23 looking for something real

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I woke up on the morning of my twenty-third birthday to a dead-end job, a failing relationship, an empty wallet and a complete lack of direction. We are thrust into the real world with a large amount of student debt, jobs that barely 23 looking for something real enough to make rent, relationships that are rapidly changing and a profound feeling of being lost on how to handle it all.

Most of us make it to our twenty-fourth year. Most of us make it out of the woods. Twenty-three is a lonely and uncomfortable age. College is probably over. Your professional life is hopefully just beginning. And your social life is doing an awkward, uncomfortable shuffle in response to all the changes. Give it time. Give your relationships the chance to evolve. Give yourself the chance to adjust to no longer living with a group of your closest friends yes, you will adjust.

There are a thousand different routes you can take to get to where you want to go. No, seriously. Every single person you meet, interact with or think about in the course of a day has almost definitely had a period of their lives where they had NO clue what they were doing. So this is yours. You have time to fail at love.

At your career. At your creative aspirations. At your personal goals. You are still young enough to fall and pick yourself back up, so many more times. Your self-perception is going to adjust to encompass the new, adult you: the one that you are still growing into.

You deserve it, as a basic product of your existence. Disappointment — in moderation — means that you believe in bigger things for yourself. And holding that belief in life will take you further than you could possibly imagine. Say no to people who bring out the worst in you. Say no confidently, strategically and as regularly as you need to. It is your right and in some cases, your greatest asset.

You have to ask — directly and sometimes incessantly — for those things. The sooner you get comfortable asking for things, the sooner you start getting big. Embarrassment is a choice.

23 looking for something real

Confidence is a major predictor of success. Treating your body properly is going to have more of a positive impact on your life in the coming years than you could possibly imagine right now. Start believing in yourself a little more right now, so you have to kick yourself a little less aggressively later. But those moments never last for too long.

23 looking for something real

Your brain is still developing. You are still developing. And the worst thing you can be right now is stagnant. To relax. And to take a brief break from frantically dashing toward the future. You still deserve to live and enjoy your life.

23 looking for something real

Your future will come soon enough. Losing touch with your old college roommates or your hometown friends or the loved ones who settled down earlier or later than you did is a natural consequence of growing older. Everyone grows up and grows into themselves at different paces. And the older you get, the more you will notice that some people almost deliberately choose to stay stuck or hold themselves back. And it is not your job to rescue these people from themselves. They have responsibility over their lives and you have responsibility over yours. You are not selfish or horrible to keep moving forward without them.

You are not your friend or your college classmate or your co-worker who just got a raise. You are you. And if you want to rise above the rest, you have to use the skills that are unique to you, rather than pining after what comes naturally to everyone else. Everyone has made at least one big, huge mistake that they wish they could take back. Nobody actually has a foolproof plan. Even the most confident people are a little bit unsure and a little bit terrified sometimes.

Uncertainty is a key ingredient to the whole shebang. If you had the rest of your life locked and loaded at twenty-three years old, the rest of your life would be a let-down. The ups and downs are just a natural part of what keeps things interesting. And the truth is, now is the best time imaginable to ride out those fluctuations. A period of struggle prepares you for a future of resilience. So struggle away at twenty-three. The future has plenty of time to fall into place.

You may unsubscribe at any time. Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about. At the end of the day, you have two choices in love — one 23 looking for something real to accept someone just as they are and the other is to walk away.

23 looking for something real

By Heidi Priebe Updated February 28, Jessica Bellinger. Get the best of Thought Catalog in your inbox. More From Thought Catalog. Get our newsletter every Friday! You're in! See you Friday. Follow Thought Catalog.

23 looking for something real

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