10 Going on 30

I turned twenty on November 14th, 2016. It was weird. Every day I was thinking, “one more week until I am no longer a teenager” or “three more days until I am a real adult.”

But then, when the day came, I felt the same.

This should not have been surprising, but I could not shake the feeling that I should have experienced a grand metamorphosis, shedding the hormonal teen years and entering my twenties as yet another confused college student. 

But then I realized: I had never been the typical teenager, so why should I expect to feel like a normal twenty-something?

Teenage girls are expected to be a dramatic, selfish rebels who spend too much time failing at Pinterest-inspired manicures. This is an extreme, to be sure, but still…

While my peers were dating around, I had a single boyfriend who loved Jesus and respected me. My only fights with my parents ended with me telling them that I loved them. I added straps to my senior prom dress while other girls seemed to be competing to see whose dress could cost the most money while using the least amount of fabric.

I broke curfews to study and was only told to turn my music down when I was practicing piano too intensely. While I was nominated for Homecoming court, I was happier serving as Orchestra President (or, as my mom called me, “Queen of the Nerds”). My best friends were theater geeks, music kids, and bookworms, but the cool crowd was so…ordinary.

When the time came to choose a college, I decided on a Christian school with a stellar conservatory and literature program instead of the big name universities that my teachers were pushing.

Of course, I do not mean to say that I did not face normal struggles as a teenager; I definitely did. As a perfectionist, I was always comparing myself to the girls I saw as prettier, my peers who had higher class rankings, and the choir-mates who could sing better. I fought an eating disorder for three years beginning when I was fifteen. I went through random mood swings and said things I wish I hadn’t.

The difference though, is that these trials did not define me. Faith, family, and friends helped me through the teenage tumult and kept me from becoming the self-centered rebel that I otherwise would have been; they supported me through my dangerous perfectionism and loved me for my quirkiness.

In short, while I always “marched to the beat of my own tuba” (as a Dove chocolate wrapper once said), my loving family, growing faith, and amazing friends made sure that I stayed that way.

As my twentieth birthday drew near, I did not have much time for reflection as I was busy leading a chapel at my college and performing in choir concerts. Later, though, I got the chance read through old journals, flip through Facebook albums, and talk to friends and myself (my roommate assured me that talking to oneself is a sign of creativity). As I did so, I realized; I was never really a teenager, so why would I be any different as a twenty-year-old?

I won’t lie; I love Taylor Swift’s song “22.” Maybe it’s just because I am two years younger, but I do not anticipate actually relating to the song’s lyrics. I don’t want to “fall in love with strangers” or “make fun of my exes.” (I will admit that “breakfast at midnight” sounds pretty great because, come on, who doesn’t love breakfast food?) But I guarantee I cannot make myself “forget about deadlines” and I need sleep way too much to stay out all night partying.

I know I probably sound like a grouch, but I just don’t like the idea of feeling “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” I know what I want to do as a career. I have amazing best friends who share my weirdness and a boyfriend who likes my determination. My faith keeps me strong when I am confused and my family is always there for me. Sure, I have moments of “I can’t do this” and “adulting is the literal worst,” but I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone and nothing compels me to fit the typical 20-year-old mold.

Though I am twenty and thus expected to be tired, broke, and confused (according to the Huffington Post), I refuse to act my age. I will go on working professionally as a pianist as I have since elementary school. I will keep writing poetry and short stories because even though I have to pay taxes and vote, I do not have to stop loving fantasy. I will watch Disney movies and sing along because being a grown-up does not mean I can’t have a sense of childlike wonder. I will chat with my mom about everything because she will always be my best friend, even though new people have come into my life.

When I turned sixteen, I wrote in my journal that I felt simultaneously older and younger than my peers. Now, at twenty, it is the same; I do not feel at all like the stereotypes say.I mean, come on, I play the pipe organ for traditional worship services, but also want to bury myself in a pile of stuffed animals. I am twenty, but feel more ten and thirty than their median.

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7 Steps to Overcoming a Haircut Crisis: by Rapunzel, Anne, Jo, and Me

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My face post-haircut. Goodbye braids..

“It looks so good!” gushes the stylist.

You nod vaguely, but inside you’re screaming, “Since when does ‘two inches’ mean ‘take it all’?”

You came in wanting a simple trim (freshen up the layers, cut the split-ends, the usual), but one ambitious beautician and several pairs of scissors later you’re sitting open-mouthed in a nest of your own hair.

I’ve been there.

We’ve all been there.

In fact, haircuts-gone-wrong are so common that some of the most beloved characters in fiction have also been there and can offer great advice for getting over the horror of your hair disaster. So here you go, 7 Steps to Overcoming Your Hair Crisis, brought to you by some of your favorite fictional ladies:

1. Recognize that your new ‘do is…unexpected. 

"I just wanted a trim!"

“I just wanted a trim!”

Especially if you’ve had the same hairstyle for a long time, change can be shocking and it’s perfectly normal to be startled. On the bright side, unlike Rapunzel, your hair probably did not turn brown and lose its power.

2. Cry a little if you want.

"I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair, but green is ten times worse!" - Anne Shirley

“I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair, but green is ten times worse!” – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

It’s okay to miss your hair; it was a part of you. And, like Anne Shirley, it’s okay to shed a few tears. After all, you were promised a “beautiful raven black” and given a sickly green; that is a serious disappointment!

3. Be prepared for others to notice the change.

"I walked in, asked if they bought hair, and what they would give for mine." - Little Women

“I walked in, asked if they bought hair, and what they would give for mine.” – Little Women

Even if you cut your hair for the best of reasons, people will notice the difference. Sometimes this is affirming, but other times…not so much. There will always be that one Theodore (“Laurie”) Laurence who sees your new cut and blurts out “You look a little like a porcupine, Jo, but l like it.” Learn to take these awkward acknowledgements as compliments; it will help ease the self-consciousness of having everyone commenting on your hair.

4. Accessorize and experiment!

Princess tiaras make the best accessories. :)

Princess tiaras make the best accessories. 🙂

Yeah, your new hair may not be your best look, but there is a whole world of accessories that can make it more, well, you! Rapunzel totally rocks her short hair with the crown adding some sparkle. (And no, her hair isn’t perfect just because she’s animated…it’s obviously due to the accessorizing.) If headbands and clips aren’t your thing, try other styles (straight, curly, braided, etc.).

5. Take advantage of this opportunity to reinvent your style.

Mrs. Harris: "Is that all your own hair?" Anne (laughing): "Every bit!"

Mrs. Harris: “Is that all your own hair?”
Anne (laughing): “Every bit!”

Green hair wasn’t ideal, but Anne used it as a chance to exchange her girlish braids for a sassy short cut and, later, sophisticated up-dos. Cutting her hair was a turning point in her life, marking the end of her rough childhood and the beginning of better years. Chopping off your hair probably won’t be as climactic as this, but it is still a chance for you to alter your style. Short cuts especially can look both hip and vintage if paired with the right outfit! (I speak from experience on that.)

6. Remember that it’ll grow back…unless you’re Rapunzel.

"And then I'll brush and brush and brush and brush my hair." -Rapunzel, Tangled

“And then I’ll brush and brush and brush and brush my hair.” -Rapunzel in Tangled

Unfortunately, Rapunzel’s hair did not grow back, but yours will! Brushing and brushing and brushing like Rapunzel might help it grow faster too. There are tons of ways to boost hair growth (try searching Pinterest!) but time is definitely the best remedy. Your hair will grow again and be as beautiful as ever. Meanwhile, Flynn Rider has a thing for brunettes and short-hair… 😉

7. Be confident.

"My head feels deliciously light and cool! ... soon I'll have a curly crop that will be boyish, becoming, and easy to keep in order!" - Jo March

“My head feels deliciously light and cool! … soon I’ll have a curly crop that will be boyish, becoming, and easy to keep in order!” – Jo March

Fake it ’til you make it applies to this situation; if you act like you are comfortable with your new haircut, others will accept it and you will get used to it. If Anne could make short hair look good even after dying it green, Jo could sell her hair despite it being her best feature, and Rapunzel could love her non-magical locks, then you can survive and rock this hair crisis. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new trend? After all, somebody somewhere was the first person to get a pixie cut and now they are everywhere!

I wasn't sure at first, but am starting to like my short hair! :) (On a separate note, I do not know how to take a good selfie...)

I wasn’t sure at first, but am starting to like my short hair! 🙂 (On a separate note, I do not know how to take a good selfie…)