How Does It Feel To Be 20?

By Mireya Perez

A few days ago I turned 20. I was the first one in my group of friends to hit the two-decade mark, and so everyone was asking me: how does it feel?
Photo: whatsupcairo.com

The thing is, nothing in my life has changed, yet things seem slightly different than they did a few months ago. There's this itch crawling under my skin I can't get rid off. I look around and see people my age getting engaged, dropping out of college, getting jobs and coming back to their parent's house after having tested independence for a while. We're all the same age, yet it feels as if we're taking 40 different directions when, in high school, there was barely left or right to choose from.

So, how do 20's feel for me, anyway?

Have you ever had that feeling which sinks down the chambers of your ribcage, when one sudden morning you wake up and check the time, only to realise you are late? Your alarm didn't ring and you missed something important, when everyone else got there ahead of time.

Social media and tv give the spotlight to young people in their teens and twenties who have already achieved great success: singers, models, actors. You're browsing twitter and you see the news: the next big star is years younger than you. It feels as if these people had their whole life together since birth and you're just sitting there, browsing twitter. It feels as if the media was asking you directly, while pointing a finger at you: what have YOU archieved so far?

When I was little, my favorite question to ask to other kids was “so what do you want to be when you grow older?” Now that I am older, it’s a question I dread vehemently. Back then, there was no responsibility, no money, no prejudice nor ability that could stop my mind from wandering. I could be whatever, whoever, whenever.

Being older feels as if your self introspection is more audible to your consciousness now and instils in you an alarming hastiness, telling you it’s time. Set your priorities straight and cling to a direction.

But, no matter what the media nor other people’s expectations try to say to us, the truth is no veil can prevent me to see that there is no such thing as having life truly figured out. No matter if people are 17, 20, 24, 30 or 51.

Most people I know are doing their best, and their best means different things to different people. For some it means having stability, or accomplish success; for others, it means graduating late, or getting used to a job you don’t enjoy, or taking some time from their daily lives just to be able to wonder as if they were little again. Most of them are just actors improvising their role in life.

Being 20 feels as if there was a lot of expectations on my back and too many choices to make. But that's also a reminder that I'm young, I can choose to do a lot of things, and there are tons of astonishing experiences waiting for me. I just need to keep moving forward.