It’s your birthday and for the millionth time, you are posed with the most annoying question, “So, do you feel older?!” This question is typically coming from someone twice your age, so as much as you want to let loose and say, “No, you imbecile. From 11:59 p.m. yesterday to midnight today oddly I feel like the same exact freaking person!” However, instead you politely smile your most sincere smile because their mind must be declining if they had the audacity to ask this question and say, “You know what, I think I might feel a little older!” Lies. All lies.
That is until this said birthday happens to be your 20th birthday. You turn 20 and all of a sudden, you feel like you have completely lost your identity. You are once again posed with the age old question, “So, do you feel older?!” This time you sincerely respond with, “Yes, yes I actually do.” You shutter with fear as you say this because you, for the first time in your life, do feel older and the thought terrifies you.
You are no longer the innocent, punk or rebel teenager. You are a “20-something” and that is all you are. You have just spent the last 20 years of your life, passing milestones ranging from sitting up on your own, to finally hitting double digits, to learning how to drive and to ultimately preparing to be this so called 20-something. Two decades. An era is over.
From ages 13 to 19 you are categorized as a teenager. 19 year old you is older, wiser, more experienced, yet you are still placed in the same category as 13 year old you because of a silly suffix placed at the end of a number.
Being 13 needs no explanation, because in all honesty, there really is none. Not you, not your parents, not even scientists are able to truly determine what is going through your head at 13. I’m pretty sure a tornado tore through the tiny file cabinets in my brain for the duration of my 12 month stint as a 13 year old, ultimately ending in a black out. To this day, I am still not sure if I was actually in my own body as a 13 year old. It is all a blur.
As a 19 year old, you are an alpha. Everything you do is impeccable. Every action you make is followed by the reaction, “And I can’t believe you are only 19!” Nineteen, teen, as in teenager, as in that category that those lost 13 year olds are in as well. Your successes are being compared to people in your age category there for you are a sheer genius when it comes to almost everything at 19 because everyone is below you (as if our 19 year old self’s needed more to be cocky about, ugh).
Then you turn 20, and what happens? In a matter of milliseconds, you go from being at the top of the totem pole to the very bottom, and it is exasperating to say the least. Now, everything you do is comparative to people in your new age category, the 20-somethings. The category that consists of people who have kids and multi-million dollar businesses and all of that adult grown up stuff that none of us like to think about. Things you were once getting praised for as a 19 year old, you are now expected to do. No praise. No, “And I can’t believe your only 20!” reactions. It’s more like, “And your 20? Better get a move on.”
The stresses of being a 20-something have become more serious than ever and I have a serious problem with it! I often catch myself thinking, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” This is a question you rarely hear after you turn 20. This question was once the basis of all first day of school questionnaires and cheeky grandma conversations. “An astronaut, a pop star, a dolphin trainer (yes this was actually mine, my first email address can testify)!” we would scream. No matter who asked, they would respond with sparkling eyes, envious of our pureness and say, “Shoot for the stars darling, you can do all that and more.”
Why is it that when I ask myself this now, I am ashamed and frantic? Shouldn’t I know what I want to be? Isn’t that what society told me? Yes. But this must change. Millennial’s are go-getters, they dream big. So why is it we are constantly told to “shoot for a reachable goal,” or to “think realistically?” It is now, more than ever, more than when we were young and naïve, that we need to be told to shoot for the stars, that we can do anything that we desire, that NOTHING is too far fetched.
It’s inevitable, you’re going to be a 20-something, and you are going to have a billion Buzz Feed article written about you and you are going to have an identity crisis. But you must keep dreaming. No one knows your fullest capability, not even you, so never stop shooting for the stars.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo