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Solving the Mystery Behind Turning 20

At 15, somebody tells you they love you, and you’re gonna believe them. Next thing you know you’re 16 going on 17, baby it’s time to think! When you get the chance you’re young and sweet (with a mean streak, nearly brought me to my knees!) and coronated as the dancing queen. At 18, you still live with your parents —  they’re not like yours, yours are more understanding, doing the stupid-ish that young kids do. Then you hate the headlights and the weather, you’re 19 (but your mind is older) and on fire! 

There is a literal buzz around being 21 — you’re an officially recognized adult in American society and can legally pop open a bottle of champagne! And at 22, Taylor Swift owns your birthday as you tromp around with your friends being happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time (it’s miserable and magical).

But aside from leaving your teenage years behind, you never hear anything about being 20. Sure, you still wear the crown of being the dancing queen (we all know that never fades with time), but there’s an odd air of silence around the cornerstone age of adulthood. The only thing you get is an obscure four-second scene in Mamma Mia! when Sophie’s asked her age and she screams, mid-party, “I’m twenty!”

And unfortunately, it’s a completely un-relatable moment. Otherwise, by now, I’d be engaged, living on a Greek island, sorting out which of three men is my father, and letting Meryl Streep brush my hair. Although, to be totally honest with you, I’d still be breaking out in ABBA songs the same amount (some would maybe argue even less…)

The real reason no one talks about turning 20 is because it’s a weird age. You’re not a teenager anymore, but you also can’t go sit at the bar, channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw, and order a Cosmopolitan. Are you even considered a twenty-something if nothing comes after the twenty? What benefits does turning 20 include? There’s no build-up to your 20th birthday, everyone’s just waiting for 21. 

Yesterday, I turned 20. Today, every person I’ve ever even been acquainted with has excitedly turned to me and asked: “So how does it feel to be 20?!” The truth is…  it feels exactly the same as it felt to be 19. And probably the same as it will feel to be 21. And 22. And 18. Have you ever felt any different after watching the clock switch to midnight on your birthday? I’m still sitting here in my mismatched socks, blasting “Ribs” in my headphones like I was yesterday… and like I will be tomorrow. And the day after that. 

We put so much pressure and so many expectations on birthdays, but besides a couple of pivotal years that come loaded with rights and new experiences, a birthday is just another calendar day that passes as the sun makes an appearance and then heads off to bed. There’s no reason to let your age deem who you’re going to be for the next 365 days. Your age doesn’t change you, living your life does. 

That’s the secret of turning twenty.  


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Elly is a Sophomore in the College of Communications studying Advertising, but would also like to minor with Marine Sciences. She loves the beach, anything having to do with the ocean, and thinks everyone should work to make the world a little better than it was when we got here.
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