We all feel the pressure. You hit a certain age where you look around you and suddenly nothing is a joke anymore. It's not funny to waste your time, to blow off school, or to be late for work. Once you've entered adulthood, and it seems as if every falter may be derailing your future livelihood. As if every mistake might just define you.
I've seen this too many times since I've hit age 19. Almost all of my friends and I have already lived away from home for a year. We have each gained our own voice and feel the power to make our own choices. And we're scared. I know every single one of us is. Life is no joking matter anymore. This is the real world. But I've found myself aching to blur the lines a little bit. To disrupt that rigid barrier between youth and adulthood. I think people misconceive the end of childhood as the end of joy. The end of happiness, of freedom and carelessness. We might not be able to be young forever.
But we can feel young.
If we really want to.
All we have to do is change our perspective a little bit.
In high school, we used to blow off fourth hour almost twice a week. Not even a second thought. My friends and I would write fake notes in the best attempts of our mothers' handwriting and slide them to the school secretary, claiming we had a dentist appointment, a doctor's checkup, or sometimes even a funeral. We would then proceed to run out of the school like little kids yelling and smiling, piling in a small Jeep and bumping music so loud the whole town could hear. We would drive to Chipotle to get "real" taco salad, far superior to the disgusting mound of iffy taco meat served by our high school lunch ladies.
Those days still make me smile.
Except sometimes I'm not sure where those people went. Those carefree girls who smiled from ear to ear and screamed music so loud their voices cracked. Sometimes I think I've lost them to the real world.
This is a wake-up call to them and to everyone. Slow down. You are 20 years old. Your life stretches out before you like a shining sun, an endless world of possibilities. But it won't always be that way. One day you will be tied down by a job, a spouse, and children, and a routine the is not compromisable. One day.
But not today.
Today you are younger than you'll ever be again. And today, anything is possible. There will never be a better time to check things off your bucket list than these years. This scary yet exhilarating gap between childhood and adulthood. Don't waste these years. Make time for your friends, even if you have to take a few shifts off of work. You need them, and they need you. More than you probably even know. Go on adventures, even ones that seem stupid at the time. You're still young, you still get to be stupid for a little while longer. And take photos. Take pictures of the sun beating down on the town where you grew up. The place your heart will always come back to no matter how far you run. Don't turn your back on it. Don't push away your lifelong friends. Don't grow up too fast.
You have so much time. 20 is not 45. So breathe. And live. You'll regret it one day if you don't.