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The Reality of Your Early Twenties

Writing by Sophie Sliskovic // photograph of Marta Golova

CN: Mention of suicide

My early twenties haven’t been spent partying till all hours of the morning. They haven’t been spent drinking myself stupid or having one-night stands with people I’ve met on Tinder. My early twenties haven’t been spent receiving financial support from my parents or going on road trips down the coast.

Instead, they’ve been spent feeling so lonely that I wonder if anyone would miss me if I died today. They’ve been spent dissociating from reality on a daily basis, being cut open by various doctors, spending large chunks of my pay cheque on medication and appointments. They’ve been spent eating so little that my hair falls out, my arms become covered in fine hair, my ribs start to show as I feel the competitive drive to become more sick and more thin. My early twenties have been spent staring at four walls and sitting in psychiatric wards.

I haven’t done road trips, partied till all hours of the morning, or slept with random people from Tinder. But I have had beautiful experiences with beautiful people, travelled to amazing places, moved interstate and then owned my decision to come home. I’ve laughed with friends over glasses of wine and bowls of ramen, I’ve sat in pubs watching mates play endless games of pool. I’ve danced to music. I’ve learnt so many new skills and I’m still developing new ones.

I’ve found my people and my passions. I’ve become obsessed with Greys Anatomy and I’ve become creative. I’ve developed a healthy relationship with exercise, and I’ve been on dates. Should I care that I didn’t sleep with them? I did at the time, but not anymore.

I thought that when the clock ticked over into my twenties that I would be completing a law degree, and when I chose to drop out of it, I saw myself as a failure. But I’m learning to not care about the reputation of the course that I’ve graduated from with an arts degree, and now I’m studying to become a psychologist, one who works with children and adolescents in recovering from trauma. I’m finally volunteering my time towards causes that are passions of mine.

I thought I would’ve gone overseas by now, but I suppose the global pandemic really altered everyone’s plans. Remembering the news headlines and the events of the pandemic makes me reflect on the fact that we are living in a dystopian world, and we’ll be reflecting on this for years to come.

I’ve loved, I’ve cried; I’ve lost and farewelled people too young, people who I feel privileged to have met. My pets have crossed the rainbow bridge, and I’ve survived and prevented myself from a suicide attempt. I’ve sung, danced, travelled; I’ve studied and I’ve graduated.

And I feel blessed to have learnt so much in my early twenties.


Sophie Sliskovic

Sophie Sliskovic, 22 years old, she/her pro nouns, lives on palawa land in Tasmania, Australia, studies psychology and is obsessed with greys anatomy and loves reading

Marta Golova

Marta Golova is a first generation Ukrainian-Canadian photographer currently based in Toronto. You can follow Marta on Instagram @martagolova

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