I’m feeling a little weirded out by all of the birthday blog posts I’ve been seeing lately. Not because birthdays weird me out (well, they kind of do), but because my birthday was last week. What are the chances that a majority of bloggers I follow have late May birthdays?
I hadn’t planned on writing a birthday-themed post. But since my birthday was kind of a big one–25–I thought it would only be appropriate for me to document a few of my thoughts as a person who is officially now a quarter of a century old.
How I feel about Birthdays
I’ve never been a big fan of birthdays. I am so nostalgic and cling so hard to the past that it’s difficult for me to get older, even if I’m not really that old. I remember being sad around my 10th birthday because I’d never be a single-digit age again. I was never excited for the milestone birthdays, and I think part of this is because I was one of the oldest kids in my grade. I wasn’t trying to catch up to my friends; instead I was one of the first who could drive and drink legally. This means I got to drive my friends around and wait until they turned 21 to have fun at bars. Being the oldest in my grade always made me feel, well, old.
And now I’m 25! How is this possible? Twenty-five is the age of professional athletes, talented musicians and Hollywood actors. Twenty-five is the age of married couples and parents. Twenty-five is the age of people who are out of their confusing early 20s and on-track with their careers and lives in general.
I’m none of those things. How can I be a respectable 25-year-old? I still feel like a child. At this point in the game, I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel like an adult.
Why turning 25 is scary… but not that scary
Whenever I’m waiting for something, I think about how far into the future it is and use that same time frame to think about where I was that long ago in the past. For example, if I were looking forward to something that will happen two months from now, I’d think about what I was doing two months ago. The result is always, “Wow, that feels like just yesterday! Time is going to fly.”
I find myself playing the same game with age. Five years from now I’ll be 30. Five years ago I was 20. Twenty? That was five years ago? I feel like I’m 20 right now! When I’m 30 I want to know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to have a good job in a field I’m interested in. I want to be married. I want to be starting a family. That is a lot to do in five years. And some of it (mostly the family part) is really scary for me to think about doing right now. I can’t imagine being ready for it five years down the road.
But after really thinking about who I was at age 20, I realized how much had happened in those five years. I turned 19 at the end of my senior year of high school. That means at the age of 20 I was finishing up my first year of college. I was incredibly naive (even more so than I am now) and still coming out of my shell. From age 20 to 25, I grew up quite a bit. I gained a great deal of confidence, established a relationship with a guy I can now see myself marrying, and learned quite a few life skills that seem like common sense today.
Even though we can rarely feel ourselves growing, it’s crazy to look back and think about how much we develop over time. It’s like being a kid and not noticing that your arms and legs have gotten longer until your parents make that tick mark on the wall, proving that you have actually grown several inches.
The aging phenomenon
I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena that started in my 20s. The older I get, the younger my parents get. This is not physically possible, I know, yet it seems to happen every year. When you’re a kid, your parents seem like the oldest people in the world. It will be eons before you’re that age. The difference between 35 and 4 is infinite. But the difference between 56 and 25 is more palpable. You know that those years go by quickly. You’re reaching the age your parents were when they began raising you. You realize that you’ll be where they are now in no time.
Why I’ll survive
I thought I’d be more upset about turning 25 than I am, but I think it helps that I’m no longer the oldest of my peers. I have friends now who are closer to 30 or even past that mark that seems so life-changing. I can see that these people are still alive and doing well. They aren’t necessarily leading the 30s lifestyle that comes with a family and a dream job, which actually takes off some of the pressure for me to be at that point in my life at that age.
I think part of growing up is realizing that the cookie cutter lifestyle is a myth. We think we know what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives at different ages, but in reality these “checkpoints” are different for everyone. If we all just focus on doing what seems right for us rather than what seems right, this whole adult thing won’t be so bad.