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Twelve going on Twenty

Freya Buckley wanted to do ‘Twenty Notes on Turning Twenty’ but ran out of ideas.

  1. By the time you’re reading this I will have recently turned twenty years old. I’m excited to be twenty –it feels whole, a bit round, it feels like maybe I’m a bit of a grown up. Only a bit though. 
  2. I initially wanted to rank twenty pop culture references to being twenty until I actually thought about it and realised all I could come up with is the “You’re twenny?!” moment from Mamma Mia and the subsequent (too many) TikToks. However, I will still keep it as my second note, largely because I only found out it was from Mamma Mia last year so the novelty is still high for me, and it is really fun to shout “you’re twenny?!” at people.
  3. I found an article listing things turning twenty this year – unbelievably I wasn’t on it, but do you know what was?  A lot of the items on the list were quite niche and I had no idea of their significance. The article brought me to the realisation that finding out things that happened the year you were born is not as fun or exciting as you would think, because, you were a baby when they happened! You weren’t watching ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ at your local Vue, you were lying around doing absolutely nothing. I am the same age as the second ‘Lord of the Rings’ film; do with that what you will. 
  4. Mary Shelley was twenty when she published Frankenstein, which means she was younger than that when she wrote it. I can’t say I’ve got a great gothic novel in the works, but sometimes, after nights out, I write poems in my Notes app – which can be pretty scary to read if you care about grammar or spelling. 
  5. Another literary fact: Apparently Jane Austen was twenty when she started writing Pride and Prejudice. I like this fact because it makes me feel like turning twenty could prompt some incredible novel idea from me. Possible titles include: Nausea and Napping, Ginger and Gingerly (telling you you’re standing on my foot), Confident and Crying. 
  6. Seeing as my idea of ranking pop culture moments about turning twenty fell through, I thought instead for I might rank people who are twenty. Firstly, me: I am of course tempted to give myself 20/20, however I think growing older is about growth so I’m going to give myself 18/20 (the age I am in my head). 
  7. The internet tells me that Sadie Sink of ‘Stranger Things’ fame is twenty. I like her hair, she’s vegan like me and she has an alliterating name – a strong 17/20
  8. Grazia magazine says that the character Jack played by Leonardo DiCaprio is meant to be twenty. It’s been a long time since I watched Titanic and I always remember the side plots more than the main one, so a limp 9/20,as all I can remember is that silly “I’m the King of the world” line, which would never work in practice. 
  9. A person who used to be twenty is Emma Stone – she was twenty when she starred in her first film Superbad. It’s pretty bizarre to think in an alternate universe maybe I would be well-known for doing something really significant aged twenty rather than just living my little life and reading my books. Also yes, I think being in Superbad is significant; that part of the film with the fake ID was my dad’s ringtone for a bit and it was funny every time someone rang him and his phone shouted “You called yourself McLovin?!”. I’ll give it a 14/20, with points lost for a lack of Emma Stone in the film overall.
  10.  One of my lovely housemates has suggested that when you turn twenty you have to “mam yourself”. This observation has arisen from the fact that our house has been taken out by the sinus infection from hell this past week, and we’ve had to make ourselves all the cosy, what-your-mam-makes-for-you-when-you’re-ill meals for ourselves. I both love and hate the idea of “mam-ing yourself”, because on the one hand it’s nice that as we grow older we grow into people who can love and nurture ourselves, but equally my heart aches and I just want my mam here with me. 
  11. My eighteenth birthday was, like for many, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. For my nineteenth I had freshers flu, so I’ll gloss over that one. Being an October baby my birthday came at the strange bubble stage where you were allowed to go to college but couldn’t mingle with more than six people outside of it. As such I remember feeling a bit robbed of my first year of being an “adult” and wrote a little piece lamenting all the things I wanted to do once the lockdown was over. I think really this piece was a yearning for adult experiences. Reading it back, a lot of the declarations involved sitting in cafes for hours and dancing and drinking wine while cooking pasta and taking trains to various places (I watched a lot of British romcoms). While I’ve definitely done all of those things, as I enter my twentieth twirl around the sun I realise that none of these experiences make me a “grown up”. They do, however, make me feel free and happy. Here’s to turning twenty and feeling good. 
  12. I’ve always taken the attitude that “when this happens there will be a grand change”. I write resolutions every New Year’s; at the start of each season I make yoga videos with names like “Yoga for a new beginning in Spring”; and every birthday I think that this next year will be the best one yet. People give people who are always desperate for a big change a lot of grief – “live in the moment” they cry at us. But as I turn twenty I’m glad I always think the next year of my life is going to be the most amazing, most film-like, glorious year of my life because it means I never feel scared of what’s to come, and I spend the years so intent on them being the best that I glamorise every little moment. So yes, I think twenty might just be the best one yet.

Image Credit: Like_the_Grand_Canyon/ CC BY-NC 2.0 via flickr.

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