A couple weeks ago, I officially turned 20, and to be honest, I didn’t think it was going to be a big birthday. What I mean by big, is that I didn’t think it would have a significant effect on me. The reason, of course, is because people always say that turning 16 and 18 and 21 is a big deal; but I’ve never heard much chatter about 20. Personally, I’ve never felt as though my actual age matched the age I feel myself to be.
The way I conceptualize age for myself, is that I never like to gage where I am in life and what I have accomplished by age, because it really is just a number by which we track with time. I like to track time with memories, vacations, education, spiritual growth and what I am focusing on in my life at that time. So turning 20, to me, wasn’t a big deal — aside from the fact I will never technically be a teenager again — but turning 20 did actually, affect me in an amazing way.
The first thing I learned: where I thought I was going to be at 20 is not where I am, and that is perfectly fine — I know growing up, we all have a dream of what and where we will be when we are older — and for some, we are spot on, and for others, our life path changes immensely.
Turning 20 made me realize I don’t have to have everything figured out, because I still have so much time and years of my life left to do that; where I am right now and where you are right now, is exactly where you are supposed to be. It doesn’t matter if “other people your age” are doing something, you aren’t them, and they aren’t you, and that is exactly how it should be. This also means that it is okay to be scared and worried about the future, but that doesn’t mean you should regret where you are right now.
The second thing I learned: I started to realize what is really important and what doesn’t matter; we are getting older, and this allows us to fill our time with what we want. The people we want, the activities we want, the passions we want. We have the power to choose what we want to be important in our lives. We are creating a future for ourselves, and we now have the power to fill it with whom and what we want.
The third thing I learned: self-acceptance is a whole lot easier. The biggest thing about growing older for me, is that everyday I love who I am more and more, for the pure fact I realize not everyone is going to like me, and that that is okay. High school is rough, trying to navigate who you are and how to fit in, and we all do it, because we want to be liked and have friends. And there is nothing wrong with that, but for me the idea that I have lived 20 years, and four of those were spent being afraid that I wasn’t liked by everyone, is very eye-opening.
The fourth thing I learned: time with family becomes more important. Until a year ago, like many readers, I lived with my parents for what had been my entire life. Then, moving out and moving into an apartment and not seeing them as often, really started to show me how much I took for granted my time with them.
We all say, “Oh I can’t wait to get out of the house,” but the truth is when you do get out, you realize how much you loved having your mom and dad right there whenever you needed them. Family was always a priority in my life, but growing older makes me realize, just how important family really is.
The fifth thing I learned: I am still young. When I was 14, 20 sounded so old. I thought, by the time I’m 20, I’m going to be married already. However, now that I am 20, I’ve come to realize that 20 is still young, and that this is only the beginning of building a life for myself. There is no need for me to be afraid of getting older, it happens, but with every new age, you discover new things and find that they make your life better.