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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Perspective: Growing older doesn’t mean growing up

In July, I will turn 19. As the date approaches, I have a sense of loathing. Not about turning 19, but the prospect of reaching the cusp of my 20s. It’s my final year as a teenager — a time of using my favorite excuse of “I’m just a teen” as justification for every mishap and mistake. But I still feel like a kid. As I look toward the years of marriage, jobs and down payments, I’ve realized that we don’t ever truly grow up.

When I returned home for the summer, I was suddenly surrounded by tastes of childhood and nostalgia. I felt each chapter of my life while sitting in my childhood home — adolescence, the tweens and of course, the crazed teen years. Yet, I’m now inescapably and undeniably an adult.

This introspection sent me into a spiral as I reflected on what the next decade of my life would bring and leave behind. As 19-year-olds, we still qualify as teenagers. As 20-year-olds, it seems like the world shifts to strict autonomy. In just one day, it feels like a plethora of decisions fall on our shoulders.

Surrounded by the array of swim team medals, pictures of my oldest friends and my once-prized Junie B. Jones books decorating my bedroom, I feel more like a kid than ever. I see the same room where I once played dress-up as a doctor or teacher, but now I’m studying to become one of those once make-believe characters. I can no longer play pretend. We are now in control of fulfilling those dreams — perhaps that responsibility is what makes growing up so scary.

Now, my earliest problems seem so distant and trivial. I spent years in high school worrying about how finishing two-page research papers and how my thighs looked in my homecoming dress. But I also miss the moments of comfort that came with the stressful time. My mom would always be there to remind me that my body was perfect the way it is, and even loaned me a shirt that I always eyed to wear to a school event.

In our 20s, we lose some things, but we gain some things too. The loss is a comfortable drift and discovery. I thought housing leases and 401(k) plans were the scariest aspect of adulthood, but it’s the feeling of being on your own that is so frightening without someone to hold your hand along the way.

The 20s will bring more moves away from home, job choices and, scariest yet, building good credit. But I still can’t push myself to walk into a dark basement alone, decide on a major or keep myself from blowing a paycheck in one go.

So who needs the terrible twos, when we have the terrifying twenties?

As 10-year-olds, we look forward to turning 13 and finally being a teenager. At 13, we dream of 16 to get our license and have independence. From there, we await adulthood and look forward to embarking on our lives. But at 18, life seems to take a pause, with more daunting experiences than exciting ones ahead of me. My friends may start to get married and even have kids. It’s a frightening thought to believe that 10 years from now, I may have another human to take care of when I can barely take care of myself.

I look forward to pursuing my passions and building a career, but long for the same feeling of freedom as I did in my childhood. The divide between our teens and 20 feels like a jump from a free-spirited life to a 10-year plan. While we may be moving on from our teenage freedoms, our experiences stay with us as residual memories. Nostalgia pushes us to work towards our goals and helps us continue our self-narrative. Perhaps holding on to your childhood stuffed-animals shouldn’t be so embarrassing after all.

So I really do believe that we don’t ever truly grow up. We have to come to grips with the fact that we are now in control of what lies ahead. We cannot drift into the 20s— we must propel ourselves. We carry our lessons from our youthful years and learn from unfortunate fashion trends, our high school teachers’ advice and our problematic friendship choices to adapt to our future lives.

I am still slightly afraid of the dark, refuse to parallel park and I’ll never, ever, turn down a ring-pop. We never stop being who we are, but we have control over who we become. It turns out that it is not likely to be my plan as a ballerina-tug-boat-captain-veterinarian. However, I do plan to dance a lot, travel a lot and maybe even adopt a mutt.

Madie Turley, a rising sophomore, is the contributing opinions editor.

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