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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Alabama chapter.

On March 1, 2023, I turned 21 years old. I was sitting at my desk wondering what to write about. I could do something like “21 Things I Learned Before I Turned 21” or something else about the fear of growing up. But as I sat there thinking about how a “grown-up” 21 year old feels, I realized that I feel like I haven’t really experienced my twenties. I know I’ve only technically been in my twenties for a year, but it feels like time has been moving too fast, like I’ve been growing up too fast. And I’m not exactly sure how to stop it, but I’m going to try.

I’ve always felt older than everyone around me. When the kids in my second-grade class liked playing four-square at recess and paid attention during history class, I was playing complex make-believe games and reading under my desk during lessons. In middle school I religiously watched the news and, when I tried to talk about what stories I’d seen with my friends, they didn’t even know what I was talking about. In high school, while I focused on getting good grades, reading complex fiction, and painting in my free time, the kids at my school were getting high in the bathrooms. College is where I really started to realize my differences from my peers. My ideal Friday night rarely – if ever – involves alcohol, loud music, or uncomfortable tiny shirts. I live much more quietly than my peers, preferring a movie night and homemade dinner, reading on my balcony, and focusing on my creative passions than most other “college” activities. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love traditional college stuff: frat parties, bar hopping, buying excessive amounts of “going out tops” that I never wore. It was when I realized I was only pretending to like those things, so I felt accepted that my life shifted.

I know there are a lot of other college-age girls who feel the same as me. We feel disconnected from others, because we don’t have as much to relate to them about. It’s isolating; it makes us feel like we have to change who we are to be accepted. But I don’t think your twenties are supposed to be about changing who you are to fit in with people who aren’t like you. I don’t know what my twenties have in store for me, and I don’t know what they’re “supposed” to look like, but I do know this: it’s time for me to reclaim my life.

I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on my youth just because my definition of “youth” isn’t the same as everyone else’s. I’m turning 21; I don’t want to keep feeling like I’m turning 41. This is the year of taking care of myself, of learning what I think about the world, and of finding my twenties on my own terms. We all only have one life, and I don’t want to waste mine. If you struggle with similar feelings, I encourage you to embrace who you are and what makes you stand out. It’s the only way to be sure you’ll have a life well lived!

Megan Johnson

Alabama '24

Megan is a writer for the Alabama chapter of Her Campus. She is a junior at the University of Alabama and currently double majoring in English and Creative Advertising. In her free time, she enjoys reading, art, shopping, and being with friends. She has a passion for social justice and loves to give advice, watch movies that make her cry, and FaceTime her sister just to see her cats.