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The Bittersweet Feeling of Turning 20

This month, I turned 20. As soon as August 19th hit, I was overwhelmed by excitement, fear, hope and anxiety. I didn’t realize the internalized pressure I’d been putting on myself in regards to this milestone. For years, I had been placing an immense amount of weight on this number, this birthday, this year. By 20, I will have everything together. 

By 20, I’ll know for sure what I want to do with my life. By 20, I’ll feel like an actual adult. 

But none of these imposed mantras seemed to have any validity when the clock stuck struck 12. I was simultaneously proud of the work I had done this year, from getting my poetry published to building beautiful relationships with people I love, but there was still a pang of fear in my chest. It’s a well-known fact that our culture and society highlight people who have made it big, but more than that, highlight the people who have made it big at a young age. The thought that I’m not doing enough in my life crosses my mind on a daily basis and I’m sure part of that is a by-product of what I see on social media. 

[bf_image id="q5yft8-c34lxc-at1sl3"] The night before my birthday, I dyed my hair. It was a small act of change that I knew I needed and even though I laughed at myself for being a cliche, I relished in the blonde pieces of my hair that turned golden in the sunlight. I basked in the feeling of looking slightly older. My new hair is a physical representation of what I hope this year will bring for me: growth. 

I quickly realized that turning 20 didn’t have to be a deep, philosophical turning point for me — it could just be another year to melt into myself, keep working hard, and focus on maintaining my aura. I’ve noticed that the peak of my passion and intellect always emerges when I remove deadlines and pressure from my creative endeavours. I don’t have to answer to anyone other than myself and I’m sure the people around me are too caught up in their own timelines to delve into mine. 

[bf_image id="q2wim2-1wj21k-80rr9t"] On my 20th birthday, I spent time with my friends who meant the most to me. I got dressed up, did my makeup, and put on a satin dress that made me feel like I was the lead in a romantic comedy. But most importantly, I wrote down a list of accomplishments and goals for the upcoming year — some as small as stretching every morning and night. 

My departure from being a teenager was the perfect gateway into a new era, which I know will bring exactly what I need in my journey moving forward. 

Alysha Mohamed

Queen's U '22

Queen's University. Writing, creating, and probably drinking chai.
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