Advice, Lifestyle

Feeling 21 years old, 16 and 80 years old at heart

Coming to you live from Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street is Maya Frankel, 21-year-old tea enthusiast. 

Now that my cool introduction is out of the way, let’s switch to first person. I turned 21 years old on Oct. 4. It seems weird to finally be the age you’ve both feared and looked forward to becoming. For so many years, I worried about growing up and how it would change me. I feared getting older and not being myself anymore, but that is not the definition of growing up.

Growing up means gaining new knowledge and experiences. Growing up means growing into yourself — the person you’re meant to be. Growing up used to scare me, but now I look forward to meeting the person I will become and how I’ll change. The future is uncertain, but the one thing I know to be true is that everything will work out. In my view, everyone is destined for greatness and their happily-ever-after.

The night before my birthday, I stayed awake with my roommate Sam to watch the clock strike midnight and my birthday to begin. We started dancing and singing — awed that I was actually 21. The birthday I had been thinking about for years was finally here. The night felt like a dream I was going to wake up from at any moment. I went to sleep happy and excited for what this year would bring me.

birthday candles
Birthday candles. After recently turning 21 years old, Maya reflects on how she is exactly where she wants to be and encourages us to enjoy every minute of life by remaining in the present. COURTESY OF SYNX508 VIA CREATIVE COMMONS

I awoke to 55 degrees Fahrenheit weather, strong winds and unforgettable heavy rain. Nevertheless, we made due and moved our outdoor picnic to inside my apartment. My beautiful friends Sam and Patch watercolor painted with me on our floor as we listened to calming music. We ordered Cafe Landwer and enjoyed each other’s company, feeling safe from the cold weather inside our cozy Bay State apartment.

That night, I went out to dinner with my best friends Julia and Sam. We ate french fries and I ordered a pink champagne drink. I felt like an adult holding champagne in my hand at a fancy French restaurant. It seemed like a night out of a movie from us running to the Uber in the rain to us cheering with champagne on my 21st birthday.

Growing up I was always the girl that didn’t want to get older and was afraid of the future. Oh, how the tables have turned. I’m now the girl that looks forward to each year and the beautiful, exciting opportunities and adventures I’ll embark on. The unknown is something to look forward to, not to be scared of. Think of the unknown as a story that is constantly adding new pages. How can you skip ahead without all the pages that lead up to the future moments? The answer: you can’t.

Every experience — good or bad — shapes who you are and who you will become. I do sometimes feel like an 80-year-old woman drinking tea and watching a movie at 9 p.m.. Other days I feel like I am 16 years old again, wanting to run through a city and never stop. Whether I feel 80, 21 or 16 years old, one thing is for certain — I am happy where I am. I’m not wondering where I’ll be in the next 20 years. 

It feels strange being 21 years old as a sophomore. I took a gap year so it makes sense, but sometimes I wonder if I would’ve felt different had I been 18 years old going into Boston University. That thought quickly leaves my head as I remember I am right where I’m meant to be at exactly the right time. 

Everyone is in exactly the place they should be — don’t think otherwise. Wishing you were someplace else or could turn back time is not productive for anyone. Reminisce on your past with photos and videos. Remain in the present moment when you look up.

Enjoy every minute of this beautiful life. The good and the bad shape who you are so don’t be afraid when you make a mistake or worry about a decision being the right one. You will make a million decisions and learn from your mistakes. If you don’t make them, how will you learn? Believe in yourself and who you are. Trust you are exactly where you are meant to be and enjoy the ride.

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