I recently filled out a questionnaire and one of the questions it asked was “What age do you feel?” Rather than your standard, “How old are you?” As I looked down the options which ranged from early teens to late fifties, an overwhelming confusion came over me.
If the question would’ve been your usual “How old are you?” I wouldn’t have overthought my answer into this article. But the idea of relating age to a sentiment instead of a fraction of time turned my brain into a whirlwind of questions.
What characteristics define a 25-year-old? What makes you feel 17 or 23? What feelings are associated with what age? Where is Taylor Swift when you need her? She must be like thirty now.
When I was nine, I thought seventeen was the perfect age. When I was seventeen, I couldn’t wait to be eighteen, and when I turned twenty-one, I wanted to move to Neverland, and stay there forever. In fact, when I turned twenty-two I called it my second annual 21st birthday, that’s how adamant I was about staying ‘Forever 21’. I was definitely not ‘Feeling 22.’ But of course, I couldn’t possibly move to Neverland, and in the fall of 2017, I turned twenty-five.
But did I feel twenty-five? Was I ready for what being twenty-five meant (and what did it mean anyways)? I still lived in my room that I’ve lived in since I was twelve, so, how could I? And if I wasn’t ready for twenty-five was it because I still felt like that twelve-year-old girl who moved from a big city to a small town in the suburbs? I kind of remember her but not really.
Why didn’t I feel ready? I guess it’s the notion that surrounds the big twenty-five. When my mom was twenty-five, she was married with two kids yet here I was at twenty-five still living with my mother, un-wed, childless and on top of all that career-less. But is that what I wanted for twenty-five – to be married with children? Absolutely not. Still, since it’s what most people my age were venturing off to, it kind of made me feel like something was wrong with me. Shouldn’t I want this more? Why don’t I?
Then I thought maybe my personality just won’t do for twenty-five. Like Alice in Wonderland, I’ve always gone along my merry way without ever stopping to reason and when I was younger with no responsibilities this seemed to work just fine for me. But now that I was turning twenty-five I worried maybe my care-free ways would work against me.
At 20, I didn’t need to decide on anything. I had plenty of time to be fickle and make mistakes because I could afford a few years before I really had to have my sh*t together. But naively I thought it would automatically happen when I turned 25. I thought I would feel like a grown-up. But still not having a career and living at my mom’s house made me feel less like an adult and more like a teenager in Neverland who has overextended her stay.
Most importantly I felt like I was running out of time to make mistakes. I felt like I had to decide what I wanted my adult life to look like right there and then, so I did. But it didn’t match up to where I actually was in life, nowhere close, to be honest.
After the initial sight of disappointment, I realized one thing, probably the most important thing – I was happy. I had been stressing myself out because I wasn’t where the average twenty-five-year-old should be, that I overlooked and downplayed the fact that I was actually pretty satisfied with where I was in life and where I was heading. Of course, I wasn’t completely happy with every aspect of my life, but who is at 25? Or any age for that matter.
So, what does twenty-five feel like? It feels like it’s just the beginning.
Honestly you realize how much time you actually have to make mistakes and that’s the rest of your life. Mistakes are stepping stones in your journey. So, you must make them at any given time, if you want to learn and be great at whatever it is you are trying to achieve.
You have a much stronger sense of who you are as a person, and even if you don’t know what you want, you certainly know what you don’t want. All those things you put up with in your early twenties with Richard, and Alex, you’ll be able to tell from a mile away that James is cut from the same thread and you won’t invest your time or energy into him. You won’t feel bad about it either.
You will not feel bad for choosing yourself first, for choosing what feels right for you. Optimism and self-worth are definitely two things that have made a complete 360 for me from 18 to 25. It’s silly to think I wanted to be twenty-one forever and stagnant my growth in these areas.
At twenty-five it’s okay to still be figuring out what you want out of life, be that in relationships, careers, puppies, breakfast you name it.
Know that nothing happens by accident and you’re exactly where you need to be even if it doesn’t feel that way now.
Steve Jobs said it best when he said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”