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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chapel Hill chapter.

At the time of writing, I am almost 22.

Cue Taylor Swift’s “22,” the modern musical representation of what it means to make it past 21, the mark of maturing adulthood. 

But, I don’t feel like an adult. I feel suspended in a mentality similar to when I was 15, unsure of what I was doing or wanted to do with my life (thoughts I shouldn’t have felt the need to worry about at that age). Still, I have grown and gained perspectives that weren’t there at 15. I am aware that I think with the level of life experience that I currently have. But, there is so much I still question and don’t know, an uncertainty that makes me hesitant to believe that I am a worthy candidate for the title of “adult.” And yet, I understand that at my age, it is normal to not know everything. So why do I feel like I need to know everything? It’s as if with each year that gets ticked off my lifespan, I edge towards the failure of not having discovered the meaning of life or gaining unique wisdom.

Growing up, I (likely alongside many others) desired to be an adult as quickly as possible for many reasons, but mostly having to do with one thing: a desire for freedom.

And yet, there is no freedom in increasing rent prices and car insurance payments, in a deteriorating climate, in needing to survive a pandemic, in overwhelming student debt, in never-ending social oppression, or in the minimum wage not keeping up with inflation. There is no freedom in hitting your early 20s and having to think that even with a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university, it might be incredibly hard to buy modern necessities within a capitalistic economy. There is no freedom in fear.

But, I am grateful for another year to try. To try and become a version of myself that makes the search for freedom, the fear and frustration that comes with this search, and everything in between, worthwhile. Maybe this is what becoming an adult is: recognizing that life is a wave, characterized by those that crash and those that cradle.

Teresa Ruiz Vazquez

Chapel Hill '23

Teresa Ruiz Vazquez is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying English and Political Science.