As I sit here, typing away on the eve of my 25th birthday, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of apprehension and disappointment. While I’ve never really been a fan of my birthday and getting older, this one hits differently for some reason. What is it about this specific age and milestone which is making me re-evaluate my entire life and calculate my achievements… or lack thereof?
Growing up, I’ve always been a dreamer, making plans and assumptions about how my life would turn out, including all the exotic travelling I would do, the dream job I would have and the perfect man on my arm, with the crazy assumption that Future Alison will just ‘figure it out’ and get it done. Well now Future Alison is me and quite frankly, mad at Past Alison for putting such high expectations on myself! If my younger self could see me now, I’m not even sure she’d recognise me. “Surely that’s not me, still living at home, crawling up the career ladder, and not a handsome man in sight!” I’m sure she’d say.
Well you know what Past Alison, I’m not sorry. I’m just a 25 year old gal, trying to figure out this enigma that is life, which you should know is not as easy as it looks.
It’s so easy in this age of social media obsession to compare yourself and your personal accomplishments to those of people the same age as you, or younger even, who have achieved so much more. I’ve gotten caught too many times thinking to myself how I’m falling behind or considered ‘less than’ someone else more successful than I, when that’s simply not true.
As a society I feel that we’re constantly rushing. Rushing to consume as much information and content as we can, rushing to hustle as hard as we can, rushing to be our best self as quickly as possible. In doing so I think we put too much pressure on goals and the time-frame they’re completed in. While I believe it’s important to set goals and have something to work towards, there’s also no merit in achieving them faster than others. We’re all on our own journeys, so who cares who reaches their destination first?
In case any of you are also feeling the ‘quarter-life crisis’, here are some examples of people who went onto achieve incredible things well after their 20’s. For starters, celebrity chef Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at age 50, Vera Wang designed her first dress at 40, Steve Carell didn’t get anywhere in acting until he landed the role of Michael Scott in The Office at the age of 42, Arianna Huffington founded the hugely popular digital media publication, The Huffington Post at age 55 and of course Marvel legend, Stan Lee didn’t write his first hit comic, The Fantastic Four until he was 39.
At the end of the day, age is just a number. It doesn’t measure worth, or money or love or any other arbitrary entity which we associate with success. This past year of being 24 has been a rollercoaster, and truth be told I’m actually quite proud of how much I’ve done and overcome. From starting my dream internship, to working freelance and being in lock-down and creating a website, it hasn’t been half bad. It’s been a year of firsts and a year of enlightenment. I’m no longer holding myself responsible for Past Alison’s expectations, and instead I’m going to endeavour to live in the now and look forward to tomorrow.