almost 20

As the new year hits, I’m realizing that I’ll be 20 soon. Where did all the time go? It feels like yesterday that I was on a grade 6 band trip, wearing my first ever pair of heels and dancing on the bus with my fellow gap-toothed classmates, my flute forgotten in the corner. Do I even know how to play the flute anymore?

Now that I’m almost 20, my family’s perception of my perpetually single status has changed dramatically. In high school, any mention of a boy would receive eyebrow raised and a slight frown. Now, not a phone call home goes by without casual questions about if there are any guys that have “caught my eye”. I feel like a can of food they suddenly found expiring on a back shelf and are now determined to do something with. It doesn’t help that my Mom is also fond of using the “girls have an expiration date” analogy. She seems pretty adamant that my choices are to either find a boyfriend immediately or be an old maid forever.

Almost 20 year-old me has started worrying about other things too. Are the people I’m surrounding myself with now going to be lifelong friends who will end up having a profound impact on my life? Will I ever learn to cook properly? Shouldn’t I have most of this figured out by now?

I’m glad I at least picked a career path with immediate job prospects. Seeing my friends struggling over medical and law school prep is a constant reminder that the path I chose was definitely not the most difficult. It eases my mind knowing I’ll have a solid job to fall back on no matter what. One part of my life that’s neat and orderly. Now to just clean up the gazillion other pieces.

In 6 months and 20 days I will officially have left my teenage years behind. If two decades passed by this fast, how long will it be before I reach 30? 40? What will my life be like then? I feel as if so far, I’ve played a mostly passive role in my own life… I’ve waited around for others to act, and just rolled with the punches. I went to the schools my parents suggested, took the tests they wanted me to take, led the clubs others thought I should lead, applied to jobs everyone thought I should want. So far it’s turned out all right, but what happens when there’s no longer anyone to make the decision for me? I can see it happening already – my parents are slowly backing away from major decisions (except to firmly tell me there’s no way I could ever make it in investment banking… thanks for the vote of confidence Dad), my classmates are all going down unique paths that would be impossible to emulate, my friends can no longer answer my increasingly desperate questions with simple binary answers. At some point I have to turn from someone that’s been learning to someone that’s providing the information. And that scares the shit out of me.

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