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

My 22nd year has encroached upon me, and I have no idea how I got here. 

There is a scene in the film Ladybird where the titular character walks down to a corner shop on her 18th birthday to buy a box of cigarettes and a dirty magazine. It’s a pivotal moment for any teenager. To wait an entire year on the precipice of adulthood, to almost taste the lurid tang of a cheap cigarette, to smile to yourself as you anticipate your imminent liberation – only to wake up and feel the very same. I sat up in my bed on my 18th birthday, glanced around my room, and nearly felt surprised that everything was in the exact place as it was the night before. 

And that is how I have felt for four years since then. 

Despite having revolved around the Earth for the 22nd time and being able to do all the things adults can, I still feel seventeen. Presumably, it’s because I’m still a student, or maybe I’m insecure, but I have yet to feel like an adult. I have yet to feel a sense of competence or confidence. I find myself as heavily torn between girlhood and womanhood as I did a couple of years ago. No one else seems to be at violent odds with who they are, or at least, I can’t tell. I wonder: When will I grow up? When will I be the woman I was meant to be or fit in with other women my age? Am I alone on this trek?

I’m not sure. Truthfully, I think this social precariousness is something that has always lingered — I fear that I have always felt like an outsider, which is not something that changes overnight — and certainly not between my 365th day of being seventeen and my 366th. I am afraid that I will never be able to shake this feeling, that I will always be aimlessly wandering, looking around for something I cannot find. But what am I missing? How could I know that I’m missing something at all?

I am calling out into the vast unknown: Where are all the girls who do not know who they are? Where are all the women who feel the weight of insecurity rattling in their bones? Perhaps I am conflating the concept of adulthood with the completion of the notion of being whole. Yet, what does that mean? Maybe the best thing I can do is make peace with the inexplicable; that being whole is different from what I had in mind. It is not about finishing my plate clean when I cannot eat another bite but knowing when to stop and accepting that. Although, acceptance can look a lot like defeat. Am I giving up, or am I just letting go? 

Who knows? I don’t have the answers to everything, and that’s alright. The nice thing about growing older is that it gives way to major introspection. Sometimes I cringe, sometimes I lament, and sometimes I am enraged. What’s crucial is that I have learned and that I am still learning. Above all, I am a person, and I should grant myself room for imperfection. I am not one of those “self-love” girls, and I don’t think I ever will be. What I’m proposing is a matter of dignity or respect and more importantly, the fundamental understanding of my own personal humanity. Insecurity and confusion are congenital aspects of life. I will never be like anyone else, for no one else will be like me. It’s okay if I’m not where everyone else is, so I sharply inhale and reassure myself that it will be alright — I will be alright. 

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Hi, I'm Aliya Carrington. I am an FSU student studying Women's Studies and Film. I love to write recreationally and for HerCampus!