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Life > Experiences

Why Turning Twenty Is Scary & Why It Doesn’t Need To Be

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

This time last year, I was turning 19 and I felt awful. In all fairness, I had a very bad cold, but most of the feeling could be attributed to the fact that it was my last birthday that ended in teen. I had no idea how to reconcile being myself while being an adult. I didn’t have a car, a credit card, or anything that I felt an adult would. In my mind, nothing about me made sense as a 20-year-old. In fact, I felt more like I was 14. I’m very aware of how melodramatic this all sounds, that the things I am mentioning are trivial, and that nothing really changes from nineteen to twenty, but that just adds to my point. Being scared of something that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things was very instinctive to me, it had been happening ever since I turned thirteen. My entire teenage years had been plagued with anxiety. So in that regard shouldn’t I be happy to leave them behind? Well to answer that question, on my 19th birthday I saw a quote by singer/songwriter extraordinaire Lorde that read “All my life I’ve been obsessed with adolescence, drunk on it. Even when I was little I knew that teenagers sparkled. They knew something children didn’t and adults ended up forgetting.” I knew I sparkled. From 13 to 19 no matter how bad things got or how anxious I was I knew that I sparkled, and I did not want to stop sparkling. Worse, I didn’t want to get older and forget what sparkling felt like. 

Since then my 20th birthday was something I was dreading, and I had always loved my birthday. I would countdown starting months before and my friends and I called it the best day of the year. No one loves their birthday more than I do, but I was so nervous. I was nervous I would turn twenty and nothing about my personality would make sense anymore. I would be a 20-year-old girl who acted like a teenager. My birthday wasn’t a day I looked forward to anymore, it was a deadline. A deadline to change all of the things about myself that I thought were immature, obsessive, dramatic, or anything teenage girls are called all the time. Now I’m two days from 20 and I am excited. I am excited for my birthday like I always am and I’m also excited to enter a new decade of my life. It took a long time to get to this point. I first had to realize no one cares. No one cares what you do when you are whatever age. I can be 20 years old and still wait outside all day to get front row at a concert. I can be 20 years old and be obsessed with shows about love triangles set in high school. No one cares what you do at what age because everyone is worrying about themselves. People who make it seem like doing something at a certain age is stupid, are just projecting.

I also had to realize that being a teenager was not that integral to who I was as a person, I just tied everything I liked to being a teenager because I was one. Nothing is inherently teenage. You don’t have to get your license at 16. You don’t have to go to university at 18. If there’s no age limit on something it’s because there isn’t a distinct age you have to do it by. I learned all of this when I was 19, but my best friend has probably known this since she was 12 because she knows everything. What I’m getting at here is the things that define me don’t have an age limit. And maybe the things that define me now won’t define me forever, not because of how many years it’s been since 2004, but because I’m learning and experiencing new things and growing.

Turning 20 was scary because I made it scary. I made it seem like I had to leave behind everything I loved and turn into a new person. I convinced myself that I had to stop sparkling. And while I agree with everything Lorde says, I have to disagree on that one. I sparkle because of who I am and not because of how old I am. And who knows maybe this whole article is idealistic and when you become an adult reality seeps in and you have real responsibilities. Or maybe you always have reality and responsibilities no matter how old you are and the only way to truly sparkle is to just be yourself. I sparkle because I write very dramatic articles about getting older and how much I love my friends and how I need to learn everything about every song I listen to. Sparkling doesn’t have an age limit. 

Aisha Sulyman

McMaster '26

Aisha Sulyman is a part-writer for the Her Campus McMaster chapter. She writes about everything, but mostly her passions which include movies, music and mental health! This is her first year writing for Her Campus but she has been writing for her personal enjoyment her whole life. Outside of Her Campus, Aisha is a general member of the McMaster Mock Trial team where she acts out imagined court cases and competes with other mock trial teams. She is also a member of Law Aspiring Black Students, a club where black students can make meaningful connections in the law world. Her last time writing for a reason other than school was her column in her town's local newspaper while she was in high school. She is currently in her second year of Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law at McMaster University. When she is not doing homework or writing for Her Campus, Aisha enjoys reading, going on walks and analyzing song lyrics. She has a fondness for watching reality TV or fan-made edits on TikTok. She spends her Thursday evenings at trivia with her roommates and sometimes dabbles in (awful) karaoke.