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How Can a Person Know Everything at 18 but Nothing at 21?

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

Taylor Swift famously said, “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22?” in her song “Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” which has been the story of my life recently. I turned 21 in May and have had many existential crises as a result of it. My clothing no longer fits the same, my face isn’t as full as it once was, my interests have changed, but worst of all… like most other people my age, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. 

I arrived at college at the age of 18 with my head held high and my goals big. So much desire and excitement for this new sense of freedom and change. I was unaware of how different my life would be in three years. The bright-eyed 18-year-old girl who came to college to become a nurse is now 21 years old, and she has no idea what to tell her family when they ask, “What are your plans after you graduate?”  

When I turned 16, I couldn’t wait to be 18. I always wished to be older but now that I am 21, I don’t even know myself at times. I no longer have the same enthusiasm for the things that used to make me happy. Due to all the changes I underwent, I occasionally feel cut off from my younger self and think of her as someone different from me. The strange thing is that I don’t despise change, and I don’t believe that change should be viewed negatively. We have all been told “You’ve changed” by someone close to us. The problem is that change can be unsettling. I constantly yearn for the past since my life is not the same as it once was. I find it difficult to live in the now because I am aware that this day won’t happen again. 

Change is normal! Your interests won’t stay the same forever, and even the people in our lives aren’t designed to last forever. People change and grow apart, which might be frightening because the life we had imagined will inevitably change at some point. Dreams change, life happens, and rejection is common. It’s hard to plan our goals and see those dreams not occur and feel like we failed. Even though we all understand that change is inevitable, dealing with these changes can be challenging. As I grew older, I struggled with my weight change because my clothes no longer fit the way they used to. I had to deal with new insecurities because it appeared that everyone had seen these changes, and comments about my appearance made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who had noticed them.  

I was much more confident in myself when I was younger than I am today. I was more self-assured, and the world was my oyster. I wasn’t ready for the challenges that life would soon hurl at me. I wouldn’t change anything though, because everything that has happened to me has shaped me into the woman I am today. Yes, I miss who I was at times because I was much more eager and had a certain radiance about me, but I have also learned so much about life. 

For the time being, I turn on my AirPods and listen to Taylor Swift sing, “How did I go from growing up to breaking down?” This lyric provides me a sense of comfort knowing that even the most successful women can relate to the experience of aging as a woman in our society.  

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Hello, my name is Cynthia, and I am a senior studying politics and sociology. I love to write and aspire to work as a political reporter.