I’ve pretty much been thinking about my age for the past 5 months, ever since I turned 25 and stopped qualifying as someone in their “early twenties.” Next year I’ll be closer to 30 than I am to 20 and that thought is a little mind-blowing.
You know how you always envision the way your life will turn out in the future? Lately I’ve been thinking so much about how I saw myself at 25 when I was 15. 10 years ago I was dreaming about what it would be like after college. I mean, it wasn’t intensely detailed or even terribly specific. But I had ideas about the things that would come between my sophomore year of high school and my 25th birthday. Ideas may not even be the right word… I think I had assumptions of how I saw things going down in the next decade of my life:
-I figured I’d go to college.
-At the time, I thought I would major in education and become a teacher
-I assumed I’d meet my future husband in college, probably my freshman or sophomore year.
-If follows, then, that I’d marry him shortly after graduating college.
-We’d live in an apartment somewhere for a while, but we’d eventually move into cute little house with a big porch and fireflies in the front yard.
-I honestly figured I’d be pregnant by now.
-I’d be happy and fulfilled with my life.
Sheesh. Such a basic white girl list of dreams.
But that’s what I thought I wanted and honestly that’s how I thought life worked, as if the time between 15 and 30 was a set list of things to check off as you accomplished them.
It doesn’t work that way at all.
Turning 25 made me sit back and re-evaluate all of the items on my check-list that I assumed were normal and happened to everyone. When I was 15 I figured that the only people who didn’t achieve those things were obviously free-spririted individuals or those sorts who had royally screwed-up their lives somewhere. God, was I naive.
I graduated college 3 years ago.
I didn’t become a teacher, because I realized halfway through my freshman year I didn’t actually want to do that.
No “ring by spring” (actually, that was OK). No boyfriend. I didn’t even date anyone in college.
After an especially frustrating summer in which I looked for a job that had some relevance to my profitable liberal arts major, I took a job at a coffee shop and further fulfilled the liberal arts stereotype.
It’s been three years since then. I’m still working at that same coffee shop. And lately, I’ve realized that I have no idea what I’m doing with my life or even what I would want to do with it. It’s what I lovingly refer to as my “quarter-life crisis.” You know the cliched concept of a mid-life crisis: someone goes off the deep end when they realize how much they haven’t done with their life, buys a fancy sports car, quits their job, becomes really concerned with the gray hairs on their head.
Mine’s been a bit more tame. I got a cat. I got my nose pierced. I cut my hair. I’ve been trying new things as a way to break the monotony and the uniformity that are all of my days.
And to be honest, the very last thing on that list still feels pretty far away from me right now. Even just in the last month it feels as though all the dreams in my life have fallen apart completely and left me standing in a giant pile of ash and dust, sifting through to find something concrete. It still feels as though I’m barely scraping by and trying desperately to be an adult, far away from my family a lot of my close friends. I’ve been sick off and on for two months, paying doctors bills and developing new sicknesses due to treating other ones. I’ve sat across the table from someone and waited to hear the answer I already knew was coming. I’ve watched them go on being happy and struggled to pretend to be OK.
I feel heartbroken, sad, and often incredibly discouraged.
I don’t say any of that to beg for sympathy or to bring about concern.
I’m OK. I’ll be OK.
I’m saying that being 25 is completely different than I could have ever possibly imagined it. It’s been a lot more pain than I ever thought was possible, a lot of growing in places that I didn’t realize needed to be stretched, a lot of concern over the way my life is unfolding versus the way I see other people. Being 25 has created an uneasiness in me that makes me want to focus on the people around me and contrast our lives; it’s broken open that place inside of me that is chock full of insecurity and bared it to the world. I catch myself looking at pictures on Facebook and wishing that their happiness was mine, and then realizing just how destructive that desire can be.
Being 25 has been this complex picture that no Buzzfeed article, no “Things You Should Do in Your Twenties” slideshow, no Hollywood depiction can truly encapsulate.
It’s sucked. But it’s also been full of accomplishments and growth as I continue to make myself do hard things and try to figure out who I really am. Because, let’s face it–a decade later, I’m still just as unsure and unaware about who I am and what I want to do with my life than I was when I was 15.
Being 25 means I’m older, sure, and maybe a little wiser. But it mostly means that I am constantly realizing I have a lot more growing up to do, a lot more changing and figuring things out. It means that I get to learn how to be OK when things are hard and to be grateful for the small, happy moments life affords every now and then.
Being 25 is tumultuous. Crazy hard. But it’s just the beginning.