20… Just Another Number

IMG_3746No one warns you about the fear of turning 20 until the time comes. It’s the moment where you start panicking, and begin to think about all the things you have to do before that D-Day. It is, after all, like entering a new decade, a new era. Is it normal for me not to remember my 10th birthday? Will the memory of my 20th be the same in ten years from now? I hope not…

Since my youngest age, my favorite day was the one of my birthday (It still is, in case anyone was wondering). I could say that every year, in which I furthered my steps into adulthood, my responsibilities outgrew me, as well as the many privileges I had been granted on and on (like driving, clubbing…).

This is where the big Twenty takes part in the game (yes, sometimes I’d like to consider my life as a game made of different levels, completing one every year). A magical number that sends us back to the words “Maturity”, “Prudence” and “Independence”. But what does turning 20 really mean? I have been asking myself this particular question since the day I woke up on 20th birthday.

A couple of days before aging for another year, I have been taken by a wave of panic… Me 20? I didn’t know how to drive a car or how to cook (and still don’t), or even how to raise a child. Heck, I don’t even know which products to use for cleaning! I wasn’t ready to be a “Responsible Young Adult”. Was I meant to know all that before turning 20? Earlier that week, my grandmother couldn’t restrain herself from giving me this long–usual–cliché speech about how responsible I should become now that I’m turning 20, that I shouldn’t act childish anymore, that I should start taking into account others before myself, that I should learn how to take care of the house, that I should wake up early and be productive…. Even though I have a very Old-School grandmother, for once, she managed to freak me out, and that wasn’t helping… at all! And that made me think about Charles Malik and his view about life as a struggle. I am actually living a struggle, because I chose not to learn how to drive a car or to cook or to raise a child. I’ve made a decision and put an end to all the other options. These choices make me anxious especially after my grandmother’s advice.

As of today, I officially turned 20 about a week ago. I can promise you that my lifestyle hasn’t changed…not one bit. I am still unable to wake up in the morning, and like most teenagers, like to spend most of my time on Facebook, Instagram, or at the movies. I am still a university student, still not ready to get married and most importantly still not ready to raise a child.

For those of you that are still in their teenage years, there is no point in me telling you not to freak out, because I’m sure you will anyway. But don’t worry, the second you’ll think that life will become different, everything will fall back into place and go back to the usual routine you’ve adopted since… forever! Because at the end of the day it’s not a specific date that determines when and how you grow, it is your actions and responses to the challenges you face.

Stephanie Herrington is a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East.