A friend recently confessed to me that she is beginning to feel anxiety about the turn of her next birthday. I’m sure this is something many people can relate to, or at the very least, we have that one relative that wears out the (terrible) joke that she’s “Turning 29… again!” My friend admitted to feeling anxious, lost in a job that’s not ideal, a lack of creative fulfillment and a general feeling of What Am I Doing With My Life.
But here’s the twist: She’s only turning 25.
I tried to help her as much as possible – I never felt weird about turning 25, and on the contrary, I’ve heard only wonderful things about how wonderful 30+ is. However, my twenties have been a rollercoaster to say the least, and I’m really only halfway through them.
I remember when I graduated from college (the first time, ha!) and felt a deep, deadening pressure because suddenly I was supposed to: support myself, find a “good job”, maybe get married (all of my friends were!), and try to be AN ADULT while having no money, unfortunate roommate situations and mediocre self-esteem, at best.
While I was 25 I hit a plateau – In school, but working a dead-end job that sucked all the life and creativity out of me, a devastating failed relationship, concern about my worth as a person capable of making anything of myself. (Why do we seek out articles and information about people in our age group who SKY ROCKET to the top of their industry, then compare ourselves to them? Why do we tell ourselves that being anything less than THE BEST WRITER/ARTIST/MUSICIAN/BLAH BLAH BLAH makes us and our work inconsequential?)
26 – year of change. Everything. All of it. It has been needed for a long time.
And now… still 26, later though, and the future shines more bright than ever. Personal interests and passions have paved paths to career opportunities that I feel like I’d been grasping at for years. All of sudden, it felt like someone placed them kindly on my lap. “Here, Jaime, you’d be good at this.” All the hours/days/weeks agonizing because my Monster.com resumes weren’t getting responses. And now look? Things fall into place. Somehow. That is what I’ve learned.
When I look onto my next milestone birthday – 30 – I don’t look at it like a fearful end to my youth. Rather, for the first time in my life it is merely a mile marker to keep me on track for what I’d have like to accomplished by then. (This coming from someone that NEVER set goals because I felt like I would end up disappointed!)
It’s not about beating yourself up if you don’t meet your goals, it’s about recognizing that cultivating greatness is a process and the end result can be a few years off, something to look forward to rather than dread. But there is room to leave things unknown, and it’s essential we do, since we don’t actually know what’s going to happen.
I have more than 3 more years until 30. I’d like to write a book. Start a business. Maybe be a mom. Give myself time to c a l m d o w n and explore what I want, need and feel, to make adjustments both in lifestyle and mental clarity to process new beginnings and weird endings (that will happen, constantly, every day!) as they come.
Birthdays can be treated like most days – like every day – and used as a chance for a fresh start, and a moment to reflect on how far we’ve already come. Wanting more for ourselves and our lives does NOT mean all we’ve done ’til now is a failure.. And that old cliche is true, as much as we’d like to cringe or roll our eyes: all of our experiences have lead us to RIGHT NOW. Let’s be thankful for them, and use them as tools for growth.
We still have so many more chances.