The Terrifying 20

20 years old.  Two decades, 240 months, and 7,300 days of existence. No longer a teenager, now an adult. In less than 10 months, I will be turning the big Two-O. The thought of being 20 seems crazy to me. Of course, the legal age of adulthood in America is 18. But turning 20 holds a deeper meaning in terms of adulthood than turning 18 ever has, at least in my experience.   

Turning 18 means you can buy a lottery ticket, you can vote, you can join the military, you can legally accept adult responsibility. But 18 is defined as a teen, being a teenager. Turning 20, on the other hand, is true acceptance of adult responsibility. 20, while still young, is an adult age. The age of 20 holds more seriousness than one of 18 or even 19. No longer a teenager, rather a young adult.                                                                              

This transition to adulthood is scary. Even if nothing truly changes besides age, 20 is a reminder that time is catching up. It’s an alarm clock, reminding its owner that it’s time to take action in life.                                                                                  

The true question of turning 20 is how to cope with it. How does one cope with the significance of turning 20 and leaving their teenage years behind? How does one prepare for this next decade of life? In my experience, acceptance and planning. Instead of worrying about what I have not done in terms of my imminent 20s, I try to focus on the accomplishments I’ve already made. I’ve graduated high school, I have friends and family I care for. I’m currently in college, an opportunity very few have. There is plenty to be proud of, plenty of accomplishments to prove my fears wrong. The fear that I haven’t done enough yet, that I’m behind.

Sometimes though, acceptance can’t drown out the fears and worries I have about turning 20. When I cannot tell myself I’m perfectly good at where I am, I plan on anything I can to reach future goals. Making goals, even small ones, is a helpful coping mechanism. At least in my experience.    Overall, turning 20 is a big milestone in one's life. It’s two decades completed in a hopefully longer life. It is scary, inescapable, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to deal with. Using healthy coping mechanisms and realizing that while yes, you’re an adult, 20 is still quite young.

There is a long life ahead of you, and turning 20 is just another year in the grand scheme of things. Your fears are valid, but they will pass. Or at the very least, lessen.