Trigger Warning: Discussion of depression and suicide
If you’re anything like me, you’re in love with Andrew Garfield’s song “30/90” from the Netflix film tick tick… BOOM! It may even get stuck in your head on a regular basis. Trust me, it’s firmly lodged and playing in a loop in mine at this very minute. I keep thinking about how the song exposes the fear, excitement, and anxiety that Garfield’s character Jonathan Larson faces, not just about turning 30, but in the pivotal year 1990, and how in August of 2022 I will be turning 20. I’m sure as heck not going to be writing a song about the occasion, but if I did, I’d probably call it “20/22”.
This year’s already been one for the books. I say this on March 3rd, just over 2 months in. And I don’t think I speak just for myself when I say my life’s never been the same since March of 2020, although I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing it, and thinking about it. We’re desensitized to these events at this point, be it the COVID-19 pandemic, murder hornets, the 2021 Capitol Riot, horrific instances of gun and police violence, forest fires, droughts, shortages, the growing mental health crisis, rising global temperatures, and now the senseless war and the killing in Ukraine. It’s not that the vast majority of us are apathetic, but there’s only so much of the news one can take these days before shutting it off and blocking it out.
I remember when life was simple, in the times before the shutdown, before online school, and hiding our faces behind protective masks, and what for me marked the beginning of my adult life. I certainly thought life was anything but simple. Life was full of college applications, trying desperately to obtain scholarships to fund my education, writing 5 paragraph essays, balancing AP classes and extracurriculars, battling my chronic illness and symptoms of an undiagnosed mental health condition, and stressing about the seemingly impossible task of finding a prom date. At least that last one was taken off of my plate for me.
While I certainly struggled with the initial shutdown, with senior events being canceled and graduation being filmed, and with the consequences of my split-second decision to give myself bangs with the pair of red safety scissors I’ve been using since elementary school, a part of me was relieved. I liked the anonymity that the masks gave me, and the introverted side of me flourished in lockdown. I’ve never felt better about my performance in school than I did that Spring in the few online classes that finished out the year. I also gained weight, going beyond the “freshman 15”, lost contact with friends and the outside world, started college and in quick succession depression meds, and spent my 18th birthday going straight from my first day of classes to a night working a shift at a cash register. 2020 ushered in my adulthood in a very traumatic way, and the same goes for many of my peers. I’ve seen plenty of arguments and memes about which age group or generation suffered or lost the most in 2020, and I am in no way arguing that my fellow Gen-Zers are the “winners” of this supposed title. There is no competition, we’ve all experienced immeasurable loss, and no one group gets to invalidate the loss of another. I will say that I am one of the lucky ones, I didn’t lose a family member to Covid, nor did I get sick myself. I had timely access to the vaccines, got a job out of high school, enjoyed the perks of being an essential worker, and have had as normal a college experience as anyone else has had in the last couple of years.
20 in 2022. I never thought the anxieties and pressures of adulthood would be so enhanced by events out of my control. I never thought “What’s your major?”, “When are you finally moving out?”, and “What do you want to do after college?” would send me into such a panic. I never thought my depression would get so bad that I literally physically could not get out of bed some days, and that basic tasks would take such a monumental effort. But I also thought I wouldn’t get to this point. I didn’t think that I would make friends with social distancing rules in place. I had no clue I was going to meet my boyfriend walking out of Western Civilizations class the week after I almost gave in to the temptation to end my wonderful, beautiful life. And I certainly didn’t expect to feel ready to take off my mask on campus yesterday and show my face. But I was. I’m ready to move forward. I’m ready to stand with the rest of Gen-Z, my community, and the whole world, to wait and watch the news with bated breath, to pass milestones together, to laugh and to cry, to mourn and to celebrate. I’m ready for healing.
I’m ready for 20/22, and whatever 2022 brings. Are you?