Today I turn 25. It’s a bit of a weird one for me and carries more existential dread than I thought it would. 25 isn’t really a birthday that comes with a big celebration the way a 21st, 30th, 40th, etc. would but I think on a more internal level, turning 25 is a big deal.
It’s the point where you can no longer run away from being in your “mid twenties” and is the bridge between young adult and actual real adult. While I think I’ve achieved a lot in my time here, something makes me think I should have achieved more. I think this purely stems from my competitive nature and the inescapable feeling of needing to compare yourself to other people at your age.
It’s not something I’ve let myself get bummed out over too much thankfully but when you see stories about how Steve Jobs took Apple public and made millions of dollars when he was 25, and how Jennifer Lawrence had all the Hunger Games movies under her belt and an Oscar at the same age, it’s hard not to get in your head a bit about it.
This, paired with the fact that I’ve just been made redundant from my first ‘real’ job and am now properly unemployed for the first time since I started working in a garden center at 16, casts a weird scary shadow over me. Or so it did.
Every year on the lead up to my birthday, I start to reflect on the year that’s been and try to imagine what I’ll do over the next year. This year more so because 25 is such a rounded number, it’s had me looking on further. Where will I be when I’m 30, or 50? What have I achieved since the last rounded age at 20? Where did I expect I’d be at this point? There’s a lot of questions.
As I dug deeper into my psyche I hit a point where I got a bit mad at myself. Not because I’m not turning 25 a millionaire like Steve Jobs, or because I don’t have a shelf of accolades like Jennifer Lawrence. I got mad because I realised I’m completely missing the point of my yearly reflection.
Why am I focusing on what I don’t have rather than focusing on what I do? Why am I focusing on people who I’ve never even met and picking apart their accomplishments and not focusing on the people I have in my life?
This switch flipped with me on a recent weekend away with friends. Nothing in particular triggered it but as I found myself (admittedly a couple of drinks in) being present in that moment surrounded with people that I love, it just clicked. I already have everything I need right now.
Of course, I would still love all the money and achievements but I’m only 25. I have literally only been a legal adult for 7 years (and 4 of those were spent between my Leaving Cert and College). The fact that I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and people around me who love me is a lot more than most. The answer to every question that was bogging me down on the run-up to turning 25 was gratitude.
I’m very much at a crossroads in my life right now and my fear has turned to excitement. I’m in a position that I can reevaluate everything that’s led me to where I am professionally and use what I’ve learned so far and use it to send me in any direction that I want.
The world is my oyster and that Forbes 30 under 30 list is looking tasty. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m going to do next but because the whole world has basically shut down, I have time to figure it out.
That, mixed with the gratitude of having who I have around me has me on a new level of life fulfillment. And if I find myself back here in another 5 years without achieving exactly what I want, I’ll know that with good people around me, I’ve already won. Anything else is merely a bonus.