Getting older is weird. It’s something, as a little kid, you long for. There were all these hopes and expectations that were connected with getting older. The opportunities that will suddenly be open to you. The adventures that you can suddenly embark on. The lives you’ll lead, as soon as you get to some age, some point in your life that is just beyond your reach.
I remember, for me, it was turning 16. In all those make-believe games we would play in the school playground, I always wanted to pretend I was 16. I thought it was this magical age where everything in life would speed up, where life would start happening to you. Really, nothing happened to me when I was 16. I think we just went to Benihana for my birthday.
It’s scary, getting older. Especially during these university years where every passing birthday signals another step towards impending adulthood. While questions of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ have plagued us throughout our lives, as we grow older, this round of questioning grows more intense and more serious.
Our summers are no longer designed to be carefree. We now have to be taking up internships, work experiences, placements, jobs to signal to those around us that we’ll be okay, we’re being proactive and don’t worry, we have a plan.
These years, the last of our teenage existence and the start of our twenties, is one where feeling lost is the norm. It’s a point where our age is no longer an excuse. We now have to be taking ourselves seriously so that others will repay that respect in return. This inbetween stage is one where we are considered old enough to have an opinion, but are simultaneously considered too young to express an opinion with any confidence or sense of actually being informed.
For the last few birthdays, I’ve had some major freakouts. Like, sure, 18 was fun. But, wow, that’s old. And then 19, that’s really old. And then 20, that’s a whole two decades! It scared me to think that when leaving home for university, I would never properly live at home again. You come home during the holidays but after graduation, you’re expected to get on with your life. No more living at home with your parents, get on up and get on out there.
So many of us are lost when it comes to our future. So many of us don’t feel confident enough in our abilities to believe we could exist in that bad scary world of adulthood. It’s not about being coddled, or helicopter parenting, or being snowflakes or whatever nonsense excuse older generations may pin on us. Sure, there’s excitement. But growing older is scary, especially during these final years of education as we wait for our lives to get going. Waiting to see if it pans out, if we actually end up alright.
There is no magical age. There is no point in our lives where everything gets straightened out and all the mysteries of the universe are revealed to us. We are meant to feel lost. We are meant to feel fearful about the uncertain. It may not make any of this easier but it’s better to know you’re not the only one. I’m fucking terrified about getting older and about the future, and I doubt I’m the only one.