There’s something about turning twenty-five that feels like a life event for many people. The internet is littered with articles and blogs about the, “quarter life crisis” and, “The things I learned/must learn by twenty-five”, and at first I thought the topic of making it half way through you twenties (the worst decade) was overhyped,and a bit dramatic. Now, just shy of a month away from my own twenty-fifth birthday I understand a bit more about why it’s such a big deal and to some extent, a small life event.
Entering into your late twenties there is little to no dispute that you are, in fact, an adult. That’s why turning twenty-five feels like a progress report on how you’re doing so far in life, “C- in relationships, B+ in friendships, F in financial security”. It feels like the things you need to work on before thirty are bolded and underlined and the overwhelming sense of urgency and, “oh shit!” is high.
For me, the big two, five has become a time of self reflecting on my early twenties and sub conscience insights that have helped me understand myself more as a person. For most, hitting your mid-twenties is a never ending back and fourth between sheer panic and grateful acceptance of what’s to come next. On one hand you feel disappointed, frustrated, and stressed about where you on in life and how that compares to the way you pictured early adulthood to be. You think about how life as an adult feels more exhausting than anyone explained and you truly begin to understand and appreciate how easy being a child and teenager was in comparison.
On the other hand you find yourself feeling happy, proud and self-assured in who you’ve become since entering your twenties. The innocence of not knowing what you don’t know that made you so starry eyed at 21 has faded some and in it’s place is the maturity of realizing what you don’t know, and holding tightly to what you do.
If you are lucky you will have spent upwards of the past five years experiencing things you thought you understood but didn’t – things like love, loss, friendship and disappointment. If you are truly living your life, the ages between twenty and twenty-five should be filled with everything that makes the foundation of who you are as an adult. There are, of course, hard moments filled with angst and growth during this time, but there’s something to be said about trying to accomplish a hard thing only to realize you are actually accomplishing the hard thing.
Like when you were younger and learned to ride a bike without training wheels. Many of us struggled to get the feel for it while we yelled for parents, “not to let go” incase you lost balance and fell. Then without noticing you’re doing it, you are riding the bike and no one is hanging on it’s just you powering yourself – going in the direction you want to go in.
That’s what your early twenties feels like; a constant struggle for independence while operating something you’ve never had to before. You try to wear safety gear and cling to your parents, but in the end you have to learn to ride on your own. Twenty-five is an important marker in adulthood because it’s the first time most people realize they’re riding the bike all by themselves. That the “grown-up” part of life we’re so scared of at first has somehow become the thing that we’re doing instead of the thing we’re trying to do.
When I turned twenty-one people would always tell me that each birthday would become less and less about reflecting from year to year and more about the five or ten years in between big mile stones. This makes me worry about how much faster time feels as I get older; whole years seem to zoom past in a way I had only wished about at fifteen or sixteen. However, with the age of marriage and parenthood becoming, on average, later in life I still feel how impossibly young and very possibly stupid, I am.
Turing twenty-five is not a crisis, it’s a vantage point where you can see all sides of your life, your past and your future and decide which path you want to take next. While you are not at your final destination, you’ve learned most definitely to enjoy the journey.