Miley Cyrus has lived through so many eras and identities that it’s easy to forget just how young she really is, but Nov. 23 is her 21st birthday. The singer couldn’t rent a car, she couldn’t (legally) drink, and she couldn’t vote in any presidential elections before 2012. According to science, Cyrus’s brain hasn’t even finished developing yet!
Still, our former Hannah Montana has packed a lot of living into her 21 years. From wrecking balls to stripper poles, here are 21 moments that made us think that Miley Cyrus was already an old soul.
1. That time she got engaged. The average age of first marriage for women has climbed to just under 27 years in America, but Miley got engaged to Liam Hemsworth when she was 19, giving them plenty of time to break up, get back together, and eventually call the whole thing off.
2. All those times she partied with strippers. Over the past few years, Cyrus has acted as a one-woman stimulus package for the exotic dancing industry. For her 20th birthday the Bangerz singer repeatedly wished for “at least one big booty h–” – and according to the pictures, she got her wish.
3. That time she had five no. 1 albums. Some artists never even release five albums in their entire careers.
4. That time she rocked “Jolene.” For her Backyard Sessions in summer 2012, Miley took on godmother Dolly Parton’s classic tale of a no-good witchy woman and completely owned it, showing off an emotional range that belied her young age.
5. That time she hung out with Terry Richardson. Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” director is 48 years old, yet he and Miley seem like two souls who were just waiting to find each other. They share the same aesthetics, the same penchant for provocation, and we’re pretty sure they have the exact same sense of humor.
6. That time she twerked up on Robin Thicke. Would Miley 2.0 have been so successful without this performance? It’s possible, but this controversial VMAs routine showed that Cyrus had the self-promotional skills of an artist 10 years older. (That artist is Kim Kardashian.)
7. That time she showed incredible perspective after the VMAs. As the twerking maelstrom raged all around her, Miley gave an incisive interview to Rolling Stone, taking ownership of her identity and making sure we all knew she was the one pulling her own strings: “I know what I’m doing. I know I’m shocking you. When I’m dressed in that teddy bear thing, I think that’s funny.”
8. That time she bleached her eyebrows. That’s a total Björk move, but even Björk wasn’t Björk at 20.
9. That time she had her very own romantic comedy moment. Back when Miley was still engaged to Liam, ex Nick Jonas made a desperate attempt to get her back, recording a song called “Wedding Bells” that implored her not to go through with it. Just like in The Graduate his plan worked. Unlike in The Graduate, they still didn’t get back together.
10. That time she was on the Forbes 100 list – three years ago. She’s been rich longer than the Tumblr dude.
11. That time she nailed her Saturday Night Live monologue. No deers here, nor any headlights.
12. That time she hung out with a penis cake. Besides Terry Richardson, Miley also shares a sense of humor with a 33-year-old woman at a bachelorette party.
13. That time she covered “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It’s a song that’s older than she is.
14. That time she smoked weed on stage. When teenagers smoke marijuana, they do it furtively, in basements and bedrooms. It takes an adult’s confidence to nonchalantly light up in public.
15. That time she smoked salvia. What can we say, it’s the favored drug of choice for middle-aged men on lost weekends in Vegas.
16. That time she pole-danced at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards. OK, so it was an ice-cream cart pole, but still: this was three or four image makeovers ago.
17. That time she wore Cloris Leachman’s coat in the “We Can’t Stop” video. Compare and contrast.
18. That time she dressed up in a Michael Jordan jersey for Mike Will’s “23″ music video. Michael Jordan retired from the Bulls when Miley Cyrus was 5 years old.
19. That time she dressed up as Tina Turner from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome at the VH1 Divas concert. Tina Turner was 45 years old when she was in Mad Max.
20. The time she swung a sledgehammer in the “Wrecking Ball” video. Being a construction worker is a years-long process that involves an intense training and apprenticeship period.
21. Those times she was photographed drinking something that looked a whole lot like alcohol. We literally could not believe that Miley Cyrus was under 21 here.