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Being Young Isn't Everything: Reasons To Be Glad You're Over Age 22

01/23/2013 12:27 pm ET | Updated Mar 16, 2015

By Amy Shearn

Smooth skin and the ability to live without sleep aside, being 22 was not all it was cracked up to be. Here are 19 reasons why.

1. Fifteen minutes is no longer really 30 minutes or 5 minutes. You've done enough things (iron a blouse, change a tire, walk the dog) to understand how long something takes -- and to give yourself enough time so that you're not late for the next thing on your schedule.

2. True, you'll never again have the insta-camaraderie you had with the gang of other ex-interns at your first job. But you likely will never feel as much like a fraud about to be exposed as wildly incompetent all day every day. (And when you do have those insecure moments, at least now you realize that every grown person feels this way about 20 percent of the time.)

3. You've had multiple opportunities to weed out certain friends/contacts (even if it's just because you've gone through multiple mobile phones and email accounts).

4. Your parents are no longer the only "adult" role models you have.

5. Yes, it was awful to be looking for a first job after Black Monday in the 1980s, and after the dot-com bust. But truly, neither of these is as awful as looking for a first job in the Great Recession, when the unemployment rate for workers in their early 20s is 16.4 percent.

6. Staying in on a Friday night (AND Saturday night) no longer means you have a sad social life and zero friends. It means you've successfully dodged everything you wanted to dodge, and that you can do whatever you like, without worrying about how it will look on Instagram.

7. There's a light at the end of the student-loan tunnel.

8. The idea of living with six strangers in an unheated, run-down house now seems more like a surreal "How could I ever have done that?" fever-dream -- or possibly a reality-tv show you once saw -- and less like a year of your own life.

9. You've finally figured out which type of birth control works best for you.

10. You're too smart to adopt a kitten on a whim. You know how long those little bundles of fluff live.

11. You know how to work. As bookseller-turned-novelist Emma Straub wrote in a great piece on late bloomers for Rookie, "When I was 22, I thought that I deserved success just because I wanted it, and not because I'd actually earned it." When she hadn't achieved her life goal of publishing a novel by 25, she realized something wonderful: "… nothing happened to my drive to write -- there was no age limit on my imagination or creativity."

12. You can do the Sunday crossword. You've learned all those tricky clues by now.

13. You've stopped worrying about labels: "I'm a feminist... wait, no, I'm a freegan... wait, no, I'm a devoted anti-fracking canvasser." Eventually, you are who you are. As Mae West said, "It isn't what I do, but how I do it."

14. You can spend the holidays anywhere you like. Including at home with Mom and Dad, instead of in Brazil with the some dopey, moody fake-rebel guy you'll never see again.

15. Small, subtle parts of your body become more important. Like your clavicle, which never seems to lose its grace. While large obvious parts become less so. There's only so much attention you can give your derriere -- 22 years, for example -- before even you get bored.

16. Cursing to be considered strong or tough is no longer cute. You can quit it, the way you always wanted to.

17. Nobody will ever make you wear a big sweatshirt with a college or sorority logo on it, unless you want to.

18. Makeup no longer looks like crayon on your face.

19. No more path-not-taken moments, when you become convinced that botching a job interview or not talking to that man who was picturesquely enjoying his coffee and copy of Jane Eyre on the park bench as you walked by a completely normal 16 times has irrevocably ruined your life forever and ever and ever. As Hannah Seligson, author of Mission Adulthood: How the 20-Somethings of Today Are Transforming Work, Love, and Life, tells us, "Everything at 22 feels like a really, really big deal. And why shouldn't it? You have no perspective or life experience to make you think otherwise. So not getting the job at The New York Times or Paramount or when the cute guy you went on one seemingly great date [with] doesn't call seems to add up to: I will die alone and unemployed. Getting older, miraculously, makes you realize that career setbacks, while devastating, are not carved in stone." Setbacks, mistakes, awkward encounters: Now you know they only ruin a tiny squidgeon of your life at a time.

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