Letter to my newly 19-year-old self

Caitlin Brown

Dear Caitlin,

You just turned 19, and you weren’t particularly excited about it.

That’s a big deal for you. You were always the kid who couldn’t sleep for weeks at a time because your birthday was coming up. But believe me — you didn’t lose any sleep over this one.

For you, turning 19 means any doubts you had about shopping in the juniors’ section are definitely erased. Nineteen means finally feeling legitimately old enough to read Glamour magazine while waiting to get your haircut — and it also means paying for the visit yourself because your mother doesn’t offer to take you anymore.

Turning 19 means talking about what birthday cake you want and smiling because you realize you’ve been asking for the same one since you were 4 — chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Nineteen means knowing you shouldn’t have eaten that much, but taking another piece anyway.

Nineteen generally isn’t a big milestone in a person’s life. Yes, it’s your last year to enjoy being a teenager, but by now you’ve known teen-dom for six years.

There are a number of different reasons why you weren’t very excited this year. Your level of responsibility is always increasing. This may just be a busy time of year; maybe there are other things on your mind. Or maybe your focus is just shifting — away from yourself so much. Yes, your birthday is one of the few days in your life you can call purely your own, but maybe you don’t feel the need to do that anymore.

When people call the house, they don’t ask for you — it’s always for one of your younger brothers or one of your parents. When you went to the school musical that your brother was in recently, you realized that you didn’t know everyone in the play. “Have I been gone that long?” you asked yourself. Maybe these things are strange and unusual, but they’re becoming your new norm.

Turning 19 means letting go and being OK with it. It means knowing your relative unimportance in the grand scheme of things, but still having enough young faith to build a solid identity. It’s OK to still swing your legs when you’re sitting on a picnic table. It’s OK to leave your muddy shoes in the hallway. It’s OK to ask questions, to make up answers, to all at once feel like you’re finally figuring it out, and to feel like you still have so far to go. It’s OK to not feel as excited as you have been about your birthday — you’re not who you used to be, and that’s fine.

You’re growing up, one chocolate birthday cake at a time, and that’s all that matters.



Caitlin Brown is a freshman nursing major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].