Twenty Years


Twenty Years

2020 has been bizarre. From wildfires destroying much of Australia’s landscape, to floods which devastated much of South Wales to these unprecedented times – all within a handful of months.

It’s impossible to forget the pain and suffering so many have unfortunately had to face this year alone, with barely five months under our belts.

I can’t help, however, but contemplate the last twenty years of my life and hope for better days ahead. As dramatic as it seems, I think we’d all like for this year to be done with.

Twenty years ago, the world was celebrating a new Millennium. The world entered the twenty-first century, and within ten years, leapt to heights not many could predict.

I was born in May of 2000. Which means I’ll be twenty this month. But what a weird twenty years of life to have lived. Countless events shocking the world, to now, living through a global pandemic.

People my age have seen so much, and yet our lives are barely even beginning yet. We’ve seen war and terror attacks on our screens; we’ve seen political upheaval (and countless arguments over such upheaval); we’ve seen technological advancements so vast it’s often seen as surprising that I lived through a period of life where I didn’t have an iPhone.

Twenty years is a long time – but it’s also not. Not really. My life is only now really beginning, but I still don’t have many life experiences. Twenty seems so old, but also so young all in one go.

A few weeks ago. I was announced as the new Editor in Chief of my university’s newspaper. And yet in that same week I was hoping my Mam could ring the doctor for me. It seems so mind-boggling to me that I am gaining these opportunities to advance my career, but I still feel like a child.

There’s an expectation that by twenty years old you should have your life in order. That being in University or having a job or a family should mean that you’re an adult. But it doesn’t feel that way, really.

It feels a little as though I’m playing House. I know what I’m doing when it comes to Uni and the newspaper, but then, somehow, I still feel as though everything else is a big guessing game.

I’ve seen so much change in twenty years. Enough change that my ancestors would likely feel my twenty years was more than three lifetimes. Twenty years which feel like centuries, but also like no time at all.

I mean this generally of course – my lifetime is only so different to that of any other twenty-year-old. But these past twenty years have been rough, no?

It’s not all bad, of course. Although we’ve had some terrible times, we’ve had some advancements, too.

Opinions are evolving, and acceptance is more readily available. It would be naïve of me to say there is no evil in the world, or that prejudice is non-existent; but it is possible to say that the world has changed for the better and more people are having open discussions and checking their own prejudices.

Hard topics are being discussed, and topics such as women’s rights and reproductive health; mental health; racial stereotyping; gender norms; LGBTQIA+ rights, and the mental wellbeing of men are reaching new audiences.

Twenty years ago, it seems unlikely a popular television programme on a big American network, such as ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, would have such open discussion about sexuality, racial prejudice, sexual harassment and even male mental health. The show takes place in a New York police department – an unlikely background for such open discussions to be had twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago, the world was a different place. It’s not the first time this has been the case, and it won’t be the last. But it has been remarkable to see. The world still isn’t a great place, but by some means it’s a better place than it was twenty years ago.

I don’t know what the next twenty years may bring. I don’t know whether the world will have bettered itself or deteriorated. Honestly, I don’t know if the world will still be here, given the threat of World War III at the beginning of this year.

Twenty years is a long time in the grand scheme of things.

I wonder what the children born in 2020 will have experienced by the time they reach twenty years old