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An Ode to the Teenage Girl in Her Twenties

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

In my head, I am still the silly sixteen-year-old high school sophomore who had never seen an N95 mask except for on rom-com medical shows, had definitely never heard of COVID-19 and whose number one concern in life was picking out the perfect homecoming dress that was unique yet still trendy. 

In reality, I am freshly 20-years-old, in the fall semester of my sophomore year with responsibilities like maintaining my credit score, preparing for my future career in nursing and keeping all realms of my psychosocial, physical and spiritual self intact. I signed an apartment lease, I’m soon to jet-set across Europe without my parents in the spring and I will be taking care of real, live patients in about a month.

At first, I thought turning twenty felt like becoming too old to trick-or-treat. Suddenly, all of your friends think it’s too cringey to dress up on Halloween but at the same time, your mom is insisting that you recreate that darling Disney princess costume you used to wear when you were five. The friends that you want to fit in with are egging you on to explore an abandoned building, but the friends you feel yourself with are all dressing up as black cats (the black leggings and Adidas Superstars combo, of course). You start to feel like you aren’t allowed to enjoy the things you do because the Earth decided to make another trip around the sun.

I’ve always been one of those people that cries on their birthday. I don’t have the best track record of being able to handle change with grace, nor do I think I am particularly wise or ready to be fully independent. I hate that I don’t have the answers to everything, I hate that I can’t immediately be an expert in every hobby I try and I hate that I feel as if I am teetering on a fine line between guilt and liberation whenever I allow myself to experience new adventures. 

But the beauty of becoming a year older, a year wiser, if you will, is realizing that the past versions of yourself are meant to encourage you to broaden your horizons, not hinder your growth. I once read in a beauty magazine in the fifth grade that you should always end your hot showers with a cold rinse to help your hair grow longer. Do I think that’s true? I have no idea! But do I still end every shower, shivering for thirty seconds? Absolutely!

The same idea applies to the way we build our worlds. We trust that the resources found within the media and within our friends are meant to help us. Sometimes, that trust totally backfires on us (sorry, St. Ives Apricot Scrub). And yet, we continue on in the world and we continue to discover more things about ourselves in order to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be

I have had friends who wanted to lead me down the wrong path and would do everything to break down my confidence. They would talk poorly behind my back, but to my face would smile as if they hadn’t just said the most sinister things about me–maybe you have had a similar experience–but those bad stages of my adolescence didn’t mean I had a bad life. No rain, no flowers, right? A bad experience just calls for a good story. Good stories lead you to make better decisions. Better decisions allow you to navigate what you truly value in life. For the record, the friends I have now are super awesome and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

I can be twenty and still love all of the typical teenage girl things that I have always loved. Now, I know the difference between venting and gossiping. I’ve learned to shape my language to one that uplifts and includes others. I binge-watch “Grey’s Anatomy” and rewatch the same five movies repeatedly. I shamelessly obsess over Taylor Swift and buy journals that I’ll never finish. I can be twenty and still order myself a sweet treat every hour of the day.

Actually, I’m not sure if I ever need much convincing to justify that last one anyway.

I’m learning to be okay with the fact that I am human, and I deserve the same grace that I would extend to others. My healing and yours will not happen in a straight line or at a time that we feel is most convenient. I don’t know who I am yet, and that is just fine. I no longer feel the pressure to fit in with a certain group of friends. I still cry on my birthday every year, and I am okay with that. I am working on how to exchange the crushing weight of anxiety in my heart for the feather-light feeling of peace. 

To the teenage girl that lives in us, no matter how old we get–you were built to last through these seasons of change, and you will be better for it.

HC Writer at Saint Louis University. I like coffee crawls, buying books I'll never read, and Sunday mornings!