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Brink of 22

Updated: Apr 28

Written by Gina Kim

Most people do not experience many double-digit birthdays in their lives. 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88 if you’re lucky, 99 if you’re unlucky. Tomorrow, I am turning 22.

I’ve heard that women start their slow decline at 25. Our collagen production starts to slow, and our eyes lose that oh-so-lovely brightness. Admittedly, I am a fearful person, but aging is what I am most afraid of. Maybe this fear comes from catching my grandma sneaking out of the house with a mini skirt on and her smoky eye crusted in the wrinkles of her eyelids. Maybe it comes from seeing how pretty my mom was when she first came to America at the age of 23. Maybe I’m just obsessive and vain. I don’t know. All I know is that I do not want to grow old.

I trick myself, tell myself that the growing brightness of my soul will replace the one of youth, that the knowing voice of maturity that comes with experience will be more than enough to replace the pink in my cheeks and perky breasts. But in truth, these are all excuses. Nothing will ever be enough. But I am still young and will be for a while, so no matter. After all, it’s a sort of immaturity to say you are old when you are not.

My mom and I talk of people often. When you live vastly different lives, there are only so many updates you can give until you realize that some bridges cannot be crossed. When I come to this realization, I ask my mom about people.

She tells me that one thing that remains a constant in life is the difficulty of navigating human relationships. She says that when one gets to her age, you learn to see people for who they are with just one glance. Physiognomy, but make it mom-style, I guess. She wanted for me to learn how to eat a course meal and study at a good school because she thought that then and only then, would I have something to fall back on when I can no longer depend on my youth to make me beautiful. So, in the end, it’s all vanity. Then what in the world isn’t?

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