I don’t know why turning twenty is something that is daunting to me. In reality, it’s just like any other birthday — you age one year, you have some cake, and you spend time with the special people in your life. But this one feels different, kind of like how turning 10 felt like such a big deal when we were 9. New decade, double digits, maybe a faster bike or better toys.
But 20, for some reason, feels like an even bigger deal than that.
While the fact that it marks a new decade is the same, the possibilities of this decade feel different. There are just so many doors, and behind each door, still so many paths that one can take. To make it even more intimidating, the stakes seem higher because we’re talking about big life stuff — finding the person you’re going to marry, landing that job that’ll put you on a specific career trajectory that you’re going to follow for the rest of your life, managing your finances and not having your mom do your taxes for you (finally).
It all seems bigger, a little scarier.
I recently read What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 by Tina Seelig (My bosses actually bought this for me, I wasn’t just having some sort of quarter-life crisis). Perhaps my favourite line in the book was “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, and you won’t get a second chance to do your best.” This is why Tina’s motto is “Never miss an opportunity to be fabulous.”
And this is exactly why I feel like 20 is so daunting, to me at least. I know the cliche thing that people say when they turn 20 is that they feel as if they have to have their whole life figured out by then. I don’t believe that; I genuinely believe that for our whole lives, we’re going to be feeling things as we go. Nobody is going to know everything, and if they say they do, they are probably very close-minded. I also don’t believe that our entire life course has to be charted by the time we are in our early 20s; I’m a believer in the fact that sometimes, the best surprises appear on the uncharted territories and when you wander off the beaten path.
So those two things aren’t it. Where I do feel the pressure is feeling that I have to do SO much in these next 10 years. I have to have a Carpe Diem attitude for absolutely everything so that I don’t miss any opportunities that come by me. Suddenly, I am feeling the need to be adopting the mentality of “Okay, now it’s time to buckle down, no more wasting time” every second of my life. I can’t miss any of these opportunities because what if they were just once-in-a-lifetime? What if my 20s were the best time to go for them? What if not going for them ends up having major repercussions for the rest of my life?
There are so many doors; I feel like I have to open them, at least to see what may lie behind them. There are so many big possibilities in these next 10 years, and I just want to make the most of that time. I want to walk away from it with stories to tell and lessons learned, and my biggest fear is feeling as if I could have done more by the time the next decade rolls around.
More people, more relationships, more stories. More lessons, more mistakes, more tears, more peaks.
I don’t want to miss out on any of it. I do not want these next 10 years to go by so fast to the point where I’m looking back asking myself, “So where did that time go?”
So with this turning of a new decade — the big 2 0 — and with the stretch of a blank slate that is 10 years of my life lying before me, there is one thing that I want to remind myself, and this (I think) was also taken from Tina Seelig’s book: Give yourself permission.
Give yourself permission to open that door and to create that opportunity for yourself if need be; nobody is going to hand it to you. Give yourself permission to speak up and voice your opinion. Give yourself permission to learn, experiment, fail, grow. I think with all that goes on in this decade, you really can’t be waiting around for people to hand things (verbal permission included) to you because sometimes, that could mean you’d be waiting a very long time.
Give yourself permission to do what you want to do, because at least for me, I already know that the list is only going to grow and I definitely do not want these next 10 years to go by and still have so much of the list unchecked.