Is 20 years old, old?
I am approaching my 20th year on this here planet and I have got to thinking – is 20 old, or young?
Reaching your second decade means you are no longer a teenager. But what does that actually mean? Does it mean you must leave the land of youth and frivolity, depart with silly decisions and “it seemed like a good idea at the time” moments? Are these things which should be left behind, remnants of a carefree past and a life lead with empty-headed trust in the sureness of your own future, to be replaced with the trudging tread of maturity?
In today’s society there is the argument that “children” stop being children much earlier than before. When once someone might be considered a child right up to their late teens, we are seeing 13 and 14 year olds parading about like their elder peers, in a way I certainly wouldn’t have had to the nerve to at that age. Even now, as I prepare to leave my adolescence behind, I still often feel like half my actual age!
So is it a generation thing or a personal state of mind? Scottish Parliament passed a bill just a couple of days ago to give 16 year olds the vote. Now, at just 16, we can vote, get married, smoke, enlist in the armed forces. By 18 we can drive and drink too (preferably not at the same time), so where, then, do we draw the line under childhood?
My friend today turns 20, but I doubt he woke up this morning thinking, right, time to dig out the tie and get in the sensible car to join the production line heading to the 9-5 office job. He will have woken up thinking yas, party time! Just because we are older does not necessarily mean we are any wiser, nor that we have to give up our childhood hopes and dreams. But it does make me wonder if, or when, we should.
When I finally abdicate me teenage throne, I hope I ascend to a similarly intriguing adult one. And I hope too that I feel mature enough to hold it’s mantle. This past year has aged me past my 19 years in many ways, and made me appreciate my youth. It always irked me when people older than me said “savour your youth, your only young once!” Now I realise, they are right. But you are only old once too. Immaturity is the blissful ignorance of adulthood, and adulthood the learned weariness of experience. To alleviate some of that languor, perhaps we should remember what it is to be young again?
Take a leaf out of that lazily filled in diary from your youth and add it to your senior memoir.