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Mental Health

A Reflection on Turning 20 Years Old: Growing Up, Living Life & Embracing The Unknown

This past week, I stopped being a teenager, and it sort of sucks. SInce my birthday was during the coronavirus quarantine and I had no friends to celebrate with and distract me, all I could do was sit in my room and reflect. I feel like my youth is over and I did not have as much fun as I should have. I feel pressured to have my life put together and my future planned out. 

party scene concert

In the media, the portrayals of an idealized teenage life is full of beach bonfires, road trips and house parties, and I did not get much of that growing up. When I got to college, I thought maybe I would suddenly have that sort of lifestyle, but it still did not happen. Now that I have turned 20, it feels like I have wasted my youth and missed out on the time to have fun. But the truth is, no one’s life is always filled with fun. Anyone’s life can look like an Instagrammable indie movie montage if you put a VHS filter and a song over a few pretty video clips. The average everyday life of a teenager is not what it seems like in the movies. It is hard not to compare myself to others, but it is important to keep in mind that most of the time, we are all just sitting in our rooms doing homework or watching Netflix. I know that everyone only posts the most exciting moments of their lives online, so I have been trying to remind myself that I should not be worrying about whether I am having as much fun as others based on pictures of them hanging out with their friends.

stressed teen guy

There is also a lot of pressure on college students to have everything figured out. The idea of graduating in two years stresses me out, because I feel like I need to have my dream job lined up straight out of college. This is made even harder by the fact that I am not always sure exactly what my dream job even is. There are so many things I want to do, but it just is not possible to do them all. When surrounded by so many accomplished people who seem to know exactly what they want in life, it is easy to forget that they all get stressed too. This pressure to already be happy and successful feels especially strong on young women, who are often told we need to be married before 25 and have children by 30. I get worried sometimes that I am running out of time to focus on myself and my goals if I do not want to be lonely. But, there is no reason I need to give up my goals once I hit a certain age. There is still plenty of time to accomplish whatever I want to, and there should not be so much pressure to do it so quickly.

I am definitely nervous about what lies ahead, but I know deep down that not everything is going to change for the worse. I will continue having fun and growing. Being a teenager is great sometimes, but being older will be great, too.

Rachel is the Co-Campus Correspondent and Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time, she loves hanging around flea markets and exploring different neighborhoods in LA!
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