Recently, I have been feeling a bit stressed out about my future. As a second semester freshman, I already feel pressure to get good grades, choose my major and, not to mention, get an internship. However, in a strange way, it has felt good to be stressed about these things because I feel as if I am on the way to becoming an adult.
Then, I saw Kylie Jenner’s announcement regarding the birth of her and rapper Travis Scott’s daughter, Stormi. I also found out that she had her first child at 20-years-old, only one year older than I am.
When I first saw the announcement, I was shocked. Granted, I didn’t tweet about it and express my anxiety like so many others did, but I did frantically ask my friends if they had heard the news. I wasn’t judging Jenner for being “too young” or “too immature” to be a mother. I freaked out because I’m only a year younger than her, yet while I can barely take care of myself, Jenner manages to run a $420 million company and keep up with several other business ventures including endorsement deals and a clothing line. And now, she has a child.
I realize now I shouldn’t have been so shocked that someone my age had a baby. I’m at a point in my life during which my peers will undoubtedly go through critical life changes, both in their professional and personal lives. I, too, will go through these changes. It’s terrifying, but then again, the prospect of going to college scared me a year ago, yet I’m getting by. I think the reason so many people have something to say about Jenner’s baby is not because of some misguided need to hate on her. It’s because young people are taught to compare themselves to others their age, and when they see someone who seems to be more “advanced” than them, they tend to get frightened.
As a college student, I constantly see my peers compare themselves to each other. Students ask each other questions not because of a genuine interest, but because they want to know how they compare. Ranging from inquiries about summer plans to GPAs, these questions students ask each other are a way for them to gauge where they fall on their made-up spectrum of success. This need to compete is perfectly natural and important, because it keeps young adults in touch with their peers and aware of the world around them; however, it’s also important to be aware of this competitiveness and keep it in check.
College pits students against each other as well, with exam curves depending on how others’ score and special awards given to those with high GPAs. While healthy competition drives students to do their best, I’ve found students often lose confidence and motivation to do well if they feel they are not as accomplished as their peers. I sometimes feel this way when I see how my peers are doing. Other times, I become scared, because they seem so ahead of me in every way. Jenner, while not my peer, was a person who made people, including myself, feel this way.
Seeing Jenner have a baby made me feel as if I’m suddenly being forced to grow up and be an adult. Suddenly, my own issues about school seemed juvenile and less monumental than hers’, as if I was behind her developmentally because she’s dealing with being a new mother while I complain about my class workload. I don’t know exactly why I feel this way, but I think part of it is because I’m almost the same age as her and she’s going through perhaps one of the most monumental life changes a person can ever go through.
It doesn’t make sense that I would suddenly feel this way, given her many other achievements. Yet, her wealth never made me feel as if I had some “growing up” to do because I’ve become desensitized to young people with large amounts of money. There are so many young YouTubers and celebrities who show off their wealth on social media. Yet, none of these wealthy people around my age, including the ones who are married or in committed relationships, have children.
Non-wealthy young people are waiting to have children, too; in January 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, “the mean age of mothers has increased from 2000 to 2014 for all birth orders, with age at first birth having the largest increase, up from 24.9 years in 2000 to 26.3 years in 2014.” While I know there are mothers globally who are even younger than Jenner, hearing about her daughter still shocked me.
Despite how surprising Jenner’s pregnancy was to so many people, there’s no need for anyone to feel frightened when they see Jenner has had a baby at such a young age, nor is there any reason to criticize her. She’s an extremely wealthy celebrity and is therefore in a completely different position than most people her age; it doesn’t make sense for me to compare my life to her life. In addition, as someone who is in an awkward transitional phase in which I feel like neither a child nor an adult, I believe it’s important for people my age to remember there’s no need for them to compare their lives to anyone else’s, much less to that of a beauty mogul with a multimillion dollar empire. Everyone progresses to different stages of their lives at different rates, and that’s okay.
There’s no need for people to feel as if they need to compare themselves to their peers at all, either. Competition should be healthy and meant to motivate everyone to succeed, not just those who have the highest GPAs or the most impressive résumé. As young adults, we need to focus on ourselves and how we are doing instead of trying to outcompete our peers. Jenner is not our peer, and with this in mind, we should leave her alone.
Krystal Hur can be reached at email@example.com.