Monday, January 19, 2009

2. 5.

I can’t believe I’m twenty-five. A quarter century. As always with birthdays, it seems like a big deal to the individual, whereas anyone that has past the milestone already will view it totally differently. I lament that I’m getting old....SO OLD.....which seems crazy to people who have managed to double, or triple my age tally. And though I’m aware of that perspective, I can’t grasp it any better than a 5 year old can imagine having a retirement fund. I know that someday my face will be lined with wrinkles, and my brain will be slowed by age, and I’ll look back on twenty-five as being a wee baby with a lifetime to go.

But for me, right now, I don’t see it from that angle. My only perspective is that of former years, in which this age seemed impossibly far away. Early in life, it seemed like a goal, a pinnacle of life: young enough to be beautiful and exciting, but old enough to not have to have a bedtime (one of the many things “holding me down” as a kid apparently). I remember playing Barbies as a little girl, and my characters were always in their mid-twenties, which seemed like such a glamorous age at the time. They were also always named Jennifer for some reason- I think that was an “older girl” name during a time in my life when “being older” automatically equaled “being cooler”. Having two older sisters gave me some idea of what to look forward to, but my Barbies represented a dream world all my own. Jennifer and her best friend (and roommate) Jenny lead an amazing life. They talked and laughed and took joyrides in their light pink Corvette. They changed outfits ten times a day with everything leading up to fancy dinner dates with dashing young men (often identical twins, so they could eventually have dual weddings and live in houses with a shared pool in the backyard....but I digress). The Jennifers had it made. Of course, they weren’t saddled with real world responsibilities like rent, or health insurance; the fabulousness of their life was represented by their freedom. They lived in eternal happiness. A young, fun, irresponsible, silly, spontaneous brand of happiness that I desperately wanted to experience when I grew up.

Later in life (you know, by the ripe old age of fifteen or so), my sense of reality had grown, and I now realized that there was more to life than pink dresses and handsome men. In my view, college was a necessity, as was having a career. My new dream was an updated version of my Barbie days. I plan was to go to school in Chicago (big city living!), study abroad (Italy!), have a high powered fashion career and eventually marry (by thirty?). I saw the twenty-something years as a non-stop journey of fun and adventure, not too different from my childhood view.

Now that I have actually reached the epic milestone that is twenty-five, my dreams for the future have caught up to my present. Looking back on the planned path of my life I see that some parts were pretty accurate, and some turned out wildly different than I had imagined. Did I see myself living in Pittsburgh? Absolutely not. Married at 21? Nope. Mortgage payments? Huh-uh. But leading Young Life? Sure. Traveling and living in different cities? Yes! Parts of my actual experience blow my plans out of the water. I love love love being married to Dustin (even if that came well before the 30 year mark) and I’ve had trips, jobs, apartments, and experiences that my five or even fifteen year mind couldn’t have conceived. But part of me is wistful about some of the plans I haven’t followed through on (beyond just the giant pool fantasy). It is not to say that I am regretful about any of my past, rather, it reminds me of Langtson Hughes’ ideas of a dream deferred. What happened to my childhood wishes? Are my unrealized dreams rotting? Drying out? Growing sweeter with time? Exploding?!

I suppose now is a natural time to take stock of my life, and plot out new dreams, fresh goals. I’m sure my dreams for my fiftieth year will eventually look as simplistic and naïve as my current hindsight, but isn’t that what life is about? Looking forward with an optimistic eye, full of hope and excitement for the future? What I don’t want to do is to buy into pre-conceived notions of where I “should” be by now. To be honest, I am proud and thankful for where I am now. I have accomplished a lot in my first quarter century, so I don’t feel pressure to achieve (that is, pressure beyond the constant ambitious drive that is as much a part of me as my eye color). What I am more worried about is avoiding fulfilling the “all downhill from here” prophesy. Are my young days over? Is it not “age appropriate” to be a little wild, a little reckless? In some ways I’ve been a grown up since I was little. Always full of my own ideas, taking on responsibility, shooting past preset milestones. But in my ever reaching quest for more, did I miss some sweet spots along the way? The “should” I’m concerned about is past tense: where should I have been already?

I don’t know the names of many bars in my college town. I often chose to rent a movie rather than meet up with friends on Friday nights. I’ve never backpacked in Europe. Did I miss out on what could have been my wild years of story making? Should I have spent less time studying and more time painting my face for basketball games? Should I have ducked out after graduation to tour the coast of South America? Would that have fulfilled my desires for a decade of revelry? And if so, is it too late?

But just as quickly as I say all this, I realize that there is another side to the story. I lived in New York City (twice). I’ve stayed out until four, and danced (and drank) until I could barely walk. I got engaged after a three month courtship. I’ve cried over a bad haircut. Suffice it to say, I’ve been silly, And probably still am. Though I may question it at times, I am confident that my life is going according to God’s plan (though I am known to give him a suggestion or two along the way!) He has protected me in my foolish days, and blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. I know that His ideas for me do not stop because of my age, my mistakes, or my insecurities.

I am thankful for the past, I am hopeful for the future. I am twenty-five. Whatever that means.

“It might be a quarter life crisis
or just the stirring in my soul.
Either way, I wonder sometimes
about the outcome
of a still verdictless life
Am I living it right?”

-John Mayer


  1. Happy Birthday:) That's great that you posted this because I feel/felt the same way. Turning "25" was a terrifying experience for me because I felt like it was a turning point from young to old; irresponsible to responsible; carefree to mundane; etc. I loved being in the "early" 20s (even though I had a kid at 22), but I still felt young. After 25, I just felt like every year was another step closer to I'm doomed or something.

    But my point is to hang in there. You're life isn't over and you can have the opportunity to experience so many great things. And I would suggest doing it all before kids come along because it's more difficult to backpack Europe and travel to S. America toteing around toddlers:-)

  2. For some reason 25 was really hard for me too. I just felt like early 20's were so young and now I was pushing towards 30. And now I AM 30! I can't say I feel much different- I still feel young, even though I have two kids and have few, if any, nights out on the town.

    I don't think your days of youth are over - you don't have kids so you still have a certain amount of freedom. And physically you can still do anything you want to - even if you decide you don't want to anymore, you are still capable of it.

    So I think you have plenty of time to do all that you dream...
    still waiting on pics from that 80's party!

  3. This was really inspiring for me to read. I've been 25 for 4 months and what a ride!!! You better run away screaming from 25! (i kid, i kid) I'm creating my list of things to do over the next 8 months of 25 and I've never been more excited about life. Here's to an amazing 25!