toothbrush holders and kitchen sponges… and it was invigorating!  But it’s more than that, it’s like I’ve become *gulp* house proud.  That empty bowl?  Wash it.  Those clothes on the back of the chair?  Fold them.  That laundry?  Cleaaaaan it.  I’d like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to my teenage bedroom, you didn’t deserve it.

1) I’m actually not a complete waste of space as a human:

This one’s a little braggy, but seeing as this blog started out as a way to document that excruciating year of unemployment I talk about so often, I think I’m allowed to gloat just this once.  From my graduation up until my 22nd birthday, my days consisted of Netflix, onesies, and trying to develop a psychic bond with my cat.  Hardly a life of luxury that one can be envious of.  And when I first moved to Spain, I didn’t really think anything of it.  Old retired Brits do it all the time.  All I had to do was pack a suitcase and buy a oneway RyanAir ticket; you’d think something so life changing would require more effort.  But since then I’ve had countless people tell me how amazing it was, how much I’ve accomplished, how they wish they could do it too.  And for someone who spent a little over a year staring at Facebook statutes about new jobs and new cities, it feels good to finally be through the looking glass.  Okay, gloating over now, we can continue on with the crippling self loathing you’ve come to expect from this blog.

Mainly I think it all comes down to being less of a perfectionist and just learning to go with the flow, maaaaan.  You can’t plan out your entire future.  You can’t predict where you’ll be in two, five, ten years.  You can’t keep comparing yourself and where you are to other people.  Because once I stopped focusing on one specific life path, a whole new world that I’d never even considered opened up to me; and now I have money, I don’t live in my teenage bedroom, and I have a super hot Spanish boyfriend. Olé!

So happy 23rd birthday to me.  Taylor was totally right about this past year, so here’s hoping Blink-182 got it wrong about the next one.  Wish me luck.



Author: Rosanna Parrish

Brit exiled in Spain.

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