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

The night I turned 20, I mourned the end of my adolescence with a few tears. The following year when I turned 21, I locked myself in my room during my party. The muffled sounds of loud music and drunk arguments became silent. I laid on that floor for 10 minutes watching myself cry. That was the first year I felt like I was no longer 17.  A few weeks ago, I turned 22. The tears and existential dread came earlier than in years past. The silent tears from 21 turned into a complete breakdown by 22. Each year, the anxiety of aging has become more painful and consuming.

For the longest time, I was confused by these feelings. I’m only 22: my feelings about age are unprecedented. So, I was convinced I was the problem. I thought a 20-something birthday could not pass without feelings of loss and a cascade of tears because I love a touch of drama. However, a month into 22, I have begun to understand the real reason behind these feelings. For so long, we have all been told our 20s are the best years of our lives. We were told that you would find yourself, have freedom, love and have this enchanting way about you. As a 20-something-year-old woman, you had the world in the palm of your hand. We were told it was going to be magical. Now, as a miss 20-something, I know they were all lying.

The reality of being 20-something is endless confusion, loneliness and disappointment with moments of pure joy. None of us know what we are doing. We pretend for the LinkedIn update and Instagram photo dumps. The notion that we lose our value as we age haunts us. However, as good feminists, we would never admit it.  In our early 20s, we spend too much time longing for the teenage angst we once had. Acknowledging that everything we were told was a lie seems far too painful, so we let ourselves be consumed by the disappointment. The world owes us nothing but they all made it seem like we would have the knowledge and confidence to conquer it. 

My favorite modern philosopher, Taylor Alison Swift, is one of the few who did not give into the 20s scam. Her song “Nothing New” is the perfect verbal representation of a miss 20-something’s mental state. The pressure of time and longing for the false confidence of 18 is a special kind of pain. But understanding that these feelings come from a false promise created by crumbling social standards has let me take back my 20-something joy. Finding comfort in songs, people and little moments combat the existential dread. It also makes you feel 17 again. Being a miss 20-something looks far different than expected, but I still wouldn’t change a thing.

All these realities of being in your 20s make it sound dreadful. This was never my intention. While being a 20-something-year-old woman comes with emotional stress, it has also been the most beautiful part of life thus far. As I have moved past my disappointment of the many lies, I have started to see the real beauty of your 20s. The false confidence of 18 pales in comparison to the journey of getting to know who you are.

For all the miss 20-somethings, it may be best to confront the lies and get comfortable with the unknown. Put the expectations you had in the past and learn to live in your little pockets of happiness. There is no deadline or definition of 20-something success. Take your time with life. Enjoy all the confusion and mess of growing into whom you are meant to be. Embrace every part of being 20-something before it has passed you by.

But what do I know? I’m only 22.

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Senior at Florida State University. Editing, writing, and media major with a minor in communications.