For much of the past year, I’ve been talking about the quarter-life crises that I regularly experience. Whether it’s determining whether to move (or when) or how to make friends after college, 24 hasn’t always been easy. However I turn 25 today, and I can honestly say that I feel more sure of myself and confident about the path I want to pursue. I know what I like and what I want and feel (slightly) more clear about how to get there.
See, I never handle the end of a year (or year of life) well. I get obsessed with analyzing what I’ve learned during that past year, and making sure I write it down so I remember it when I’m 80. I want to make sure that I start and end the new/old years correctly. I also constantly think, “This is the last time I will go to the bathroom before the new year/before I turn ____. This is the last time I will talk on the phone.” I’m completely insane, I know. But I place a lot of weight on milestones and holidays and want to make sure I do them right. I guess it’s not a bad thing, but it gets a little ridiculous. I mean, New Year’s Eve is usually at least slightly disappointing, and does anyone ever actually feel older when they wake up on their birthday?
However, I have to say that I was much more low key about turning 25. I even forgot my birthday was coming up until yesterday. I spent my last hours of 24 by myself (Chris was with a friend) just writing, participating in a group text chat with my high school pals (love it), and watching TV. I was completely content with this, and didn’t feel compelled to have some massive celebration full of monumental moments.
If I’ve learned anything during my 24th year of life that I would like to share with the class, it’s this:
- Trust your gut: People will try to get you on board with their plans for your life. They will try to tell you why your dreams are dumb or unreasonable, or why their idea is a better one. Don’t listen to them. No one wants to wake up at age 80 and regret not pursuing their true passion.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect: Sure, it looks like everyone else has the perfect job/boyfriend/living situation. Maybe part of it really is great, but there are probably things going on that you have no idea about. They may have a rocky relationship with their siblings or have no idea what they want to do with their life. Don’t spend your time wishing you were someone else.
- You still have time: Sometimes I get this frantic feeling, as if there’s a clock counting down. To what? I have no idea. But it feels like I’m about to miss a deadline. Even though this is probably going to be a persistent feeling throughout my twenties, I really want to try to enjoy the moment and not feel that nondescript sense of pressure to rush through things. Get a new job when you want to. Get engaged when you want to. Get a dog when you want to. You’re not competing against anyone.
- Appreciate what you have: It’s so easy to feel like you’d be content if only ______ happened. If only you lost weight. If only you were in a relationship. If only you lived somewhere else. In reality, there will always be an “if only” and if you spend your time waiting for every tiny detail to fall into place, your time will run out.
- Know that you can be alone: Whether it’s going to a yoga class by yourself or moving to a new place, know that you can handle it on your own. Sure it might be better and more fun with a friend or a significant other, but understand that you are strong enough to tackle things solo.
- Be happy: Life is short. Don’t worry about stupid drama or regrets or fears. Focus on the positives and make the current situation that you have in front of you the best that it can be.
What are some of the most important things you’ve learned or realized over the past year?