Being a teenager encompasses a whirlwind of emotion and experiences. Seventeen comes, and everyone adores seventeen. Eighteen rounds the corner the way the hour hand of a clock turns when you’re having fun – quickly and unwanted. It’s staged as an exciting age. Voting, cigarettes, a heady combination of responsibility and danger.
The utmost privilege of citizenship is granted with an apprehensive warning of being legally competent enough to be sent to a federal prison. It’s as if responsibility and danger are cast as a decrepit lifeboat, tauntingly inviting you to sink or swim in the ocean of adulthood.
Nineteen. A different type of feeling, maybe even evoking the word old to mind. It’s the borderline cusp of still identifying as a teenager but being held responsible as an adult. It’s where that realization of responsibility tends to hit because nineteen is the segue to twenty.
Twenty is the precarious and curious age that marks a new decade.
No longer a teen in any way, shape, or form, twenty emanates an unfamiliar feeling. It’s hyped up, cast down, over-played, and over-looked. There are varying opinions on the importance of this age, some regarding it as an early onset of adulthood while some proclaim it’s a second coming of adolescence.
For others, this decade of life is the start of a new beginning.
The transition to your twenties is seen as an emblem of youth, the epitome of a young adult’s bloom. For a young woman, this signifying time of adulthood can be monumental.
For one thing, it’s when physical appearance starts showing its true disposition, molding bodies into flourishing external beings. Features begin to set in place, and figures become more pronounced. A young woman more or less experiments with her sense of outward appearance and projection of self to the world – the pattern of hair she adopts, styling of clothing, or placements of piercings and tattoos.
The twenties is a time of exploration, none more more so than that of burgeoning sexuality, delving into one’s own personal and sexual identity.
Adolescence comes with boundaries, often parental, that can subconsciously limit the scope of emotional and sexual desire.
Young adulthood in this sense is liberating and grants freedom to explore and reflect on the inner workings of the mind. Finding interests that please and excite all senses of the self can be one of the most exhilarating experiences in life and one of the most rewarding.
The early twenties are also a time of self-identifying, and aligning with communities.
Whether they are ethnic, activist/social justice oriented, or groups based off of commonly enjoyed activities, it’s a time for discovery of interests. Being in a new environment and being surrounded by disparate individuals can elicit a different type of understanding about passions versus differences, or even viewpoints about personal beliefs such as religion and politics. Building a sense of personality, comprised of these likes and dislikes, is undoubtedly crucial to the formation of a self, both now and later in life.
In this way your twenties come to be marked with a sort of awakening that lends itself to the ideals of freedom and exploration.
It’s ironic that coming of age is primarily associated with being a teenager because in retrospect, young adulthood brings us in tune with our inner selves.
That being said, the twenties get painted in a light of possible firsts – first sexual encounters, lifelong friends, breakups, careers, your first legal drink – but that’s all they are, possible. It doesn’t mean that these experiences or particular ideals are set in stone for a given time frame. The twenties can be as defining as they are tangential and at times altogether discarded. Taking your experiences and embodying memories and lessons learned is what truly counts.
Exploration and new found appreciation for yourself can come at any point in life whether that is in adolescence or late adulthood. As someone who has once feared leaving behind that precious attachment of “teen,” I’ve come to embrace my twenties and look forward to later years; the potential within this pivotal decade holds so much for everyone.