My good friend Emily (who I often call Emmers, Shmems, Shmemmers, y’know) came over tonight for beers and lovely chat. She was a bit down for a number of reasons that add up, as reasons tend to do, so we talked through it. I found myself talking through some of my own problems, and I realized how eerily similar our problems are.
My problems break down into a few basic categories:
-Finding a job that makes me happy and not crazy
-Relationship turmoil (not lovey relationships; rather, friendships, family relationships, professional networking, etc.)
-The beautifully cliche question “What’s the meaning of life?”
These all sound a bit trivial when I write them out. Everyone encounters issues like this on a daily basis, why should my worries be any different? Truth is, they are no different than any blog you would read. Yet, they are my problems, and I am passionately engaged in them.
After Emily left, I thought about what it means to turn 25. I can only imagine that someone older would scoff and say “25! You can’t possibly be worried about 25! Wait until you’re (insert their age here), then you can worry!” But to me, there’s something significant about 25.
This year, we’re all turning part of a century.
I am turning 25.
My grammy turned 75 in February.
My mom is turning 50 in August.
We’re three generations, perfectly aligned in the “seasons” of life.
[For the record, I absolutely hate the allegory of seasons defining one’s life. What bullshit that an older person is in their “winter”-dude, when winter comes in many literary stories, it’s often about action and battle (think Game of Thrones for a modern reference.) Old age should be the age of kicking all the ass and destroying the walls.]
When my grandmother was 25, she was married with three children. She was a full time mother, my grandfather was a full time news anchor, and she owned a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright house in a lovely suburb.
When my mother was 25, she was raising little me. I was about 4 months old when she turned a quarter of a century. She was hauling ass through law school, attending school full time while pregnant and taking very little time off to have me.
I am going to be 25. I live in an apartment mostly paid for by my family. I am working on a degree but am terrified of completing it. I spend most of my time daydreaming while painting or sewing my costume for the comic book convention. I am engaged but want to get married in bright yellow, polka-dotted ballerina shoes, standing next to a giraffe (the giraffe will not come true, alas!) I have only ever had one full-time job, and it ate most of my soul. It took a while for it to grow back from the remaining pieces.
This is a weird age. Every time I go on Facebook, I’m reminded of everyone’s adulthood. Many of my friends are married, and many more whom I’m not as close to anymore look like they spent the price of a small house on a one-day wedding. Where the…where did they get this money?
What’s even weirder is these couples are starting to have children. And they’re planned children. Joyous, celebratory children. They have families, they have houses, and, scariest of all, they have plans.
I guess my point is, I don’t feel adult.
I’ve been told this is a good thing. But I’m not always so sure. What’s my plan? I can talk about theoretical plans all I want, but I still don’t know. I want to teach. Okay, but where? Who will hire me, and, more importantly, will I enjoy working there? I want to travel. But I need money to travel. Will I get this internship in London at the last minute? Will I take it if I do? James and I are getting married, probably next year. And somehow, marriage fills me with the least amount of stress. That’s an easy one. A no brainer.
But getting married doesn’t make me grown up. It makes me solidified to my partner, and that’s a choice I’ve known I’d make since I was 19. No big deal. I knew I wanted to marry the adorable bastard within the first month of dating.
So big deal, I get married next year. I haven’t changed. And in November, I’ll get my Master’s. No big deal. I’ve been going to grad school for two years, I’ve earned it.
And okay, someday soon, probably around the time I get married, I’ll probably get a teaching job. And it might be hard, but what’s easy? No big deal.
And someday, Jimmy and I will have a kid. We’ll never everevereverever be fully prepared for it, but it’ll be okay. No big deal.
And when Jimmy and I make enough money, we’ll travel anywhere we want. I’ll be a teacher, I can spend the summer in London if I want. Maybe I’ll find a super sweet temp job in the summers in London or something equally wonderful. No big deal.
I bet I won’t feel adult or grown up.
Oh shit, maybe that’s it. Maybe I’ll never feel adult, because being an adult isn’t about feeling like one, it’s about making the decisions you always wanted to but never had the money or time for because you were in high school or college.
Did I just discover my own personal epiphany?
In truth, probably not. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and be the exact same.
Epiphanies often don’t work like they do in books; it seems they seep over you, like syrup.
But maybe, when I turn 25, I’ll look back on what I’ve learned thus far and use it to keep moving forward.