A week ago, Saturday, I turned 25. Yep, I’ve officially made it a quarter of a century. Wow I feel old. Not like old-old but just more aware of how much time has passed. Mentally, I feel more like 18-21ish. The biggest surprise is that this is NOT how I imagined myself at 25. I always thought somehow my life would have figured itself out by now.
I was able to spend my birthday weekend up north with family celebrating my aunt and uncles 50th wedding anniversary. I was so happy to reconnect with everyone and finally get to put a face to the name since I haven’t seen most of them for over 5 years. (My family is huge, like a ‘we rent out a summer camp for reunions’ huge.) To my surprise, everyone was ready to put their party hats on for both occasions. It was the most stress-free, love-filled birthday I can remember having and I am really happy now that I hadn’t made other plans.
Getting to know you again conversations often start awkwardly and include my least favorite questions: “Do you think he’s the one?”and “Have you decided on what you want to do yet?”. I know these are meant as catch-up and easy ice-breakers because the only thing they may know about me is that I have a boyfriend and am at college age; but they always leave me feeling slightly embarrassed. Compared to my siblings, I’m the lost sheep. For example, my brother is 18, fresh out of high school and 100% committed to becoming a pilot. He already has his private pilots license and is enrolled to start classes for his so “fall back career”. So, it should come as no surprise that I, more often than not, feel a lot of pressure to be more ‘together’ than those younger then me. Being the older sister, aren’t I supposed to be wiser/more put together or something? My parents gush about how proud they are of him and know all of his plans in detail. When it comes to me, it’s the awkward ‘she’s still trying to figure it out’. I know I shouldn’t be embarrassed by this and more often then not my family always tries to encourage me saying that I have all the time in the world to figure it out. Heck, most of them are still trying.
I am fully aware that comparisons and timelines shouldn’t be applied to this portion of life. Some people don’t figure out what they really want to do until they’re 50s, if ever. I mean, my mom is currently doing an internship to finish her masters (you go mama!) so why do I feel like I have to know right now? Part of it is that I’ve grown up hearing that there is only one way to be successful: go to college at 18, graduate at 22, be settled into your career by 25. I also figured I would be more put together; not in the married-with-a-house sort of way but definitely a I’ve-got-a-4-year-degree kind of way. The problem is I really have zero idea where I want things to go. One thing I do know is that I don’t want your typical career. I’m more concerned with experiences and having an awesome skill set than putting 30+ years into a company doing the same thing day in and day out. That sounds like a sure-fire way to drive me insane.
This being said, it makes no sense why I would be worried about not having all these things figured out, especially when I don’t even want them. I guess I tend to get too wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. I stop seeing myself through God’s eyes and instead look at things through societies standards. I know times are changing, and putting off college to find what you really want to do is becoming much more accepted. I strongly urge everyone to take that extra time if they need it because student loans are like the plague of academia.
I may not know everything about having a ‘real’ college experience or even know what I want to do, but I have learned one thing in my short 25 years. That it’s never too late. The mental image of our future selves is probably always going to be quite a ways off. You never really know where Gods going to send you or where you’ll end up. The time I’ve spent reflecting on where I should be and where I could have gone has all been wasted. Holding myself up to these ridiculous standards isn’t going to help me plot the next point on my life-map any faster.
“Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can.”
I came across this quote about a year ago and it really resonated with me. During the past few years I have been incredibly hard on myself, always trying to jump to the worst conclusions about my life before someone else did. In the end I wasn’t saving myself from disappointing others, I had just created this mental cage of never being good enough. I still fall into this pattern almost daily but now that I’m aware of it, I can work on trying to be nicer to myself.
I’m sure you’ve all heard that before you can truly be loved you must first love yourself. By branding myself a failure I was doing the exact opposite. I had unknowingly put a stop on developing my life any further because I thought the damage had been done. Thinking about this now makes all those hours of worrying seem silly because there are quite a few 25 year spans to yet happen in my life. I shouldn’t let the first one get me down.
I hope that through my struggles you guys can relate and see that the problem isn’t always what we think it is. For years I blamed everyone except for myself, now that I’m older I realize how naive I had been. If I had realized this sooner, I would have saved myself years of being overly self-conscious. Don’t wait for a quarter of a century to pass you, like I did. Try to look at the future, your future, and remember that it doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s.
Hugs & Kittens,