The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Diary of a 20-Year-Old Teenage Girl

art: abby wilson

I turned 20 this week. This is my sophomore year of college. That’s two more years until graduation, a year before I have to start applying for graduate school and four months until finals. All mere days since I said goodbye to my teenage years for good. Everything feels like a countdown to another large milestone. Life didn’t used to be like that. It didn’t feel like everything was leading up to something. It was just life.

Now that I’m in the “prime of my life,” I feel like I’m supposed to feel different. But I don’t. I just feel like the same teenage girl I was a week ago. For a long time, I thought as soon as I turned 20, I’d feel more mature. But the strange thing is, the older I get, the more I realize this is just not the case.

When you grow up, your interests change; you grow out of things. My favorite television shows have changed drastically over the years, but I think it’s important to know that, for the most part, I have never stopped loving them. In all honesty, every single thing you enjoy in your life has some sort of effect on you. My favorite singer growing up was Selena Gomez. To this day, I still love her. Loving Selena Gomez made me love other artists similar to her, and as I branched out over the years, I managed to stay close to my roots of loving pop music. The same is true for every genre; we trace our interests back to childhood. We were surrounded by it, and now it is a part of us, just as it was a part of those who introduced it to us. Life is like this.

The night before my 20th birthday, I found myself feeling oddly reminiscent, not even of my childhood but of my late teens. There are so many common “teenage” experiences that I never got to have. That realization hit me harder than anything else. I listened to classic teenage anthems and songs about being 19 to feel like I was having some sort of formal goodbye to my youth. I quickly went through classics like “Dear John” by Taylor Swift, “teenage dream” by Olivia Rodrigo, “Perfect Places” by Lorde, “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry, “Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry and “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus. For some reason, this one struck me a bit harder than the rest, and I ended up crying. Growing up can be an incredibly mournful experience. You start to notice your goodbyes feel a little bit more permanent. I’m still young, and I know that, but it’s scary to think about the loss that comes with growing up.

Something that I’ve been thinking about a lot is the way the media treats twenty-somethings. Over the last year or so, we’ve all heard the phrase “20-year-old teenage girl” thrown around on the internet. I, like most teenagers, laughed at this. I knew my interests weren’t going to magically go away as soon as the clock struck midnight on my birthday, but I also had hope that as I aged, I’d grow into the “adult” figure I knew I’d have to eventually become. Instead, it’s been a couple of days of my 20th year on this earth, and I still love all the same shows, movies, songs and artists that I have for years now.

The concept of the 20-year-old teenage girl is something much deeper than a way to justify the seemingly “childish” interests that stay within us as we age. Girlhood and the interests that come with it are looked down on by society. In a year of nostalgia and youthfulness prevailing, is it really that shocking to see twenty-somethings excited to attend events like Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” now that they can afford it? Is it really a surprise that young adults are captivated by television shows like “The Summer I Turned Pretty” that depict an over-glamorized teen experience?

I was a sophomore in high school when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. I went back to school in person at the end of my junior year and didn’t feel normal again until well into my senior year of high school. I was depressed, miserable, confused, angry, scared and more than anything, frustrated that this was happening at a time when I was supposed to be crossing milestones like getting my license and going to prom. When I graduated high school, I still felt incomplete.

I coped by finding ways to distract myself, and a lot of times I ended up relying on old interests and hobbies. I rewatched television shows that made middle school me feel alive. I listened to music that reminded me of a specific time, person or moment. I hyperfixated on things that made me feel like I was getting the perfect high school experience that I so desperately craved.

Olivia Rodrigo’s album “SOUR” provided comfort, as she was someone my age, experiencing things that I could understand. There’s something really special about finding an artist you can relate to, and for millions of girls my age, Rodrigo is that person. But, despite me being the same age as her, I quickly noticed that there were a lot of fans of the singer who were also in their 20s. This was jarring for me.

At that point, I was 18 and headed toward my high school graduation. My perception of age and society led me to believe that these women were supposed to be preparing for marriage. Graduate college at 22. Get married at 25. Have a child at 26, and life goes on the way that every young person pictures “the American Dream.” To see people who were college graduates, fully-grown adults, buying tickets to a concert for a teenage girl singing about heartbreak and not feeling good enough was astounding to me.

The final song I listened to as the countdown to my birthday came to an end was Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up.” I was mournful, in a self-pitying mood and admittedly scared of the implications that being 20 held in my mind. However, I quickly realized that there was no reason to be wallowing around when I could be celebrating. So I pressed play on Sabrina Carpenter’s “Pushing 20,” and I got ready to celebrate the year ahead, as well as all the years that I’ve left behind.

Two years after graduating high school, I realized that I am 20 years old, and I am getting ready to buy tickets to Rodrigo’s “GUTS” tour. The theme of the album is more mature but still full of angst. Rodrigo’s music has aged with her, which means it has also aged with me. I’ve accepted that interests don’t just leave with age, and I’ve accepted that it’s okay to not have it all figured out. So happy birthday to me, and here’s to 20-year-old teenage girls everywhere.

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Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine. 

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