Unfiltered thoughts about coming of age


Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Twenty one years on this earth, and I haven’t got a handle on hold life is supposed to work. 

I still wonder if I am doing it right. I still worry if I am living to the fullest. Every day I wake up, face sliced with sunlight, with questions of uncertainty lingering in the back of my mind, questions my younger self thought I would have the answers to by now. Boy, was she wrong.  

To me, it feels like another day. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel any older. What’s another candle added to a cake but time trickling by like hot wax and my mom telling me to blow out the flame before it ruins the icing? 

Birthdays have always been off-key singing and the ripping of wrapping paper. They have always been a celebration of life, but why do I feel like this is the year that I will mourn? It feels like COVID-19 stole the hourglass and banged it against the table until the last grain of sand funneled through. I have not done all that I wanted to do at twenty because quarantining put a halt on my plans. 

I feel unprepared. 

I am not sure what twenty one is supposed to feel like, but I certainly imagined it to be something I’d ease into. Why does it feel like I am pressing the brake pad, but the car is still going? Why does it feel like I am pulling the toggle, but the parachute is still not deploying? So, instead, I brace myself for impact, squeeze my eyes shut. 

“Make a wish,” My sister encourages me, nudging my shoulder. 

So, I do.

I wish for time to slow down, for all the hands on the clock to stop wherever they land. I wish for answers. Finally, I open my eyes and I extinguish the flames. Five minutes has gone by, the clock hands are unceasing. Cake is cut, served on a paper plate.   

Diving my fork into the soft, white icing and shoving a piece of cake into my mouth, I feel like I am trying to remind myself that life can be sweet, tasty even. 

I look around me, watching my family enjoy their slice of cake. My dad licks the butter-cream icing from his fingertips and laughs. I laugh too. At first, it slips out from my mouth, surprising me. Like, a note spilling from a music box. I remember that sometimes, life makes a mess and all you can do is take it in, let it happen. All you can do is laugh. I lick my own fingers.    

As the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde once said, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes, age comes alone.” Today, I aged but have not gained anything. I know tonight will be the same. Twenty one years on this earth and the same questions I woke up to will keep me tossing and turning at night.

And yet, I am   okay with that. 

I know I am not alone in this journey of  doubt.   I know that when I wake up in the middle of night to fill up a glass of water, there’s a possibility that I  may stumble into my sister, who has not quite found sleep herself, who    still  wrestles with her own questions in the midnight hour.     I know we will smile and ask each other what we are doing up so late. 

I am still trying to understand that not all questions  have answers, that some questions are rhetorical. I am also still trying to understand that age is only a number, not a mindset.