Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
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 UCD chapter.

Honestly, when I turned 20, I didn’t feel any different—but I was officially two decades old. My outlook on life remained the same and so did everything else. Maybe it was because my birthday was in the summer and life was simpler and calmer without the rush of school.

This feeling of being old didn’t actually hit until about 2 months after my birthday when school started. As the syllabus week of the Fall quarter flew by and midterm season slowly crept in and settled in the back of my mind, I returned to Davis with a new perspective.

I wasn’t a freshman still trying to navigate and familiarize myself around campus nor was I a sophomore still taking GE’s. Junior year was really happening and I was already halfway done with my college career. Only taking upper-division, major-related courses gave me a sense of direction as I finally felt that I was taking courses I was interested in and that would prepare me for the post-grad future. On top of the more challenging third-year courses, I wanted to begin studying for the LSAT in preparation for my law school applications next year. Even dedicating two hours a day forced me to find a balance between what I wanted to accomplish in a day as well as giving myself enough time for self-care and mental breaks. Most of the time, I simply felt that there wasn’t enough time in the day. I prioritized academics and began to identify my most meaningful friendships while reconciling with the fact that some of my friends and I just grew apart as a result of different goals. 

At least for me, I learned that I really valued high-quality yet lower-maintenance friendships. That is, friends that I can reach out to every once in a while and still maintain that strong bond. I found that these friendships also felt the most genuine; we respect each other’s time and space and we don’t place unrealistic expectations of needing to hang out every single day. 

Sure, I can still go out but I am also immensely grateful for the time I have to myself—I just have to remind myself that academics isn’t everything. Yes, focus on school but also yes, give yourself a break when you need it. To me, being 20 is about finding that balance. I am focused on developing professional skills and preparing for my post-grad (very near) future but also making time for genuine friendships that are comforting, stress-free, and fun. It is about adapting to change. Some days I won’t be able to dedicate some time to study or go to the gym and that’s okay. Not everything will go according to plan but being flexible is part of my new outlook as a 20-year-old. I try to do what I can one day and reprioritize for the next. 

For me, being 20 is a whole new level of adulthood and I’ll be 21 next year (which is definitely too soon) but I’m hoping to learn more life lessons as I slowly discover my sense of self throughout my journey of being 20—and being in my 20’s.

Phoebe is a current third-year at UC Davis majoring in Economics and Science & Technology Studies. She hopes to attend law school in the future. Outside of her academic interests, she enjoys trying new foods, spending time with friends, and traveling.