Musings of a 21-year-old

That’s right, I made it to 21 without any unwanted pregnancies, flunking out of school, or giving up on everything and becoming a full-time dog walker (though let’s be honest, the latter is something I’d be very happy to do).

21 has always been a big milestone for me. It seems the big ones in my mind were always the ones that are featured a lot on TV or have a lot of meaning attached to them, such as Sweet Sixteen in America. I thought when I reached 18, the legal drinking age in the UK, that would be the moment I became a ‘proper adult’. When I turned 18, I realised that was a load of bollocks and looked forward to not being a teenager anymore, whilst at the same time being absolutely terrified that I wouldn’t be a teen anymore.

So 21 was the age I had in my mind. Me turning 21 would mean that I would have finished university. Turning 21 would (hopefully) mean that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. 21 was going to be the new me, the adult me, the improved me, the me that has her shit together and goals written down on a checklist that I would tick off each day.

Well, in all honesty past-me and readers of this blog, 21 pretty much feels like 20. That’s the problem with birthdays; you big them up so much, have a countdown until the day whilst your excitement grows and grows like some great fire, only to be snuffed out on the anti-climatic day when you look in the mirror and think: I look no different than yesterday. Because your birthday is not the day that everything clicks into place. It is not the day where you feel like an adult or the day that your goals are all met or that you feel so much older than you did the year before. Those things happen in the in-between. I didn’t get more confident when I hit 20; it happened somewhere between my milestones of 18 and 20 without realising. I didn’t figure out what I wanted from life as soon as I turned 21, and I doubt I’ll fully know what I want from life if I just muse about it to a computer screen.

Birthdays in general make me muse more than often, and I wonder if it’s due to the fact that, as the years go on, events like birthdays, easter, christmas and other celebrations slowly start to lose their magic. All through childhood I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before Christmas, or my birthday, imagining all the fantastic and wonderful things that were a few mere hours away. The next year is exciting and filled with the unknown, which only made it more exciting. Yes, the next year is still filled with the unknown, but it’s about as exciting as it is terrifying.

Still, I’ve made it this far – which in retrospect, isn’t even that far at all – so I might as well keep going and hope that, along the way, I live my life the way I want to. You’ll hear about, regardless.

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On Turning 20

Whenever someone has a birthday, we always ask ‘do you feel any different?’ even though almost every single time we know their response will be ‘no’. I turned 20 this week, and still I’m waiting for some kind of knowledge or wisdom or somethiing to suddenly snap into place as if reaching that age is like unlocking a level, the reward some sort of ‘welcome to adulthood’ package which includes the skill to change tires, pay taxes, knowledge on the economic markets, and the ability to talk about politics in every conversation.

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So it’s not the day of your birth, the day you turn 18 or 20 or 30 or 100 that everything clicks in. It’s the years of mistakes and successes and pain and happiness that you actually learn. Which, really, is more difficult to digest. We say ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’, not because you’ll be a different age but because the experiences you’ve had and been through teach you. Those disney movies which nice messages may set a foundation, but it’s only through your own trials and tribulations that you actually figure things out on your own.

But it’s hard, learning things, because you start to form opinions and, as it seems, not everyone learns or thinks the same things. So it’s worse, when tragedies such as those that have happened all over the world in the past few days, that people never seem to be able to agree on what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

Christina Grimmie’s death felt personal to me, as I remember watching her Youtube videos when I was younger. One in particular, her cover of ‘Titanium‘ by David guetta ft.Sia, was one that I obsessed over. I remember listening to it over and over again, trying to sing along but really just appreciating how wonderful I thought Christina’s voice was. Through her I discovered new artists and new songs and a better appreciation of music, especially in the Youtube community. So it felt worse, to go through the comment section on her videos – although comment sections are always dangerous – when people were justifying the thing that killed her. Saying that it wouldn’t have happened if she’d been armed and able to defend herself. It felt worse, because I wanted to scream my opinion at everyone that clearly something is disgustingly wrong in the world if we’re standing up for a weapon, where maybe if we just made access to that weapon much harder could have prevented it. It’s hard, because now I’m older, and I think I know what is right. But other people think they’re right, and why should they think we know better? Why should we think that we know better?

Then the tragedy in the Orlando club shooting, and although there were tributes and devastation, the debates erupted. Was it a terrorist attack? An attack on the LGBTQ+ community? Both? Then it turns back to gun control, and everyone arguing and calling each other names – and they start to forget, that in all the arguing and debating, lives have been lost. And it hurts to think about these things. It hurts to feel like you’re older and feel like you should know what to do and feel that maybe you’re powerless and you want to just leave it to someone else who knows what they’re doing to just stop it.

Back to Youtube, one particular video on the shooting got to me (see it here) and, once again, I felt the need to go into the comment section – only to see the same as before. Yet it was made worse by people targeting the person in the video. She’s crying, which makes her argument invalid. She’s an emotional woman, out of control. She’s faking her tears to make people agree with her. Again and again, it seemed like no one else was thinking the same as me. Have they not learned through their years? Have they not started to form the same thoughts as me? Can’t they see her obvious devastation and her plea for action? How can you get angry that she cries? She’s showing emotion, so bloody what?

There’s so much I could say on the subject. Maybe in several years I’ll change my tune, but for now all I can think is that getting older is hard because you have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone gets along. Not everyone thinks the same as you. It doesn’t get easier.

And so I enter my twenties, bracing for what’s going to happen next. My love goes out to everyone affected and hurt by the latest tragedies, and I hope that maybe, one day, we’ll be able to say that the future is brighter.