At 12:11 a.m. on July 31, 2021, I turned 20 years old. Multiply 525,600 minutes by 20 and you get an inexplicably large number. Since we don’t count the minutes continuously as we grow older, how do you measure 20 years? Is it moments of laughing at horrible dad jokes or trying to hold tears from my first heartbreak? What about jumping for joy when I see my friends, frustratingly screaming when school doesn’t make sense or feeling waves of peace when meditating on life?

As I go through the motions of life, all the important moments blur into one massive area of my mind. There is always something else to look towards in the future, but sometimes it’s hard to slow down. While frantically texting my friend about the mind-boggling realization that my age would start with a “2” rather than “1,” she responded, “Slow down.” While I was definitely rushing to make it to 20 years old, thinking about the changes in my life birthed an epiphany: How has each year of my life influenced who I am today?

These haikus reflect growth, pain, joy and the inherent feeling that becoming an additional year old can be a beginning and end all at once. 

1 year old:

Born Leo Rising,

Full Head of Curly Black Hair,

Skin as white as snow

2 years old:

My big childhood home

Big Trees and the Green Grass Grows

Little sister soon

3 years old: 

A Baby arrives

Why is she so small? I sigh

Mom, what about me?

4 years old: 

Watch Land Before Time

Barbie, Elmo, fill my eyes

Clifford, do not cry

5 years old: 

Cheerios, I eat

Rice and Chicken, what a treat

Birthday Cake, falls down

6 years old: 

English, not my strength

I go to school, learn to read

My life with words dawns

7 years old:

Teachers inspire me,

Confidence, with words of love

Bullies will still hate

8 years old: 

Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad

My father wants to have a 

Trillionaire baby

9 years old: 

Trying to make friends

“Do not say hi all the time”

I bite back my tongue

10 years old:

One decade finished

Transformed into woman child

New School and New Friends

11 years old:

How Long Will This Last?

Middle School is Awkward, Bad

Fashion Choices Made

12 years old: 

Who am I? They ask

Colleges will want to know

I want a boyfriend

13 years old:

Do not Mess With Me

Invincible and fearless

I’m a teenager

14 years old:

I watch Crunchyroll,

Anime convention, why? 

All my friends are weebs 

15 years old:

Ai Ogawa Reads

Holden’s Gift, I’m traumatized

No longer have friends

16 years old:

Why am I so dark?

People say I act too white

As my skin burns Black 

17 years old:

I found my calling,

Writing helps me find my way

anxious for future

18 years old:

Freshman year changes,

Parties, Classes, Too Much Stress

Pandemic Hits Hard

19 years old: 

Changed majors, again, 

Hey Siri, who are my friends? 

Calling Depression

20 years old:

College halfway done

So much lost and so much gained

One Step At A Time

MiC Columnist Jasmin Lee can be contacted at itsshlee@umich.edu