It’s been four years, Rookies, since my last entry for you as a teenage diarist. Four freak-froggin’ years! Can you believe? That’s a whole chunk of educational time. It’s like I’m coming back to campus to talk to the seniors who were freshman when I was a senior. You know? Except that in completing this four-year Degree 4 Being Me, I’ve become a bachelor in the School of LIFE. I come with learned insights like a super-old wise man/owl with a monocle, so listen up. All I have to say at the end of these four years of not being a teenager are these three words: Growing. Up. Sucks. It’s a huge sham, in fact, and everything is disappointing. You can’t live off of grilled cheese anymore! Candy loses its flavor! Your favorite pop-punk band no longer speaks deeply to your soul at three in the morning when you get home alone from a party! Milkshakes no longer count as a beverage, scrunchies become unacceptable for your age, turns out you can’t wear crop tops at work, and before you know it, you hate 100 percent of fun because you’re old now. Enjoy it while you can, ye people who were an age that I was, once. It’s all downhill from here.

Ha, just kidding, dudes. Obviously! That would never happen. How could I live? The good news is, I DO! I still live. I’m alive! Pretty decently alive. I’d say 95 percent. Make that a strong 98 percent if I’m well-rested and the sun is out.

Here’s my real story: I moved back to Seattle after graduating art school, and I’m writing this from a perfect little dream apartment I barely afford by working for my mom and writing freelance sometimes. I still do all the things that you might have enjoyed reading about when I wrote diaries—except I get to do them more often, muahah! Tacos and parties, tacos and parties, when you’re me it’s nothing but tacos and parties. (That’s actually not true at all—I have depth and nuance, complete with a high capacity for despair and heartbreak, along with a grim acceptance of a nihilistic point of view in order to shield me from the devastation of adult life’s harsh realities…but you know, also, tacos and parties!)

I guess what I’m hoping to show you is that I’m still me, but, I think, a little more skilled, calmer, more grounded—plus some other evolutions that have beautiful, relaxing, maturating consequences that I want to assure you come with age and the unwinding of the anxieties of youth. Being a teen was Kool as Heck—and you can still be that Hecking Kool Dude, even MORE so than you ever thought, even when you grow out of that age designation. You won’t die inside, and you can still eat grilled cheeses and wear scrunchies as much as you want. Just look at li’l ol’ me. At the end of the day, I’m still living off of the same salty cocktail of pinched pennies, late nights, weird flings, and peanuts that I was four years ago, and I’m still eternally stoked just to be here on this rotating glob of gravitationally suspended rock we call Da World. ♦