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Getting Real About Turning 20: A Gen Z Story

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

As someone fluent in everyday midlife crises, I am very familiar with not knowing for sure if I’m making the right life choices. It feels like as soon as you turn twenty the game changes completely, also having to figure out your life in less than two years if you’re in college. Add thinking about how you’re going to pay off school debt and you have yourself a perfect setup for a 40-year-old minority queer woman living in her mom’s basement (thanks a lot FAFSA). 

What I’m trying to say is the system is messed up for those of us just getting ready to take on this world and all it has to offer. Being a newly turned 20-year-old, I only have one fear and it’s not death; it’s my future and what it holds for me. And obviously, everyone fears the unknown, but there is just something about failure being so much more real for my generation than the others that came before us. Being young you tend to not think about the next steps, or rather, what those next steps are, and for those of us who found our passion after being forced to decide how we want to live our lives, you best believe that most employers won’t even bother giving your resumé a second thought.

In turn, when you can’t achieve an entry-level job in the career that makes your passion fire burn hot, it results in mental and emotional deficits, which seems to have become quite the trend for my generation. Not only do we have to worry about our future, but we also have to keep in mind the future of this country. What are our views on gun control? How do we feel about the electoral college? Pro-choice or Pro-life? And are all immigrants criminals or do they just want a better life than what their country could provide for them? Laws and policies and taxes, oh my! 

If we’re being completely honest, I don’t even know how to apply for my own loan. In high school they teach you how to find x and the Pythagorean theorem, but what they should be teaching us is how to become a member of society and the basics of adulting. Honestly, if I could go back in time and talk to my 17-year-old self I’d tell myself, “Don’t be in such a rush to leave home, save your money, apply for scholarships. Stay in-state, double major for a secure backup plan and become familiar with your rights.” Maybe I’m writing this piece less as a 20-year-old Gen Z, who’s probably not going to have a job after graduation, and more as a dreamer who wishes she’d have more opportunities to be prepared for the realities of life.


Karla is a 2021 cum laude graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Karla is originally from Maryland and is very proud of Karla's Afro-Latinx heritage. Karla is currently in pursuit of a career in TV/film acting, and Karla's dream role would be to portray a superhero. In Karla's free time Karla enjoys reading, watching Netflix (no chill necessary), and taking long walks on the metaphorical beach to universal equity.
Emely is a rising junior at The University of Tampa. She studies advertising and PR with a focusing on digital marketing. When she isn't bumping to J Cole, Drake or Aventura she's reading up on anything astrological, or editing photos for her food IG. As a New York City native, she loves exploring the cities micro-neighborhoods for their cuisine, music, and fashion. If you want to know more about Emely, follow her on Instagram - @aemiliatertia - or Twitter - @ThatEmely