In Which I’m 20 Now And Somehow Miss Being Young

So I’m 20 now. That’s…exciting. I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m an adult. If I were a book, I’d be YA.

Birthdays never feel different to me. I never feel older because of a day, it’s always because of a circumstance. Going to university, living on my own, getting drunk, getting a paycheck, wearing heels…that’s what makes me feel like an adult. But I still consider myself young and inexperienced and, like that of Eliza Schuyler, rather helpless. I’m wondering what event will change that and make me feel like a real adult for good and not for a moment.

Becoming an adult…

One of my best friends likes growing up. He likes the freedom and he likes doing adult things. He’s looking forward to the future. He said he doesn’t miss being a kid.

I do, though.

I miss not having to worry about grades because school was easy. I miss not having to worry about getting a job. I miss running around the neighbourhood. I miss the days where my life revolved around Pokémon and the biggest obstacle I’d have to overcome is being able to hold my breath underwater longer than my friends. I miss being able to have a water gun fight in my bathing suit and not feel self-conscious.

God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young – ‘Lost Stars’ from Begin Again

My childhood wasn’t anything special. I don’t have many exciting stories to tell or life-changing experiences that made me who I am. Like the rest of my life, average is the best word to describe it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.

I’m pretty glad I grew up in the era that I did. I’m a 90’s kid but considering I was born in 96, I don’t remember the 90’s at all. I grew up in an era where technology was not as important. Kids these days have iPhones in grade five and Instagram accounts at age seven. They dress like they’re eighteen and write like they’re four.

I’m not saying that kids today don’t have a childhood, I’m just saying that despite the pretty small age gap (of say, 8 years) our upbringings are pretty different.

I had a childhood. I tried to grow a popsicle tree more than once and I had drawing contests on the driveway with special rainbow chalk. But I also played on a Gameboy and had six Tamagotchis. I have memories that involve technology, but almost all the ones my brother and I sometimes reminisce about are us playing in the backyard. Our parents were adamant that we have very limited screen time and ample sun time. And while I despised them for that as a kid and even now I still slightly resent them, I do understand and can, to a logical degree, respect that choice. I kind of wish kids these days had the same limits. The Internet and videos games have a certain culture and a lot of it can be toxic, and when young kids are exposed to it, it changes them.

But it’s not just being a little kid that I miss. I also yearn to just be a teenager. Teenage things are so much more pleasant. Adult books and movies are all just so violent or boring. I come across boxes upon boxes of books at garage sales I go to and none of them catch my eye. I don’t want to read what adults read. I don’t want to watch what adults watch. I want to read books with dragons in them and watch shows about superheroes. Do you know what my mom watches? Homeland. Do you know what that show is about? American politics and terrorism. Lame. I can watch the news and get the same stories. I hate feeling like I’m somehow both immature and mature.

I’m 20 and what do I have? I’m halfway through a university degree and am already worrying about life after school… I have a few friends, some of whom didn’t remember my birthday (or didn’t care to say anything)…I have a driver’s licence but no car and nowhere to go…I have this blog which I love but some days isn’t as successful as I’d like it to be. I kind of feel like I’ve wasted chances in my younger years to advance my career or to make friends and I’m actually scared to know how hard that’ll hit me in years to come.

I know a lot of you reading this are older than me. You’re likely reading this and laughing because you’d give anything to be 20 again. You’re about to leave a comment telling me that the 20’s are the best years of my life, and to calm down and enjoy life while I’m young. I know that, I do. I think the 20’s are pivotal years as it’s when most get married and have kids and have careers, and I hope I am able to look forward to all that. But that seems like a lot of work and honestly, I’d much rather go play Grounders at the park.


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28 thoughts on “In Which I’m 20 Now And Somehow Miss Being Young

  1. I’m 52 years old and love it. There are things I know and understand now that I couldn’t even conceive in my 20s. And, as it turns out, my 50s are the best years of my life. :o) Happy Belated Birthday!

  2. Enjoy being the age you are by being the best version of yourself for almost all of the time. Even through your writing you exude a youthful vibe and that’s not a bad thing. There seem to be more pressures today on people of every age but especially our young adults. There seems to be an urgency to get a big-time degree from a prestigious school and all the while volunteer for the greater good, and get a decent part time job and then a really fabulous full-time one once you graduate. And your supposed to be fit, slim, and travelling the world and all of it needs to be chronicled on social media. That’s a lot. I understand yearning for the simplicity of a child’s life, but you can only do your best at the age you are, and put one foot in front of the other and forge ahead. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders and that should serve you well. Happy birthday!

    • This is all very true. There are a lot of pressures for people my age, but they’re all pretty legitimate. It is a competitive world!

  3. The Happiest of Birthday Wishes Don.

    May your 20’s be every bit as awesome as anyone elses!!

    Hope you had a good day!

  4. Happy Birthday Coolbeans4!

    I can relate. I’m 25 (about to be 26 next month), and I really do miss childhood. I look forward to what’s to come, but I am nostalgic for the way things were…

    And I still read YA… I’m pretty sure the only “Adult” books I’ve read (that weren’t assigned for school), were Silver Linings Playbook and Gone Girl… I mean, show me a good Adult book about being in a mental hospital. Is it possible? Probably. Is it as easy as going to the YA section of the bookstore and finding like seven really good books about being in a mental hospital? Nope. YA 4 lyf!

    However, I don’t think anyone who is an adult is truly an adult. I think we all fake it until we make it.

    • Thank you! I’m so glad others feel the way I do, especially in regards to YA. I don’t even read a lot of YA books as I find some of them just trashy (no offense!), but some are really good, and there’s a reason that some of the biggest book franchises are YA.

      I think you’re right. Even some of my friends who seem to have adulthood under control are probably just faking. Adulting is a farce. 😛

  5. Happy birthday!

    If you’re feeling too much like an adult, remember you still can’t buy alcohol yet, so you’re kind of young. I hope that, um, helps? 😉

    Seriously, though, I’m sorry that you’re stressing about things. The 20s really *were* the best years of my life (I’m 41 now), but there’s no way to be able to see it at the time. The only way to see it is in retrospect. People tried to tell me, but it did no good.

    At any rate, it’s partly the nostalgia-fueled memories that make being in one’s 20s seem wonderful (we forget the bad stuff and remember the good stuff), plus the wisdom that comes with maturity that gives a different perspective. When I was in my 20s, I was nervous about the future just like you. I wouldn’t want to go back to that. What I really want is to have all this knowledge that comes from being in my 40s, yet have the freedom that I did when I was in my 20s. But those two things simply can’t happen at the same time.

    So, in other words, when other people tell you “these are your best years” and when you say being a young adult isn’t all that fun, they’re right and you’re right at the same time. 🙂

    • Well actually, in Canada the drinking age is 19 so alcohol and I have been acquainted!
      I’m glad you found your 20’s enjoyable, and I hope I do too! Some days I just get caught up in the stress and then I end up immortalizing it via a blog post, but I’m very comforted by you and others who reassure me that I’m just being dramatic and that it isn’t all bad. Thank you!

  6. i totally am going through a similar state of mind. I turned nineteen on 5th and I really find myself mourning the loss of my childhood. Somedays I find myself searching ‘Noddy’ and ‘Bob the builder’ on youtube. Its kind of crazy how you can never go back to that time again. And I have yet to come to terms with my age.

    • I love watching old kids TV show theme songs on Youtube! I’ll come across shows I had long forgotten I ever watched! We can never go back physically but thanks to the internet we can go back mentally for even just a short time!

  7. I went through what I deemed a “quarter life crisis” when I turned 20. Don’t underestimate your feelings- it’s a huge time in your life! I’m 24 now and I still suffer from these feelings. I miss the simplicity of childhood- now every decision I make is an adult decision. Remember, though- you WILL figure it all out. You WILL be happy. Don’t let adulthood intimidate you- it will all come together. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I definitely think I’m going through a minor quarter life crisis but your confidence and support is really refreshing and helpful!

  8. Happy birthday. I don’t remember when I turned 20, but the more that I think about how my next birthday will be my 24th, I start to feel really old.

    I experience the same nostalgia-driven pain that you do. For me, the career has been the hardest part of my life. I can’t find a job I want to do. Nobody wants to hire me. I feel like I have no direction. What good is my degree if it can’t help me? Did I suffer four years of college and accumulate $30K+ of debt for nothing? And so on. You’re right in that it’s a lot of work. I find comfort in telling myself that it’ll all work out in the end.

    • I’ve been trying to keep calm too. It’s unfortunate that there’s so much pressure and competition for people in our age bracket to get a great job. But even 24 is young and you still have time to figure it out. We just gotta keep moving forward and doing our best. Thanks for your support!

  9. Just had to add: love what you said about YA fiction! There are so many great stories out there, unhampered by all the “adult fiction” expectations. I mean, I love reading books “for my age” but I’m only nearing 24, so I still consider myself a young adult in many ways! Actually, sometimes I’m still not sure how “grown up” I am 😛 Probably why I enjoy teaching elementary so much 🙂

    There’s nothing wrong about wanting to go back – I do too some 🙂 But then I remember how much freedom I also have as a…more grown-up person, and how much more I can appreciate that freedom, understand it, and then be completely unabashed in my intentional quest for creating/consuming/partaking in awesome stories. “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine.” This is on a sign in my family home, and it’s so true 🙂

    • I do like the freedom. My parents were fairly limiting and I do really like being able to watch as much TV as I want or having a can of pop without it being a ‘special occasion’. I think I need to appreciate that more.

  10. I love this post. I have been sitting in this same kind of place for the last 6 months or so since I turned 20 and I was feeling like a complete weirdo because my friends were all embracing “adulthood” and moving out and getting jobs and I am sitting here still wanting to wear a onesie and watch anime and read books that don’t “enlighten the reader about the marvels of subtlety and the significance altruism.” Or any of that nonsense. Happy belated birthday, and the offer still stands if you need a friend to talk to 😊😊

    • Embracing adulthood is for chumps.
      Apparently it’s perfectly normal for us to feel this way at this age so I guess we have to power through and live our life how we want!

      • Damn right!!! And we will have plenty of time for adult stuff. No need to want to move out and pay taxes and rent too early. And psychology says we are right where we should be, so that’s always nice.

  11. I’d love to be 20 again, just so I can go back to having a car and no licence (opposite of your situ) – but thanks to my Mum’s ex, I’ve never been able to go ahead with the licence because he took the car, so now I have neither, yay!

    Nah, in all seriousness, the only nostalgia I have sitting at 25 is with being 23 again. 23 pre-Masters was the last time I was healthy and content. I’ve spent the last 2 years recovering from what that degree did to me (alongside a few other things) and it’s only in the last few months anything has noticeably changed for the better. Right now, my well-being is so much more important than whether or not someone is doing something before me (and I’ll probably always feel like that). You’ll be fine 🙂

    Anyway, happy belated birthday! Always free for a pep-talk if you need it!

    • You’re right. I’m healthy and for the most part happy and school isn’t too stressful, so I should really take that into account.
      But I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. Hopefully it’s all uphill from here!

  12. Far, far too true. I’m twenty myself, been working for a few years already, and I’m facing the daunting realisation that this routine of life is going to continue until I’m 65 and retired.

    I miss when life was constantly changing, when everything was moving and so dynamic and exciting. I hated school when I was there but now I look back on it with such incredibly fond thoughts. What would I give to have just a day where my biggest worries were about some silly drama that would probably blow over in a day, or a teacher that was boring.

    Still, I think that no one can be happy with any point in their life that they’re currently experiencing. When you’re experiencing something, you tend to focus on the negative; but when you consider those things again later in retrospect, it’s only the positive memories that really stick, that you chose to remember.

    I don’t believe there’s one best time of our lives. Every second is special; you just probably won’t appreciate it all until the end – it’s just the way of life. All we can hope to do is make ourselves as proud as possible for the end when we can really look back, and hope we see that our lives were really filled with a lot of happiness throughout.

    • Very true, very true. You’re wise. I do wonder if I’ll miss school when I’m done with it, and I think I will, even though the thought of writing yet another essay is sickening.
      I aim to be as open and agreeable with life as you are!

  13. Oh my gosh, you basically described me in this post. I’m also 20 and halfway through a psych degree, and I really don’t know what I want to do after university. It’s kind of scary. I miss not having responsibilities or making big life decisions. I miss being a kid. Being a kid was so much fun, and innocent. Adults are so serious and boring. But I am one now, and can’t associate myself with teenagers. It’s a difficult age, and what you said “I hate feeling like I’m somehow both immature and mature” is so true. It’s how I feel all the time! Everyone expects us to act like adults and we can’t behave like kids anymore. It’s not fair!

    • Adults /are/ so boring! Sometimes we’ll drive by a house with some bright coloured door or something and my parents will think it’s tacky and silly while I think it’s fun and pretty! Since when does growing up mean disliking fun colours?
      If it makes you feel any better, it seems that a lot of us are in the same boat, so we can struggle and be sad together!

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