One thing about me is that I love celebrating. I find so much joy in every holiday. No matter what holiday it is, I will find a way to celebrate. This habit of mine, of course, also applies to birthdays. However, this year will be different. This year I have to relinquish my title of “teenage girl.” With this development in my life has come a lot of existential dread. Part of me doesn’t know who I am if I’m not just a silly teenage girl.
The threat of 20 has caused me many sleepless nights, many tears, and plenty of anxiety. 20 feels like my first real step into adulthood. 18 is legally an adult, but 20 feels official. It feels like the end of girlhood is looming upon me.
One way I’ve been trying to cope with this is denial. Anytime my birthday comes up I say, “I don’t know what you mean. I’m literally just a 16-year-old girl.” In my heart, I’m 16 and that’s really all that matters, right?
The COVID-19 pandemic is partly to blame for my fixation on 16. I was 16 when it started, and so I still feel 16 now. I hate to think that I peaked at 16, but I do miss having no responsibilities and being able to rely on my parents for literally everything. 20 feels like the beginning of adulthood, so the heart of my teenage years is starting to look more and more appealing.
Luckily (or unluckily) for me, one of my roommates is a fellow Libra turning 20 this week. We’ve been able to bond over our dread about this birthday. We may be feeding on each other’s dread and perpetuating our own, but it’s nice to have someone else to talk about this with. Besides him, I’m the oldest in my friend group. Everyone else I know feels neutral toward 20. I too was once young and naïve to the big black cloud that is 20. I didn’t care. But as my birthday gets closer and closer, that cloud is getting bigger and darker. I don’t want to say that no one else understands me, because that’s quite the dramatic claim, but 20 feels lonely. I feel lucky to have one other person I can enter 20 with, but I’m jealous that everyone else gets to be a teenager for a little longer.
Now, all of this isn’t to say that I won’t be celebrating my twentieth birthday; I always celebrate, and this is no exception. However, this celebration isn’t necessarily because I’m happy to turn 20, but mostly because it’s an excuse to celebrate, and a way to help me forget. I’ve been pretty much inviting everyone I’ve ever met to this party. I told all of my friends that I want to go all out. I asked them for decorations, snacks, and of course a sash and tiara. My party is a pink out because having a Barbie party seemed lame, even though that was really what I wanted to do. Kids have Barbie parties, while 20-year-olds have pink outs. I wish this celebration was purely out of excitement for getting one year older like usual, but serving as a distraction will have to do.
To my fellow Libras, happy birthday! And to my fellow 2003 Libras, we’ve got this. I’ve been trying my best to get excited about 20. I know, logically, 20 is still young, and I’ve got a lot of living left to do. I know realistically nothing has to change between 19 and 20, but man does it suck to see those teenage years go. My birthday is Oct. 15, and I do have quite the celebration planned. It spans four days and starts with seeing Noah Kahan in concert on Oct. 12 and ends with cake on Oct. 15. Over these four days, I plan on reminding myself that 20 is something worth celebrating, not forgetting. Adulthood doesn’t have to be scary; it can be exciting. But until those four days, I’m letting myself be sad.