I remember my 10th birthday not feeling as huge of a deal as I thought it would be to hit the big One-O. Looking back, I guess I can understand why: what’s expected of a 9-year-old doesn’t sound too different from what would be expected from a 10-year-old. You would put your toys away, make the bed every so often, and just try to survive the adventures of childhood. Don’t eat the weird stuff you find in the carpet. Don’t fall from the top of your bunk bed. Don’t cross the street when you’re alone and a car is speeding towards you. I am guilty of all of those. But it was okay because being only 9 or 10 years old, I was allowed to make stupid mistakes and still be seen as a good, responsible(ish) little kid.
Eight years and 11 ½ months later, I’m still shocked to realize that I’m way closer to reaching the big Two-O than I am to being that tiny 10-year-old. I mean, sure it’s crazy to imagine that some of the “big kids” I grew up with have careers, are moving into their own homes, getting married - hell, some of them have kids already. And yet, coming to terms with the fact that I’ll be 20 in just a bit over a year? Impossible for me to process.
Why is that so? I wouldn’t even say it’s because I’m still so immature, or because I’m still figuring out my life - because as far as I’ve heard, it seems like everyone feels that way throughout their entire lifetime. I look at my parents acting like huge dorks with a million questions for the world, and for someone who couldn’t imagine having a future when she was younger, I definitely picture myself out-dorking them when the time comes. I could be in my 30s still sleeping with my giant pink rabbit, Mr. Fluffers, and I’m perfectly fine with that image, if not expecting it.
If anything, what’s keeping me from really taking it in that I’m reaching the end of my “-teen” years is the idea of one day saying “I’m twenty”.
I know I’m just over thinking these words, but it feels like a big deal to me. A lot of my friends would probably ignore the idea of reaching the second-decade mark while cheering, ‘but it’s one more year to reaching 21! Hahaha, that’s all that matters!’ And while I’m the youngest of three and my two older brothers passing the age of 20 hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference in their own lives - to me, the thought of saying “I’m twenty” in a year…. It scares me a little.
When you tell someone that you’re 9 or 10, like I said, the expectations are the same. You’re still a little kid. But once you reach the age of 20, then suddenly your “-teen” years are gone. As much as you liked calling yourself a “young adult” once you hit 16 or 17 or what have you, when you’re 20, there is nothing you can say to suggest that you weren’t anything but that - a young adult. There’s no more “-teen” suffix. You’re no longer a “teen”ager. And suddenly ideas about the future and growing up are no longer ideas, they’re reality. When you’re a young adult, no one asks what you want to be when you grow up. They ask, “What do you do?” “What are your plans?” And even though I’ve already accepted that no one actually grows up or has any idea what they’re doing - it’s crazy to imagine that just one little word, “twenty”, would mean all of that would change.
While I was out on the street the other day, this one man that I talked to put all this emphasis on my being ‘only eighteen’ and ‘so young’ to already be doing some of the work that I do, that now I can’t help but wonder if I would still get that reaction in a year. Or would it be ‘yeah, I figured. This seems like the type of stuff someone your age would do’.
Between being 19 and 20, it would only be a year’s - technically just a day’s - difference. And I don't wanna feel like I've turned into an adult so quickly.
Like I mentioned, I’m probably just overthinking it. I’ve even seen an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted described hanging out with his girlfriend’s 20-year old friends as spending time with children. And according to my oldest brother? It's just about right.
I know that in 1, 5 or 7 years, regardless of what I’m doing, my parents and brothers will still always see me just like that, like a little kid. I don't know why something like that would comfort me - maybe because they're having more fun than him. I guess that’s pretty cool. For now, at least.
I know I won’t be able to say how I’ll really feel about reaching the big Two-O until my Two-O-ieth birthday, but I must say that all these conversations I’ve had about it coming leave plenty of room for panicking about it.
But for now I’ll say that in a year, I’ll let you know what happens!