I’ve been grappling with what it means to be 25 in the weeks leading up to my birthday tomorrow. I feel silly that I even have feelings about it. I’ve gone around the sun one more time. I’ve done it this many times! Hooray! Nonetheless, I’ve got all the telltale signs of a self-diagnosed quarter life crisis. It’s hard to feel like turning 25 isn’t a big deal. I’m smack in the middle of my twenties and what do I have to show for it except all the preconceived expectations and notions I weigh myself down with? I usually love birthdays. Birthdays are about celebrating the year I’ve had, looking forward to whatever is ahead, going to dinner with my family, and feeding my friends chips, cupcakes, and my undying adoration/love.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little more introspective about my day of birth. With each advancing year, there is a nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps asking, “What are you doing? Where are you going? Why are you here? And why don’t you even know the answers to any of these questions? Shouldn’t you be doing something?”
I think it’s fair to say that I’m doing pretty okay as far as being a human person goes. I’m going into my fourth year in a job that I think I’m pretty good at and treats me very well. I’ve got a great, very engaged family as well as the most magnificent and glorious friends a girl could ask for. Neil is an amazingly supportive partner and one of the best people I know. I’m getting more creative work done now than I have since I was in college. I’m happy with most aspects of my life, but I still have this itch for more, but I don’t know exactly what that “more” entails.
I think it has something to do with how much the pace of my life has slowed down or how much things have stayed the same as of late. I’ve been in Boston several years now, working, living a similar life in the day to day. All through high school and university, I was nonstop and things changed constantly from what I was doing, where I was going, what I was learning, to where I needed to be. This is not the case now, and I worry that I will lose whatever edge I might have had before and that I won’t be suitable for any other kind of life than the one I have now. I still have so many hopes and dreams and aspirations for what I imagine to be a long, happy, and “successful” life. But I also worry I’ve become complacent and am no longer taking the risks I should in the name of being responsible. Sure, it pays the bills, but does it get you where you want to go? And where is it that I even think I’m going? My sense of direction has always been woefully lacking.
I don’t know what’s going to happen, which terrifies me. It’s difficult to be content with just watching and waiting to see how everything turns out. But what else is there to do? No matter how hard I try, life demands to be led. It just happens and doesn’t care a great deal about your schedule or your five year plan. Following a week filled with the death of such talented individuals (still young, I would say, in their near 70s), my eye cannot help but turn to that great and terrible specter, death. How much time do I really have? How much time do any of us have? Is any moment spent doing the “responsible” thing a moment wasted? Or am I protecting myself for later, when I’ll be able to do what I’d actually like? Is simply being happy enough? Am I being stupidly melodramatic? (Probably.)
I don’t have any answers as much as I’d like them. All I can do is try to be confident and ambitious in my own small way and hold on to hope, to paraphrase Emily Dickinson, that beautiful thing with feathers that’s never asked a damn thing of me. My fear as I get older is that life will ask me to forfeit my dreams and I don’t know if I’m willing to give them up. I worry that acceptance is synonymous with defeat. I cling to my aspirations, looking forward to whatever is next, whatever can get me to where I feel like I need to go, unsure of whether or not my desired destination is ridiculous and my dreams are silly or unattainable or, worst of all, not at all what I actually want but only what I think I want. But I suppose you’ll never know unless you give it a go and that involves a modicum of risk.
I am not sure when to start chasing that risk. Maybe when I feel like I’m not drowning in insurmountable student loan debt or when I finally have just had enough and have to run headlong toward that change. But until then, I am watching, waiting, and hoping in constant vigilance of whatever is more.
So that’s that. I am turning 25 and the rest of my life is drifting somewhere unknown and that is scary and uncomfortable. Even as I write this I’m not sure I’ve gotten to the heart of what’s bothering me, if I’ve really hashed out the worry that’s all mixed up with my love of life, love of people, my fear, anxiety, and financial quandaries. But I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and the people who have stood by me all this time and I’m looking forward to this 25th year, whatever that means and whatever it will bring.
Until next time!