I turned 20. Now I feel old.


Alissa Van Dress

Campus Editor Alissa Van Dress tackles her first column to discuss her “turning twenty” troubles.

Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor

When people guess my birthday, they sometimes forget to use the knuckle rule—the trick we learned in elementary school. Called the knuckle mnemonic device, the knuckle represents months with 31 days and the divot in between each knuckle represents the months with 30 days.
Here is how the conversation usually goes:

“When is your birthday?”
“The last day of April!”
“Oh, so your birthday is on April 31st!”

Believe it or not, I don’t intend to trick people. I say that my birthday is on the last day of April to help people remember, although it doesn’t seem to be effective since people tend to forget that April ends in 30 days. Regardless, I am living proof that April 30th is indeed the last day of the month. If it wasn’t for that day, I simply wouldn’t be me.

This April 30th, I turned 20 and waved goodbye to my teenage years. As a young teen, I remember wishing to be in my twenties and thinking that teenage years were a waste of time. What a teenage mentality to begin with.

But, now that I’m freshly 20, I’ve been inspecting my face and head looking to spot the first wrinkle and gray hair. I catch myself staring at pictures from merely two or three years ago and thinking, “wow I looked young.” Then again, some days I look at my high school self and think that I look the same as I do now. I feel as though I have experienced a mini midlife crisis, though I am not even midway through my expected lifetime.

I know it sounds criminal to believe that I am “old.” I can’t tell if I feel old or if it’s just my imagination. The time when I really started to feel “old” was when someone mistakenly thought that I was already in my mid 20s. “You carry yourself very well,” a family friend said. While a flattering comment, it didn’t help my uneasiness since this was said on an already sensitive day: my 20th birthday.

All jokes aside, I am thrilled to be 20. I was always excited for this decade and, while I started to feel cold feet about turning 20, I believe that the twenties are something to be excited about. I have come to realize that I shouldn’t harbor dread because I’ve gained a whole new perspective as a 20 year old. My fears about growing older have helped me cherish every year, month, day and moment. This new age has reinforced my belief that everything happens for a reason. So, I’ll sit back and relish in everything that’s to come. To someone, I will always be young. And to someone else, I will always be old. That is the joy of age; it is all relative.

Thus, my first attempt at a column is to admit, loud and proud, that I am no longer a teenager. While this was a hard pill to swallow at first, I have grown content with the fact and I realize that I am still the same girl who watches cartoons, swears by pinky promises and enjoys playing dress up. Albeit, I no longer dress in tacky princess dresses with glittery heels but I definitely appreciate dressing up to my heart’s content.

Above all, I feel that it is time to carve my place in the world. I am so grateful for life and its lessons and I am looking forward to learning everyday and maturing more into the person that I am. Perhaps “old” isn’t the right word to describe me after all. Mature is more fitting.