I think I’d consider myself an old soul, but recently as I’m approaching the milestone birthday that everyone refers to as your quarter-life crisis, the poetic sounding ‘old soul’ has been translated to an exhale of disappointment that utters, “I feel SO OLD.” Age is all relative. Yes, a 14 year-old would probably consider me old, or at least think of me as an adult (which I am), yet a 34 year-old will tell me “Nah, you’re still a baby, you’ve got all your late twenties ahead of you.” So why do I (and many others) let a number consume me?
Yes, it’s weird to think that I’ve spent a quarter of a century living and breathing, but I think that’s exactly what’s consuming us. We think about all of this time, this quarter of a century that we’ve spent here doing whatever we’ve been doing and whether or not it’s amounted to anything. We approach this threshold and while we’re crossing it, our heads are stuck in the past. We’re walking, but it’s as if we’re walking backwards, so we’re blinded to what’s ahead and everything that’s happened becomes open for dissection.
And out of everything that’s happened in that 25 years, we ruminate on the could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’s so deeply, that we forget to acknowledge the wonderful things that were.
We self-reflect until it basically destroys us. And self-reflection can be a wonderful thing, but not when you’re unforgiving, not when you can’t let go of the mistakes you’ve made and spend all of your time feeling sorry for yourself. That’s not the kind of self-reflection I want to be having right now as this birthday approaches, or any time of my life.
I don’t want to feel old because I no longer live alone in a tiny city apartment with a ‘kitchen’ the size of my pinky. I don’t want to feel old because I have a dog and live with my boyfriend and crawl into bed on weeknights at 10 pm. I don’t want to feel old because I enjoy a good book and a warm fire and comfy matching pajamas. Why should any of that make me feel old? That’s just who I am. I’m getting older, that’s life. Of course I’m not the same exact person I was 3 years ago. I’m still me, but the things I do, the things I enjoy doing, have changed, and that’s the thing, I ENJOY doing them. I genuinely enjoy my life and I’m not afraid to sound conceited or pretentious when I admit that.
Because as the day gets closer when 25 will be a number I say much more than 24, I realize the one thing that I continuously want from life is happiness, and I certainly know what it feels like to not have it, to endlessly search for it in places it doesn’t exist, and the number of years I have spent on this earth have nothing to do with that. My age doesn’t change my desire to be happy, to be healthy, to live life authentically as myself, and to spend it with people who appreciate that.
So I’m going to stop telling people, “I feel SO old.” And I’m not going to let this birthday scare me. I’m not going to allow any birthday to scare me, any age or number. I’m going to remind myself that every birthday, every year that passes I should be thankful for. Even if the year was complete shit. Even if it was a year when happiness was something that was particularly difficult for me to find, I’ll remember that that’s okay.
That it’s okay to have a sucky few months when you’re sad or angry or heartbroken. It’s okay to look back and think that a decision you made probably wasn’t the best one. It’s okay to feel anxious about how another year has passed and you feel like you’ve been standing still. I’ll remember that all of that’s okay, but I’ll also remember to look forward with hope rather than fear. I’ll remember to not walk down the path that fear sets out for me. I’ll make my own way.