Dear 22-year-old Single,
Okay, so you could be newly 23 also. Or maybe turning 22 in a couple of weeks. The age margin I’m speaking to is flexible. But whether you’re a freshly minted 23-year-old or a seasoned palindrome of 22, I want you to know something.
I get it.
It’s awkward. You’re not old. You’re not even near old. But you’re not, like,19. Or 20. Or even 21. And for some ludicrous reason you have yet to understand (maybe because a reason doesn’t exist), 22 sounds considerably older than 21.
But it isn’t. But it is. Kinda.
I want you to know that you’re not alone in these un-interpretable feelings that I continuously attempt to interpret. I feel them, too.
The first thing I want to address, which I know you already know, is that there are bigger problems out there. Yes, we’re not married yet, but there are plenty of people significantly older than us still not married. I realize this, and I’m in no way trying to belittle anyone’s pain nor blow my own out of proportion. All I’m trying to say is that while theirs may be a bigger problem, and mine a smaller one, the adjectives don’t detract from the nouns — they’re both problems.
It’s an uncomfortable place to be. It’s probably the first time in your life that you and your friends have diverged from a parallel path. Before this, every major step was taken as a unit. High school — check. Graduation — check. Seminary — check. Husband...um, well, hopefully check...soon? In line with the essence of marriage, mostly because it requires the integration of another (suitable) person, it’s the first time that you and your friends aren’t going through that next pivotal stage together.
Being 22 and single means that a lot of your friends are married. Not all of them, but a fair few. Maybe a few even have a kid already. And while you Face-Time them as you pore over your college textbooks, you can sometimes hear the sound of a husband or a baby in the background. And despite your better judgement, it bothers you. “Here I am, trying to memorize Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and my friends are making dinner and changing diapers.” And you can’t help but illogically wonder, how can we be the same age and be living such different lives right now?
It’s a time when you can go to a friend’s wedding and still see girls from your grade in a fair mix of effortless sheitels and natural (painstakingly ironed and curled, but not too curled, because you want it to look natural) waves. The concerned eyes of Jewish mothers aren’t yet focused on you, because, like I said, you’re not old. You’re just not really young.
You’re most probably also at that point where dating has lost its previous stomach-churning qualities. Whereas in the past you could go three full days before a date without a morsel of sustenance, you now find yourself scarfing down a still-too-hot schnitzel at 6:54 (six full minutes, plenty of time). Nervous excitement has turned into vexing exasperation: how is it possible to both want to date and not want to date at the same time?
I want to reiterate that I’m fully aware that my situation is, Baruch Hashem, not dire. I have no agenda to make mountains out of molehills, only to relate a sentiment to an audience who knows who they are. I guess my point in writing you this letter is really just to provide a sense of camaraderie; to validate your feelings and all that. Because when you experience feelings that you feel you shouldn’t be feeling (say that five times fast), it’s comforting to know that someone else is feeling them, too.
Physiological needs come first, by the way. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that is. Physiological, then safety, and then love and belongingness. But for some reason, I think that maybe Mr. Maslow got his order a little mixed up.
Then again, what do I know? I’m only (already?) 22.
Another 22-year-old Single
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