My birthday is a few months away, but I’m already dreading it. I’ll be turning 25 years old, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.
I’m like a lot of millennials I know — unsure about what they’re doing in life, worried about money and love, binging on Netflix shows, and checking social media every ten minutes. I can’t help but compare myself to other people I know my age. People with kids, a great job, a house or fancy apartment. I know I’m not the only one who dreads turning 25, but I still feel lonely. It’s a cycle of emotions and habits I never pictured myself stuck in. Swirling at the center is that ominous number 25.
Why is that number so scary?
Maybe it’s because it marks the halfway point between my blissful 20-year-old self and the unknown self I’ll be at 30. Maybe it’s because I believe I haven’t accomplished anything in life, and I never will. Maybe it’s because I feel so much older than 25. Maybe it’s societal pressure telling me to hit certain milestones by the time I’m 25. Maybe it’s just thinking of the existential crisis to come when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake, if I’ll even have one.
But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I realize that I shouldn’t let a number fill me with such fear. After all, I survived turning 24, 23, 22 and 21. What’s so different about turning 25?
I think society teaches us that we must stick to a certain timeline in order to succeed at life. College, job, marriage, kids — we have to hit these milestones at specific ages agreed upon by society. Straying from this timeline, or creating our own, is frowned upon. We’re looked on as failures or deviants for choosing differently.
So what if someone gets married at 21? So what if someone doesn’t get their college degree until they’re 33? So what if someone doesn’t have kids until they’re 40?
I shouldn’t be terrified of turning 25, but I am, and that’s okay. It’s a mixture of fear for the past, and excitement for the future. It’s just a number, and I can do whatever I want with it. And you can, too.