October 7, 2013

looking back on 20.

For work, I wrote a story on What 20 Starlets Were Doing at Age 20, a celebrity time machine of sorts. With all the controversy over her new image and her recent performances, Miley Cyrus has sparked somewhat of an age debate recently, saying that people forget what it feels like to be 20. My story looks back on 20 famous females to see what they were doing at 20, and I found that I was fascinated by how different the age looked on different people. It's such an in-between time, isn't it?
For my part, 20 was the year of my first love and my first heartbreak, the year I was forced to understand the strange divide between the two. It was the year I learned that loss can leave you changed and sometimes hardened, but also more free and more fearless than you'd ever hoped. 

At 20, I lived with my very best friends, embracing the kind of all-day, everyday friendship that can only come from roommates who know you better than you know yourself. I was San Diego blond, hopeful, and more relaxed than I'd ever been, all side effects from having said roommates.

It was the year I studied abroad in Oxford, stepping out on my own in a way I'd never imagined that I would. It was the year I visited Paris and Amsterdam and Rome and Madrid, the year I drank Guinness in Dublin and sang karaoke in Prague and saw the Moulin Rouge in person. There were fun flings and late nights and long, lazy Sundays spent sipping coffee and walking along the charming, cobblestone streets of England. It was the year I chose to be a writer, the year I learned to let go.
The in-between of 20 carried the greatest extremes, all the highest highs and lowest lows, all the overwhelming feelings of what if and why not, questions of who I was and who I wanted to be. I felt like I knew nothing and everything, like I was forever on the brink of something I didn't recognize.

That year I felt both needed and pushed away, both accepted and wildly misunderstood.

And just weeks before turning 21, at the tail end of 20, I met Radley. There was our first date — the one where he accidentally shaved off half his hair and called to apologize beforehand. There was the first time he sent flowers, a dozen roses, and I didn't yet know how to accept that kind of love.

Now, six years later, I look back on 20 and I miss it. I miss the plans and the dreams that came with uncertainty, the way it felt to live so spontaneously, so in the moment. I miss the dorm and the friends and the feeling that I was always moving forward, always looking ahead. It was a good year, one of my favorites, but also one of the hardest. A give-and-take. That's how it seems to be with 20, I think, because like any sort of gray area, it forces you to act and, eventually, to choose.


Haley said... [Reply to comment]

I loved this post! I'm turning 25 this month and your words gave me chills. I can relate so much and am not inspired to do a little reflecting of my own on 20-24.

Thank you for sharing!

Laura Marie Meyers said... [Reply to comment]

@Haley Share the link if you write about it, would love to read! :)

Gallane Says said... [Reply to comment]

Love this post along with many of your others.I dont comment much but I think you should know; You just have such a beautiful way with words that really makes someone feel what you are feeling and hope for the same. I used to write often and everytime I read one of your post I feel a bit inspired again. Dont ever stop.

Emily L. Alleman said... [Reply to comment]


It's so strange to read this post because I feel like I'm reading my own story. At 20, I also studied abroad in Oxford and had similar adventures in Paris, Edinburgh, and all around England. It was a year of becoming a little more fearless and a little less innocent, while at the same time breaking free from others' expectations and growing into myself. I gave my heart away and had it handed back to me, and I also had a roommate who doubled as my best friend (and still does). Like you, I learned SO much about myself at 20.

Now, as a 21-year-old, I still have a lot to learn and a lot to look forward to. I'm graduating from the University of Texas in two months with a degree in English and Journalism. And today, I have an interview with PopSugar's Mandy Harris for a job next spring. I've always loved reading PopSugar, but you were the person that inspired me to apply. I figured if you love working there, I probably would too. Thank you for that. At the risk of coming off too strong, my hope is that I will one day get to meet you in person -- I have a feeling I could learn a lot from you, and I'd love to chat for hours about our 20-something adventures over coffee.

A fellow dreamer/writer/traveler,

Allie said... [Reply to comment]

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Everything about this is dead on. I am currently 20 and this is how I feel every single day. This time is SUCH a grey area and while I always try to embrace it and not think too far ahead, there is something about being in your 20's but just on the brink that forces you to think ahead possibly too much. Thanks for writing such a perfect post. :)


Laura Marie Meyers said... [Reply to comment]

@Gallane Says That means so much, thank you :)

Laura Marie Meyers said... [Reply to comment]

@Emily L. Alleman Wow, yeah, it sounds like we've had really similar experiences... and good luck on your interview! :)

Meredith said... [Reply to comment]

I love this post, Laura! I recently moved back to Paris, where I spent a semester when I was 20, so I can't help but think back on all the things that have changed - and all the things that have stayed the same, too (like something you said in another post that really resonated with me - about those deep-down traits that have always been there). 20 is simultaneously so easy and so very hard - and there a million and one ways to handle all of it. Thanks for sharing that glimpse of 20 :)


Shannon Kerns said... [Reply to comment]

Laura, very well written! Your mid to late twenties can be a little rough for sure, a wake up call of sorts. I promise thirty will come as welcome relief. In August I wrote 34 which basically sums up my thoughts on living through your twenties in general. Take a look if you have a minute :)


picadaisy said... [Reply to comment]

This is so beautifully written, and so relatable to! I was also 20 when I moved to Europe (temporarily)/traveled around by myself for the first time (which inevitably also included a lot of other firsts). :)

jillianlorraine.com said... [Reply to comment]

I loved this post so much I wrote one of my own. Twenty was a big year for me, too.

Me at 20: