5 Things I Learned At 27 About Growing Up

As my 28th birthday approaches, I look back on five things I’ve learned in the past year.

1. Not every year will be great or memorable.

Most of my 20s were filled with ups and downs, but each year at least one life changing event happened. I’ll always remember those years in terms of the year I…graduated from college, got a dog, broke up with my college boyfriend, traveled, finally got an awesome job. But when I look back 27, I’m not sure I’ll remember it for anything in particular. Maybe I’ll recall the “summer I went to way too many concerts” or the year I gained ten pounds during the polar vortex. But ten years from now, I’ll probably struggle to remember what the hell I was doing with myself.

2. Growing up doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone.

This has been the year where the last of my friends and acquaintances are getting married. The rest are on their second or third kid (or their first divorce.) Big city dwellers will scoff at marriage before 30, but that’s just how it works here. I’ve been in a committed relationship for years and our life is just fine without marriage and babies. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t grown up. My job situation may not be stable, I don’t own a house, and I still won’t stop procrastinating when it comes to scheduling doctor’s appointments — but I am more settled in my life now than ever before. To me, growing up means I’ve stopped moving twice a year, I can keep my kitchen clean most of the time and I’ve learned not to drink an entire bottle of wine by myself.

3. Things get harder.

This is the first year I’ve really noticed that my body is not the same as it was when I was 21. I now need to make room in my schedule for hangovers because I can’t just chug a bottle of water and go on with my day like I used to. Losing weight is no longer as simple as eating salads for a few days. Speaking of salads, kale is now a major food group. Just looking at chocolate gives me heartburn and please, please don’t even talk to me about tequila shots.

4. Age doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship.

We spend most of high school and college with people around our same age. This year I’ve discovered that age means less and less when it comes to the people I surround myself with. Many of my friends are younger, but we share specific interests that bond us. Other friends are closer to 40 than 20, but we have similar outlooks and hobbies that provide a base for great friendships. My younger friends keep me fun, and my older friends are a great source of advice, since they have already gone through the things I’m dealing with now.

5. Saying goodbye to my mid-20s is terrifying.

My boyfriend and I argue about whether 27 is considered mid or late 20s. I think it’s late 20s, but he says it’s not. Either way, I have spent much of this year thinking about how close I am to 30 — my scary age. Before you think I’m self-absorbed and dramatic, let me explain why turning 30 scares me. The older I get, the older the people I love get. This year I have seen many of my family members go through health scares that naturally happen as people age. And bad things are happening to people MY age — I’ve had a friend diagnosed with cancer, and another whose spouse suddenly died on vacation. The idea of death and losing people has been a constant, terrifying presence in my mind. I have this ridiculous notion that as long as I’m in my 20s, nothing bad like that will happen to me. Of course bad things happen at all ages, but in my mind, the older you get, the more of a reality that becomes. TC mark

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