As of this writing, I’m staring down the barrel of my late twenties.
Now, a lot of my friends will point out — if we’re talking strictly ‘mid’ in its purest form — my being 25-going-on-26 already qualifies as ‘late’. And here is where I will usually moan and guffaw and roll around in denial for a good ten minutes, ticking off on each finger all the reasons why no, it doesn’t work like that. Being dear friends who have seen me in much worse states, they usually nod along, pacifying me while side-eyeing each other in exasperation.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve got six months left.
Semantics aside, there is something particularly prickly about turning 26. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m now closer to my 10-year high school reunion than I am to my high school graduation. Maybe it’s because I recently forgot who was my Geography 102 professor and spent a solid hour on my alma mater’s website trying to remember the name of geography-man-with-beard-who-consistently-wore-flip-flops-to-lecture (shout out to Professor Aagesen!).
But maybe it goes a bit beyond generic nostalgia and early-onset forgetfulness.
Your “twenties” is something that is branded as the time to figure out your uniquely branded mess. You’re a beautiful disaster and no one assumes that you have your shit even remotely together. It’s a time to experiment, to try, to fail — and most importantly — to start over and try again. Your twenties are there for you like an $8 bottle of wine and a Netflix subscription. And no one (well, almost no one) judges you for it.
But there’s a time limit. Right?
There is something about creeping closer to 30 that sets my skin on fire. It’s not about getting “old” (those are very, very heavy quotation marks, mind you). It’s more so this looming societal expectation to have a better sense of yourself and your career and your romances and your life, et al. I’ll be the first person to get up on my soapbox and berate societal assumptions and absolutions. However, when everyone around me seems to be getting a promotion or an engagement ring (or, god forbid, a real life human baby) — well, then it gets a bit harder to swallow.
The truth is, time doesn’t exist.
That is, the human concept of time as a determination of your success doesn’t exist.
Mid-twenties, late-twenties and every other age-specific milestone; they don’t exist. What do exist are the pressures that we put upon ourselves to live up to these invisible stepping-stones, involuntarily or not.
Despite the word vomit you see above, I usually pride myself on being a gal who is pretty decent at dodging the timeless Existential Crisis classics like Who Am I?, What Am I Doing?, and my personal favorite, Maybe Bangs Will Solve Everything. I’m normally the friend who talks other friends off the Quarter-Life Crisis ledge, but like any certified friend-therapist, I’m noticing I’ve been shirking my own advice.
When it really comes down to it, you’re never going to figure it out. Not completely. And maybe our twenties are our opportunity to learn how to embrace that.
Not Knowing doesn’t have to be linked with Anxiety or Self-Doubt. It can just be exactly what it is, plain and simple and without frills. I have a feeling that the minute we (read: infamous Millennials) learn to leave it alone and live our lives — even if we’re destroying Applebee’s, toppling the diamond industry and declaring the avocado as our one true splurge — then we’ll be all the more sane for it.
So, in theory, I don’t have six months left. I have the rest of my life left to shrug and say, “I have no fucking idea.”
I can’t think of anything more reassuring than that.
Here’s to 26.