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Entering the Roaring ‘20s: A personal essay

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OCTOBER 11, 2019

Goodbye, teenage years; I definitely won’t miss you.

 

Who would miss the pubescent nightmare that is a 13-year-old who believes he’s cooler than he really is because all of a sudden he’s a “teenager”? I still can’t figure out why I thought it would be fashionable to wear sunglasses over my glasses as I styled my hair with more gel than anyone should ever use.

Who would miss the chip-on-his-shoulder 14-year-old who thought he was too smart to try in high school before subsequently failing the easiest math classes? I slouched in my seat to hide my subpar test scores and found peace in the humanities classes that were next on my schedule.

Who would miss the angsty 15-year-old who thought growing his hair out was a good idea, despite everyone’s protests? Flaunting long, unkempt hair and allowing there to be photographic evidence of such an experiment.

Who would miss the edgy 16-year-old who skated in malls and drank energy drinks because he thought it made him cool? Hanging out in the back parking lots but leaving when kids who actually knew how to skate well showed up, in fear of being outed as a poser. 

Who would miss the overconfident 17-year-old who finally got his driver’s license and celebrated by breaking curfew and getting his keys taken away? Watching scary movies and loitering in Denny’s before a frantic series of phone calls would drag me back home.

Who would miss the irresponsible 18-year-old who fell so far behind on his readings because he went out dancing every night? Pulling an all-nighter before a final exam, only to fall asleep in the middle of the test.

Who would miss the tired 19-year-old who took on too many things and felt burnt out from even the activities he found the most enjoyable?

OK, maybe I will miss my teenage years a little bit.

OK, maybe I will miss my teenage years a little bit.

I’ll miss discovering how much I love black skinny jeans. Being 13 and going out to watch movies with friends, exploring the city with the first taste of freedom. Getting my first cell phone and texting friends until 2 a.m., hiding the light under my pillow as my parents walked past my room.

I’ll miss getting closer to the friends I survived high school with. Being 14 and playing Risk for the first time, waging a war against my friends that ended only after a few hours of joking mixed with competition.

I’ll miss envisioning my first grand dreams of what my future could possibly be. Looking at colleges and planning my future. Being 15 and pulling all-nighters, playing video games and watching movies at a friend’s house, trying to keep our laughter down as his parents slept.

I’ll miss going to my first school dance and spending the night playing air hockey, probably enjoying that most of all. Being 16 and actually being able to speak somewhat coherently to my crush, finding time outside of class to talk about everything and nothing all at once.

I’ll miss driving with the windows down in the simmering summer heat, loud music playing as I drove to the beach with my best friend. Being 17 and blowing out the candles on an embarrassing Disney princess cake my friends bought for my birthday.

I’ll miss the first feeling of discovery when I found my love for dance, going out with new friends and testing out the two or three moves we just learned. Being 18 and moving out to go to college, trying and failing to go to a party during my first weekend away from home, but still having a great night with new people.

I’ll miss watching “Hamilton” and reciting the line “Only nineteen but my mind is older” on repeat because I felt so excited and motivated about everything I was doing.

I’ll miss watching “Hamilton” and reciting the line “Only nineteen but my mind is older” on repeat because I felt so excited and motivated about everything I was doing. Being 19 and pursuing plans for my career, working at a movie studio and finding my own path from it.

I may not miss the embarrassing moments and stupid mistakes, but I’m only where I am now because of who I was then. I could only find a good hairstyle after the mishaps of my teen years. I could only appreciate the value of hard work and commitment after the mistakes I made in high school. But after surviving those years, here I am now. Twenty.

Turning 20 doesn’t quite feel like the biggest jump. Unlike 16, you don’t get a driver’s license. Unlike 18, you don’t get the chance to vote. It’s not yet 21, when I’ll be able to drink. Nor is it 25, when I can rent a car. 

Goodbye, teenage years; you were fun and horrible, embarrassing and irreplaceable, challenging and formative. Even if turning 20 is just an arbitrary change, it’s still the end of an era. So goodbye to those times, and here’s to hoping this next decade lives up to all of its potential.

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Contact Emmanuel Ronquillo at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

OCTOBER 11, 2019


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