Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and everyone else in between, The Rebecca Project proudly presents: Venting at Vingt, a three day mini-series focused on turning 20 and what that means to me. Be sure to check out yesterday’s post right here.
I wrote this letter on a plane about a month ago, because I’m one of those annoying people who has to journal things to get them off my chest. After cleaning it up a bit, I thought I would share my irrational fears with all of you in hopes to make me feel a little more normal.
Hey girl, what’s up? I hope this letter finds you happy, healthy, and full of hummus.
As I write this it is about one month from my birthday. If you’ve known me for a while (which you have because we are the same person) you would know that I am BIG into self-reflection. I blame my hippy Mom who makes me read mindfulness magazines and who, at age 5, taught me that I must “work everyday to bring joy to my higher self”. Anywho, because of this I feel like it is important to take some time to reflect, like the pretentious wannabe hipster that I am, before launching myself into the crazy whirlwind of becoming a “twentysomething”.
I have always loved my birthday, partly because I’m a narcissist at heart and revel in the fact that I get a whole day dedicated to my greatness that ends in cake, but mostly because I love the feeling of a fresh start. My birthday marks a new untouched set of 365 days that I have to make something of myself or die trying.
This birthday however feels different.
As the days inch closer I feel my anxiety bubbling up inside. 20. Twenty. The big 2-0. No matter how you say it the feeling of pure panic remains. 20 just seems so old.
Yes I know, I can hear the 30, 40, and 80 year-old versions of myself laughing now, but the fact remains: The idea of turning 20 terrifies me.
I’m not quite sure why is little number makes me feel so uncomfortable, but I think its because at 20 I had hoped to accomplish so much more. You see, I feel quite accomplished for a 19 year-old. I have a job that I love, I’m a straight A student, I can run club meetings, I can manage a staff of people, I can teach hormonal pre-teens about history (with varying levels of success), and I have only thrown up from drinking once. Let’s face it I’m pretty darn successful for someone who’s just a teenager.
But 20? No at 20 I was suppose to be so much more than a girl who eats her feelings in chips and guacamole and calls her parents crying every time something doesn’t go exactly as planned.
At 20 I am suppose to be living in a studio apartment somewhere super cool like New York or Paris with a super hot boyfriend and a cat. I’m supposed to be 25lbs lighter with shinier hair and whiter teeth. I’m suppose to know how to do taxes and yoga. I’m should be meditating every morning and going out every night. Because as they say, you are only in your twenties once.
Now obviously these expectations are not exactly realistic, and I am sure I’m not the only person who has felt this way (and I’m 100% sure I will feel this way again). It is really easy to feel like you are falling behind in life when your actual timeline doesn’t match up with the one you made up in your head. It’s even harder when you check your phone to see your friends getting jobs, traveling the world, falling in love, winning awards, and just overall becoming badass boss people.
If I’ve learned one thing from starting University it’s that life almost never turns out the way you thought it would. This is not ground breaking knowledge; it’s something that people have been telling me for years, I’ve just spent a lot of time convincing myself that I had to be the exception. I realize now that is a pretty entitled (not to mention unhealthy) way of looking at things.
I might not have the life that 10-year-old, or even 15-year-old Rebecca may have envisioned, but at the end of the day I’m mostly happy. I’m not always jumping for joy every waking second but I’m learning to be okay with that because life, at any stage, is full of issues. Learning how to solve them is all part of the fun.
So I am going to leave you with a little piece of advice. Continue to set goals, to dream big, to shoot for the moon, but remember to stay flexible because plans will change and so will you. That doesn’t mean your failing; it just means your growing up.
Wishing you all the best as you try to figure this “adulting” thing out.
Your truly remarkable friend,
19 year-old Rebecca