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A conversation with a co worker today reminded me of something I’ve recently wanted to write about: how different each year is from the last.

It happens to everyone at a different time, for me, it was 22. I woke up on my 22nd birthday and looked in the mirror, and for the first time in my life I saw myself look physically older. My whole life I’ve been able to pass for far younger than I am, at twenty-one, I could still easily pass for a teenager. But, on the morning of my 22nd birthday, I looked like a woman in her young 20’s; I could no longer pass for a teenager, I could not even pass for nineteen.

It’s pretty much impossible for me to explain my point here. I find that I do this a lot, bring up something I find fascinating and then have no way to explain it in the same way I think about it.

In my twenty-second year I found myself older than I’ve ever been before. Obviously I was chronically older, yes, but also mentally and even emotionally older. I’d aged. My tastes changed, my sense of humor shifted, my priorities realigned.

My 23rd birthday was low key. Just my boyfriend and I spending the day together, it was a randomly warm February day inMichigan, so we went to the zoo. Besides my birthday the year before, I’d never felt older on a birthday before, but now this year was my second year in a row where I could tell a difference between 22 and 23. It’s not a bad thing, and I’m sure it’s mostly mental. This year has consisted of graduating, starting my first real full time job, with benefits and a 401k, and starting the process of paying off my student loans. I’m living an adult lifestyle now. My boyfriend and I even upgraded from a small, lowest level apartment to a top floor apartment with a fireplace and balcony. We’re all grown up now. 23 feels different from 22 which felt different from anytime prior to then, which pretty much always felt the same. From 1 to 21 I was the same. Now I’m ever-changing, aging, growing older, and enjoying it. I didn’t care for 22. I didn’t like the change. I love 23. I’m excited for 24, which I’m sure will be vastly different as well.

I learned in the last year that even though I’m growing older, I’m still right on track. I’m not ahead, or behind, I just am what I am. I’m happy and content and wouldn’t change a thing about where I am in my life. I have love, stability, happiness, what else could I ask for? Everything I have today is the basis for what I will have in the future, and every day, I’m a little more excited about it.