I Turned 20 & I Had A Mini-Crisis: How To Deal With Getting Older

I always joked that I was going to have a crisis when I turned 20. I already hated being 19 because I felt that I was getting old, but 20 would be a different kind of old. My age would no longer end with “teen,” I would be even more of an adult, and I didn’t know if I was ready for that. After multiple conversations with friends and family, I finally started to become calm and thought I was ready for my birthday. This would be a new chapter; I should be excited! Well, that feeling abruptly ended at 11:45 PM February 25th, 15 minutes before the clock struck twelve, and I would officially be entering my 20s. My 20th birthday crisis I joked about was becoming a bit too real. 

Birthday Cake being lit Photo by Marina Utrabo from Pexels

As the clock continually ticked, I became more and more anxious. By 11:50, I pulled out a carton of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Ice Cream to stress eat. By 11:55, I was going back and forth with my friends over group chat as they walked me through the five-minute countdown to midnight. When my phone officially flashed 12:00 across the screen, my group chat filled with “happy birthday” messages. I didn’t know what to feel. I was still in denial and kept telling myself that I still had 22 hours of being 19 because I wasn’t born until 10:20 PM. At that point, every moment, every minute and every detail was important to me. 

My birthday passed, and it was a really fun day and weekend. I saw my family and friends, went on a socially distanced day trip and truly felt loved. However, I kept having this nagging feeling in my gut that I was officially 20. I kept asking myself questions such as “Who am I?",” “Am I doing anything significant with my life?”, “Am I on track?” I even thought about applying to grad school after college, and there is no fiber in my entire being that actually wants to go to grad school. I didn’t feel like myself. I kept questioning my life choices and choices I should make in the future. Essentially, I was having a mini-identity crisis: a quarter-life crisis. 

Back-to-school supplies, agenda Alexa Williams

Even as I write this piece, a week past my birthday, it still feels foreign to say I’m twenty; I still feel old. However, I am getting better each day. I think my mini-crisis lasted about 72 hours, and now, I’m just feeling the aftershocks of it. It doesn’t help that every time I go onto an app like Bumble, my age is plastered across my screen.

The reality is that growing up in a world of social media is hard because you are constantly comparing yourself and your goals to others. I see people my age or younger starting their own businesses, going viral, living on their own, being in a well-established and happy relationship on track for marriage, and seemingly having all their ducks in a row. I’m not like that at all. I’m a single, 20-year-old undergrad student who doesn’t even have her driver's license yet (that’s a work in progress), but honestly, that’s okay! A wise woman—my therapist—once told me that you don’t want to peak in high school or college or even your mid-20s because you have so much of your life ahead of you. If you accomplish everything now, you have nothing to look forward to in life. Therefore, I am happy where I am right now. Sure, the pandemic has slowed down some of my plans, but I am still working towards my goals, and that is what matters.  Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

Time doesn’t slow down for anyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to get to our goals and accomplishments as quickly as possible. In life, my motto is “the slower things take, the sweeter the success.” As someone with three disorders, it's a phrase that’s given me comfort and encouragement, and now, I just need to use it in a different context. Yes, I am 20, and I may feel like a grandma, but deep down, I know I’m not. I know I still have years ahead of me to chase my dreams and reach for the stars. For now, I am going to continue taking life at my own pace, and not compare myself to others. As I work towards both my small and big milestones, I’m going to enjoy all the moments that life throws at me. So, I may cringe that I changed my age range preference on Bumble and Hinge, but hey, at least I’m less than 365 days until my 21st birthday. I’ll probably be too excited to have another crisis then.