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The Illusion Of Knowing It All At 18 And Embracing Growth At 22: Insights From Taylor Swift’s “Nothing New”

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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 UNH chapter.

Dear College Women,

Do you ever feel like you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of self-discovery from the age of 18 to 22? Trust me, you’re not alone. There’s something beautifully chaotic about this phase of life, when we transition from the confidence of thinking we know it all to the humbling realization that there’s so much more to learn. As my 22nd birthday looms on the horizon, I find myself in a reflective mood, tracing the contours of my college journey. Taylor Swift, a fellow Sagittarius, lyrically explores this age as it is marked by a delicate balance between youthful exuberance and the weight of newfound responsibilities, echoing the rollercoaster ride of self-discovery that characterizes this pivotal time in our lives.

In the ever-changing symphony of life, Taylor Swift’s music has often served as a compass, guiding us through the complex landscapes of love, heartbreak and the relentless passage of time. With the release of her reimagined album Red (Taylor’s Version), Swift gives us not only a nostalgic trip down memory lane but also a poignant reminder of the multifaceted journey of self-discovery.

Among the treasures unearthed from the vault is the hauntingly beautiful collaboration, “Nothing New,” featuring the talents of Phoebe Bridgers. This track, encapsulated within the album’s tapestry, resonates profoundly with those navigating the waters of young adulthood — a reflection on the paradoxical sensation of feeling both knowledgeable and yet utterly unaware as we transition from adolescence to early adulthood.

At 18, I wore the cloak of premature certainty, convinced I was ahead of the curve in life’s race. I believed I had a roadmap to adulthood neatly folded in my back pocket. Brimming with youthful confidence, I mistook limited experiences for profound wisdom, believing I had unraveled life’s complexities long before their time. Yet, fate had its own script to unfurl. The global pandemic disrupted the expected rhythm of my senior year of high school, leaving me standing at the edge of uncertainty. The absence of a formal graduation and the sudden halt to familiar routines forced a stark realization upon me — I didn’t possess all the answers I thought I did. In the absence of the expected closure, I found myself grappling with an unfamiliar sensation: the humbling acknowledgment that the future wasn’t as clear-cut as I once presumed. It was amidst this chaos that the fog of certainty dissipated, revealing the vast expanse of the unknown, and with it, the invitation to explore who I truly wanted to become.

Entering college, I was eager to absorb knowledge, both academic and experiential. I was eager to challenge myself, explore new ideas and meet people from diverse backgrounds. Every conversation felt like a new revelation, every class an opportunity to expand my mind. However, amidst this learning, I started noticing gaps in my understanding. What I thought I knew wasn’t always accurate, and being presented with choices made me more and more indecisive. Life’s complexities began unraveling before me, and suddenly, I felt like I knew less than I did before.

The transition from 18 to 22 wasn’t just about gaining knowledge; it was about unlearning too. I realized that growth doesn’t come solely from accumulating facts; it arises from embracing uncertainty and acknowledging what we don’t know. I discovered the beauty of curiosity, of being open to learning from everyone and every experience. It was a phase where I accepted that it’s okay not to have all the answers.

Now, at (almost) 22, I’ve come to appreciate the value of humility in learning. I’ve learned that true wisdom lies not in pretending to know everything but in admitting our limitations and being eager to learn. I’ve discovered the power of asking questions, seeking guidance and being comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing it all.

Life isn’t a checklist to complete by a certain age; it’s a journey of continuous growth. As college women, we are on the brink of adulthood, and it’s natural to feel the pressure of having it all figured out. But let me assure you, it’s perfectly fine to not have everything figured out. Embrace the unknown, cherish the journey of discovery and relish the fact that you’re constantly evolving.

So, to all the incredible young women out there, don’t be disheartened by the feeling of knowing less at 22 than you did at 18. Instead, celebrate this newfound wisdom and the vast possibilities it opens. Embrace the journey of learning, unlearning and relearning because therein lies the magic of growth and self-discovery.


One College Woman on a Journey of Self-Growth

UNH nursing student, beach bum, book worm, and health & wellness lover from Cape Cod, MA!