I’ve been thinking recently about what to write for my upcoming 20th birthday. Last year, when I turned 19, I wrote a list of 19 things I’d learned in my life so far. It was one of my favourite posts to write, and I’ve gone back to reread it often throughout the year. That being said, having already written 19 things I’ve learned in my life, I didn’t want to write about 20 more things I’ve learned for my birthday this year.
So I thought about other things to write about and then, as I was browsing Pinterest I found a quote that I think sums up what I wanted to say about turning 20. The quote, from author Victoria Erickson, says, “I love getting older. My understanding deepens. I can see what connects. I can weave stories of experience and apply them. I can integrate the lessons. Things simply become more and more fascinating. Beauty reveals itself in thousands of forms.”
As you’ll know if you read through some of my other recent blog posts, I’m a very optimistic person. I practice gratitude, I look at my life with a positive perspective and I see the best in people and situations. That’s why Erickson’s quote initially caught my eye—the words “I love getting older” are ones I feel like you don’t hear a lot, and yet they’re so simple and positive.
It might seem silly for me to write about “getting older” because, in the grand scheme of things, I’m turning 20. I know I’m still very young. Yet as I’ve thought about my upcoming birthday, I’ve felt some apprehension mixed in with the excitement. On one hand—I’m 20! I will no longer be at an age with the word “teen” following it. But on the other hand… I’m 20?
I remember when I was 12, I didn’t want to turn 13 (as if I had a choice in the matter) because I dreaded being associated with all of the negative teenage stereotypes I knew lurked in some people’s minds. I didn’t want people to assume I was lazy, or rude, just because I was a “teenager.”
Now, as I turn 20, I feel a bit like a snake, shedding this part of who I am.
Interestingly enough, I ended up embracing the label of being a “teenager” through my writing. I was 15 when I started my blog, and 16 when I began writing for the Huffington Post’s “Teen” column. Oftentimes when people were talking to me about my writing, they’d say that it was unique that a teenager cared so much about issues in the world.
But I knew I was far from the only teenager who cared about the issues I wrote about. So I set out to find other young bloggers, and, with a blogger friend, ended up creating a blogging challenge for a group of around 100 teen bloggers from all over the world. Suddenly, being a “teenager” wasn’t so bad—it was part of my identity as a blogger and writer.
Now, as I turn 20, I feel a bit like a snake, shedding this part of who I am. I’m no longer a teenage blogger; I’m just a blogger. I’m no longer a teenager who cares about politics and has opinions about the world; I’m just, well, an adult.
I can continue being fascinated with the world and the beauty that surrounds me.
So I come back to Erickson’s quote. I guess I do love getting older (and, again, if I don’t have a choice in the matter, I might as well embrace my optimistic tendencies and choose to enjoy it). I can look at my life so far with a bird’s eye view and, as Erickson says, connect the dots of the lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had.
I can gain a deeper understanding of myself, others and the world around me. I can continue learning and continue growing. I can continue being fascinated with the world and the beauty that surrounds me. When I think of growing older in this sense, it doesn’t sound scary in the slightest. In fact, it sounds like an adventure—one that I can’t wait to jump into.