In a month and a half I will wave (or more accurately, begrudgingly wish) my teenage years goodbye. Yes, I am turning the age that most young adults embrace with open arms. Woe is me.
Most people consider turning twenty a stepping stone towards becoming the person they want to be. I will be one year closer to being able to legally drink. I will have beat teenage pregnancy. I will have yet another year of this crazy thing we call life under my belt. The big issue though, is that even with all of the blessings and perks that come with turning the big 2-0, I would rather stay nineteen. Crazy right?
It took me a while to figure out why I was scared for my birthday to roll around this year. In the past, birthdays have always been a fun day for me: the excitement the day before, the presents the day of, and of course, the cake. So why is this birthday bothering me when none of the others have?
On the surface it might seem like I don’t want to turn twenty, because being nineteen is easier. At twenty, people expect an adult, but at nineteen, a person can choose at their own convenience what role they wish to play that day, kid or adult. Moms will still do laundry for you at nineteen, dads will still come upstairs to say goodnight, and brothers and sisters will still treat you as if you are nine instead of on the cusp of being a full-fledged adult. Yes, being nineteen is easier, but I have never been the type of person to complain about something being hard so the thought is still there. Why is turning twenty scaring me so much?
One night, while laying in bed falling asleep, I finally figured out why I was having a quarter-life crisis at nineteen. What the future holds scares me, but not being able to relive the memories from my past scares me more. As young adults we feel invincible, like nothing in life will catch up to us, but what I have discovered this past year is that that is not the case. This simple fact stands true: You only get one chance at life.
With this inevitable birthday creeping up on me, I realized why twenty bothered me so much. I will only experience one childhood. I will only graduate high school once, go to state soccer once, have one kindergarten sweetheart… The list could go on and on. A lot of things in life you only get to do once. Despite what some might speculate, I do not want to relive these memories, because I regret missing out on certain things. I just want to be a kid again, but that can never happen, which is hard for me to wrap my head around. After all, it is easy to want what you cannot have.
I still haven’t come to grips with the fact that I will be turning twenty in a short period of time, but it is starting to sink in. Although I may face more responsibilities by turning a year older, I have to remember that I am only going to be twenty. Just twenty. Only one year older than nineteen. Just because my body is turning into one of an adult’s does not mean my spirit has to, too.
I thought people in their twenties had to act “adult” all the time, but maybe the best cure for this quarter-life crisis is to act like a kid again. With that in mind, I promise to sing loudly and off-tune to James Bay and Taylor Swift in the car with or without passengers. I promise to still wrestle with my brother and sister until one of us is pinned to the ground sweaty with frustration. I promise to eat large amounts of Ben & Jerry’s with my best friends until we claim we won’t eat ice cream for another month (even though we’ll really eat it again the next day). I promise to still get annoyed with my parents for watching their old-people TV shows instead of what I want to watch. I promise to actually live life so when I celebrate another milestone birthday I can reminisce not only about my idyllic childhood, but about all of the amazing memories I have in between.
Goodbye 19. Hello 20. Wish me luck.