Here are a few things that 22 is too old for:
-A “Send Me Pics” conversation
-A “What You Doing” conversation
-A “Tell Me About Yourself” conversation.
22 is too old for small talk, 22 is too old to make apologies where apologies are used by recipients of said apologies as ego stroking mechanisms…22 is just too old for that.
But here is a list of things that 22 isn’t too old for, things that 22 still has to get her head around.
22 wants to know how to react the next time a man yells something sexual at her from across the street. 22 wants to know whether to respond and be called “loose” or to ignore the man and have him tell her, “You’re ugly anyway.”
22 wants to know how it’s okay for a boy to very subtly grab her butt as they cross paths in the school corridor but somehow people have a problem with 22 wearing a t shirt that reads “Ndebele Maker” with an arrow pointing directly towards her lower abdomen.
22 is confused over how the internet preaches positive body image yet the same internet has some guy on Twitter going on about he can’t “unsee” the love handles on a “fat girl”. So 22 learns to walk around with her arms folded, in case there is anything else to “unsee”.
22 wants to know how “Sdudla” was an endearing nickname when she was four years old but now “Sdudla” is the worst thing you can call anyone. 22 wants to know when the rules changed, 22 didn’t get that memo, 22 is still waiting for that memo.
22 is trying to get her head around how when she pulled out a photo of her girlfriends, her guy friends started ranking her girlfriends from prettiest to skinniest to most likely to give it up on the first date. 22 doesn’t know when it turned into a competition.
22 has a question…22 wants to know how wide she can smile before before she is called a tease and how pursed her lips can be before it’s called resting bitch face because, come on, it’s always one or the other. 22 wonders just how friendly she should be to the boy before he mistakes it for something else and starts calling her the “bitch that friend-zoned him”.
22 is wondering at what point her skirt becomes too short or too long, at what point her neckline is too high or too low, at what point her makeup is too plain or too shouty. These are all answers that 22 needs.
Once 22 took a self defence class, 22 wanted to ward off potential rapists, and kidnappers and robbers and 22 learnt how to use to use pepperspray, and 22 learnt how to use a taser and all the while 22’s male counterparts were lurking somewhere in the dark and noone bothered to ask where they had been all night.
See, the thing with 22 is this…22 has questions, 22 is confused, 22 thinks there are too many rules and 22 just can’t keep up. 22 is doing her best but somehow her best isn’t quite it. 22 has tried extreme and 22 has been called too much. 22 has tried not at all and 22 has been called lazy and flaky. 22 even tried moderation once and 22 was called boring and now 22 has no idea what she is doing because 22 doesn’t know what anyone wants from her anymore.
So when 22 gets home tonight, because 22 can’t seem to get anything else right, she might just turn on her phone and respond to that “Tell me about yourself” text. In the first line of that response, she might say how hard it is to be 22 and expected to fit into a box that has no fixed dimensions.