I turned 22 yesterday, and I feel like things can only go downhill from here.

Alright, that was me opening up with some crude humor. That statement is not entirely true. It’s just what I keep hearing.

“Enjoy senior year, these are the times!” “You think you’re complaining now, just wait until you graduate.” From here on out, I feel like my life will be a constant wave mixed with negative and positive.

But hasn’t that been my life so far? Indeed it has, but in the “adult world,” the negatives are weighed much more heavily from what I’ve picked up.

You’re no longer a child anymore. Scrutiny is ten times worse. While they say no one really knows what their next move is so it’s okay for me not to, there is still that same pressure to have a firm ground on some level.

I’m being told that now, I’m just aging. When I turned 21, I felt like I hit a milestone that I waited all my life to reach. But from 22, to 23, to 24…”the numbers just keep growing and time just keeps ticking,” they say.

I could look forward to my 50th birthday, but only the people who aren’t turning 50 make a big deal out of people they know turning 50. Ageist? Very.

And I don’t want to be that way, at all. I want to feel that every year after 21 will yes, have its ups and downs, but that adult life isn’t so bad. Right?

Every recent college graduate I know is telling me how much I’m going to miss college once I’m out of it. I couldn’t feel any different, though.

  While experience is the best teacher, and while I have only tasted adult independence where others have indulged in it, I am looking forward to all that is coming. All that I have mulled through up to this point, I can’t wait to say, “Yes, it was so worth it!” rather than, “Man, I miss college.” I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want college to be the highlight of my life.

A stepping-stone indeed, that I can say has truly shaped me to be who I am, I am immensely appreciative of my college experience. I have met my (hopefully) lifelong friends and I have found and strengthened my passion. So, why shouldn’t I be excited to jump out into (or be tackled by, rather) life ahead of me?

   “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” Adversity is part of the experience. And, my optimistic self says, the adversity is only that much harder to handle when you look at it negatively.

So I fully intend to look at the “real, adult world” with high hopes. But, we’ll see how I feel November 14, 2017. And hopefully, if I make it to 50, it’ll be just as celebratory as 21.

Kalyn Dunkins is a cinema and black studies double-major, creative writing minor from Birmingham, Alabama.