It’s been two weeks since I turned nineteen and maybe I’m finally getting used to this whole “just another year older” type of thing.
When I was younger, I used to get so excited for my birthday, counting down the days and planning birthday parties and lots fun things to do. Also, I anticipated a new mindset every year. Being seventeen just wasn’t the same as sixteen, or fifteen, and so on.
Now, each day that goes by cuts my last year of officially being a “teen” a little shorter, when all I really want to do is thoroughly feel my age. It hasn’t hit me much yet, and maybe the realization will come later, like some type of dye that needs to fully sink it before it begins to show and become apparent.
It’s so hard to feel young and reckless when I’m at an age that is so crucial to my twenties, then my thirties, then the rest of my life. How can I possibly seize the day and truly hold a firm grasp of it when the possibility of failure can ultimately affect the years to come?
I just want to reflect back on my life when I’m 49, going on 50, and save myself from a midlife crisis by truly feeling like I maximized the freedom of my youth, not continuously stressed about the outcome of a still verdictless life.
All of the movies and TV shows that I used to love, like Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars, revolve around the stereotypical lives of high schoolers. I’m past that age group, and now, I’m closer to being married than to starting my period.
I’m almost twenty now. Two decades gone. I know now that I’ll never be a ballerina – not because of any conscious choice, or because of anything I’ve done, or what I haven’t done, but because of what’s been neglected.
I never truly longed to be a ballerina but it’s the knowledge that scares me, that there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I’m too old to be a musical prodigy or to compete in chess tournaments around the world. Now, I’m closer to Ophelia than Juliet, and the word ‘woman’ makes me feel kind of uncomfortable.
I used to have big plans. I would become a famous pop star, while maybe a politician on the side. I would write my own songs and dance around massive stages wearing costumes oozing of glitter and tulle, while writing a life column for the liberally biased New York Times. I would marry and have two children in a home we designed ourselves.
When I was older, but not too long ago actually, the visions that I held close were those of good works. I saw myself saving African villages and protecting South American rain forests while healing the sick, with almost an obsessive selflessness.
I see now – that was just as selfish, in the end, as my initial plans of stardom.
I have a much simpler goal now – I want to be happy. I want comfort, nice clothes, a nice home, good food, good music, and knowing that I’m doing little things that matter.
Maybe, coming to this realization is the mindset of being nineteen - just wanting to be happy and contented, as opposed to being confused and depressed and full of teenage angst.
Maybe I have reached the point in my life when I don’t really fuck around with unimportant things anymore, like planning outfits or having meaningless crushes.
I’d like to think that I have.
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