photo of birthday birth about to blow birthday candles

The Unedited Truth About Turning 19

There’s something poignant about being 19. The reason is twofold: it’s your last year to be a teenager, and it’s your second year of being an adult. You’re still in school, working, or doing both. You’re learning, growing, creating, and experimenting, all while exploring your sexuality, spirituality, and sensitivity.

There’s something magical about adolescence that can only fit into a teenage body—a raging, dramatic spirit too intricately-crafted for a child to possess, yet too fleeting for an adult to hold on to. What comes next can be something just as poignant, maybe even better, but it can’t be the same. A little part of you will always come back to the memories of adolescence when you need a spark to light up your calmer adulthood.

As a teenager, you feel things more deeply than you will ever again in your life. The downside of this is that for most of your adolescence, you lack the words to be able to describe your experiences and reasonings. Your life in your early adolescent years is a canvas yearning for late nights and wild colors. From the ages of roughly 13 to 16, the mind is a royal palace full of vivid daydreams and secret feelings. The body aches and cries for its desires, screaming to be understood, wanted, and held. Sometimes the only way to handle this is to numb it all out, letting the world see nothing of you but your apathy, boredom, and “coolness.”

But around the time you get to be 17, and then 18, you slowly learn how to take control of your adolescent body, steering yourself in the directions you want to go in. You don’t have to numb it all out. You learn to label your emotions and stand up for yourself rationally and in a calmer manner than before.

You just lit a firework on the ocean shore, and now you are running with your friends through the sand to get away before it explodes. You’re in control enough to run away but young enough to still light the fire. There is an enchanted moment where you sit back in the sand, lungs still burning from running, and get to watch fireworks explode on the sky of the beach.

Those sirens of young adulthood will slowly and eventually lure you in. You turn 19, just your second year of being an adult, but you get to appreciate the beauty of growing up. More freedom, more independence, more concrete footing. Your decision-making skills are sharper, your hormones are tamer, and your morals are stronger. You discover new valleys and hike through vivacious cities, meeting new strangers and finding new lovers.

The year of being 19 will blow out like the flame of a candle, but the scent and smoke will linger long into your days as a 20-something. You won’t stop growing, creating, or experimenting. You take your memories and lessons with you and jump into the ocean. The water is cold at first, but before you know it, you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready for the possibilities that lie ahead.