22

The day I turned 22, I realised that a lot of things have changed.

I realised that as I sat in the same living room with someone I tried to date not once, but twice, and how platonic it sat between the both us came the certainties of our relationship. I realised that while we weren’t together, we were in this together — how he took care of my heart when it was broken by other people over the course of almost a year that I’ve known him and how he searches for ways for me to leave toxic, co-dependent relationships around me. He takes care of me in ways that I crave but without the romantic attachments and I realise that I found a gem when I thought I lost one prior to meeting him.

I realised as I sat in the same car with a potential love interest that meeting people outside social media and dating apps is possible. The first and definitely not the last. As we sat listening to music and talking about nothing important in particular, I realised that relationships transcend beyond appearances, age and time. Being 13 years older than me had no effect and he certainly did not make me feel small for my age in comparison to his. He smiles when I say something outside of our generation gap and when we clash, he smiles because he accepts his age and I accept mine. The understanding that nothing will ever happen between us stands clear in our relationship and when we both understood it, neither of us broke each other’s hearts.

I realised when I sat in the same room with my family that we break apart but we don’t abandon each other. We seek for our own personal space and companionship and if it means finding ourselves by ourselves, then we do it. I realised that if it meant sacrificing our own sakes for the sake of others then so be it.

I realised how much I’ve grown. Over this quarantine period, I’ve almost sent text messages to my ex-boyfriends and I stop myself — a feat almost impossible in the months before I turned 22. This is the growth that I didn’t think I needed, the path to another form of redemption for myself because of the things I did and hardships I put myself through over the last few years. I had always tried to go back to toxic relationships and this time around, I have the strength and discipline to tell myself that I deserve better than someone who doesn’t want to be with me.

22 is the age of luck, at least to me. It reminds me that as we grow older, we grow up and make better decisions. It reminds me of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned over the last years. I wish I could describe the things I’d learned from the start to the finish but it wouldn’t be enough to express my feelings and the journey I’d undertaken.

I’m excited for 23.

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