God Bless Them Twenty-Somethings

Today I am among the first people to have turned twenty, who have only existed since the turn of the millennia. Although those born in 97–99 likely have an almost identical experience to mine — if they will cling to being “90s babies” then I will cling to being a baby of the new millennia, a 2000s baby.

Life is weird in general. Life has been particularly weird these last *checks notes* SEVEN MONTHS. Somehow though I’ve been blessed enough to find beauty among chaos and despair. My baby sister and I have grown thick as thieves. My relationship with my parents is maturing as we navigate the weird young adult but still their baby landscape. I’m living out the (somewhat pandemic altered) dream of my mentor and me, thriving at her alma mater all alongside my best friend from high school. I’ve got friends that keep me laughing and found a guy that gives me butterflies.

It goes without saying that life is not all roses. Pandemic, racial unrest, and the pending collapse of the American empire aside, I have my own personal struggles with mental health and body image. I’m still a low-income Black woman at a PWI. I’ve lost friends and had my heart broken and some dreams crushed. I’ve been bad at things (though I’ll never admit that again). I’ve made terrible mistakes and some weren’t able to be fixed.

I am a good person.

Wait wait….before you exit because I’m being self-aggrandizing let me explain.

I was never a popular kid. Never had a whole gaggle of friends and I was pretty actively bullied at different times. This is not a story to make a martyr of myself. I wasn't some tortured soul destined to produce greatness from suffering at the hands of vapid and immoral peers. No, I was just a quirky kid. I came from a quirky family. I really didn’t fit into the spaces I was in, at least not entirely. And not in the indie forward-thinking ahead of the curve way, no more like the regular uncool a little behind and off-kilter way.

In hindsight, I can see the moral neutrality of all it. It just was what it was. As I was experiencing it though I took my loneliness and the ridicule as evidence that I was a bad person. Naively, I believed if I were a person worth liking then every one or at least most people would like me. Since it felt like most did not like me then I must not have been a good person. Years later I grew out of concretely believing that but the foundation had been laid and the damage was done. Deep deep inside I didn’t believe I was a good person. So fast forward through years of anxiety, insecurity, perfectionism, and depression and here we are now.

But today after the outpouring of love I’ve received I feel like I can finally say with a semblance of confidence that I am a good person. So many of the messages I received today told me how deserving I was of a good birthday and that I was a light or inspiration in people’s lives. You can take it as just the usual birthday fodder or write me off as narcissistic. I take it as God confirming an idea I’ve been creeping around through the people closest to me. That maybe just maybe I am a good person.

I want to be good and seen as good by the people I respect and love, and I want to feel like I am good.

It’s not that I’m popular now or everyone likes me now. I don’t even think the concept of popularity can even really fit in the college context. However, when people I see as good and deserving people — my loved ones and peers — tell me that I too am good and deserving, well I am inclined to believe it.

Do I still have to do the work of untangling popularity and “being liked” from goodness? Yes. But let me tell you it feels a LOT easier when you at least have the foundation that you are a good person.

It has been so important to me to be a good person in the world. I would like to be kind. I would like to be loving and soft. I would like to feel like a beacon of God’s love in a very dark world. And so for so long when I felt like I was missing the mark it was deeply troubling. I want to be good and seen as good by the people I respect and love, and I want to feel like I am good.

And I finally do. And maybe it’s just the birthday glow, but I’ll take it. Should my next step maybe be decentering other people’s perceptions of me from my self worth? Yeah, absolutely. But for now, can I celebrate the small victories? That at least some people see me as I would like to believe I am. That they understand me. Isn’t so much of the human experience wanting to be understood and validated?

Yeah, so maybe it took some other people valuing and validating me for me to do the same but at least I got here! Now I can do the work to center myself as the purveyor of my worth, but perhaps sometimes you don’t learn to love yourself before someone loves you, sometimes someone(or someones) loving you, teaches you to love yourself.

This is essentially a long-winded way of saying I’m a twenty-year-old person that has lived through twenty-year-old person things. If you’re over twenty you’re probably reading this like “thank you for rehashing what we already know here” I know. I’m sorry. I just got here. Everything is shiny and new to me.

I won’t pretend to be particularly wise. I don’t think us twenty-year-olds are revered for our wisdom anyhow, so I’ll just list 20 semi-joking/semi-serious (some very serious) observations/musings I’ve made as a baby of the millennium, and you can decide what resonates for you.

  1. The MCU is the superior movie franchise. I take no arguments.
  2. This is the most enjoyable music time period. Not saying today’s music is best but the fact that I have access to all of today’s music as well as all the way back to Motown in the age of streaming — a blessing pure and simple. I see music as proof of the divine and here I have it all layed before me. (Also can we at least give 2020 it’s flowers for being a disaster movie with the most phenomenal soundtrack known to man)
  3. God, climate change is so so real.
  4. Iced coffee > Hot Coffee
  5. NY Pizza does indeed live up to the hype.
  6. Twitter is the superior social media app. ARGUE WITH YOUR MOTHER.
  7. Instagram wants to be Amazon sooo bad.
  9. Wear. Sunscreen. Please. Even if you're a POC.
  10. Drinking water should not be a quirky personality trait, but please drink it.
  11. Doja Cat, DuckWrth, Megan Thee Stallion, ChloexHalle, Giveon, Lucky Daye, and Ari Lennox are the FUTURE of Black superstars.
  12. Lemonade deserved AOTY. Period.
  13. Black Panther is the best Marvel Movie with the best soundtrack.
  14. The Lavender iPhone should be a staple. It’s the prettiest.
  15. College is a scam. I am obtaining a degree to prove that I know how to do what I do already — write and research (check out other work here!)
  16. A close family is the greatest gift God has given me.
  17. My chosen family of friends is the second greatest gift God has given me.
  18. October is the best month. I was born, other Libras, fall weather, Halloween antics, fall break (RIP a thing of yesteryear), pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and a new Ariana Grande album pending! October wins!!
  19. All Black Lives Matter. Dismantle capitalism and white supremacy. Land back to the Indigenous.
  20. Life is weird. Fill it with what brings you joy and try your best to bring joy to other people, and somewhere along the way you might end up happy sometimes.

Undergraduate student | just writing into the void | topics of interest: race, gender, music, and culture | Instagram: liyahh.allen