On turning 25 and other silly things to worry about.
I’m turning 25 in a few days.
And for some reason, I can’t stop thinking about it.
A few years ago, birthdays were a reason to get excited, plan an elaborate shindig (yes, I said “shindig” — I’m already sounding like an old fart and we’ve only just begun) and dance to whatever teeny-bopper music is hot on the charts (I said “teeny-bopper” — help.)
Don’t get me wrong — I am still very excited about turning 25, but it’s a bittersweet feeling that goes along the lines of, I’d like to have a pretty cake with candles, but can we celebrate in quiet, low-key happiness please?
When I was 10 years old, 25 seemed ancient to me.
So ancient that I hadn’t given much thought to my life-goals and was still under the delusion that I could and would be a doctor. I knew at a young age that I wanted to save lives and help other people and to the 10-year-old girl growing up in a somewhat conservative, stick-to-the-status-quo community, becoming a doctor seemed to be the best and only option.
At 13, I decided that maybe the sciences weren’t my forte and perhaps I could pursue life as a renowned author. I had just written and published my first book and was feverish with dreams of becoming the next Rowling or Gaiman, picturing life in a small, bright apartment littered with books. I still think of that apartment sometimes — potted plants, a bright painting in a corner and piles of dusty, devotedly-read novels on the carpet.
At 16, I suffered with insecurities that automatically befriend the fat, funny friend (aka me) and I’d firmly decided that I didn’t need a partner to hold my hand and that a life of experiences, adventures, good books and colourful Kodak moments (Aha! Another fuddy-duddy phrase!) were all I needed. I was still hell-bent on being a doctor, setting my sights on a career as a surgeon, now that romantic entanglements and candle-lit dinners were far far away from my mind. I had the usual dreams; aiming for the tried-and-tested A/Ls-to-University-to-A-Stable-Job-to-I-Might-Just-Get-A-Tattoo-Somewhere-Along-The-Way.
At 20, I’d lost 30kgs and cut my hair short enough that people paid enough attention to ask why and suddenly, a life of hard work and academic accomplishments were overpowered with attention — something I had never dealt with and didn’t like. To this day, I find compliments terribly awkward and will babble senselessly at anyone who has anything nice to say to me.
I made new friends, left some behind, spent hours studying for finals in the library, sipping coffee sweet enough to kill someone, bunked class to eat hot dogs at 6:00 pm (who even does that?) and progressively felt sharper around the edges. Conversations revolved around “What can we do next?” and I found myself thinking about a house and husband at 25, maybe with a puppy and then, well, the proverbial bundle of joy.
Such thoughts were slapped away immediately — I hadn’t found love and wasn’t sure I really needed it so the white-picket fence was run-over by the constant love of traveling, making new friends and reading as much as I could. During this time, found alternate-music, water-colours and spent an unhealthy amount of time bashing short-stories on my grandfather’s old typewriter.
Turning 25 isn’t a big deal.
For some, it isn’t even much of an age and I predict the scoffing and eye-rolling in response to this. I know people in their 30s who own cars and far too many children, batch-mates who are married and others setting fire to whichever corporate ladder they choose to climb. I have friends who are no longer part of this rat race and friends who wish they could follow the same fate. So when you take all of that into consideration, 25 really isn’t much of an age. As my grandmother would say “You act like a 10 year old anyways.”
Yet I can’t stop myself from looking back at how strange, unpredictable, wonderful and rewarding the years have been.
Several downs, some unforgettable ups, mistakes made and repeated, lessons learned then forgotten. At 25, I’m in a place I never dreamed I would be. Gone are the day-dreams of sipping champagne at a swanky restaurant, or the exciting visions of scaling Machu Pichu with a disgruntled llama in the background. They’ve been replaced with new things. Maybe I’ll write about them someday.
At 25, I’m still not quite as jaded as I ought to be.
My little bubble of naive sunflowery happiness still revolves around me, with a few cracks here and there but nothing too harsh, nothing too jarring. I still make wishes at 11:11, cry at movies and appreciate unpredictable surprises. My feelings fall apart over insignificant things and yet I know how to pick myself up after each fall. I understand which battles are worth my effort and remember which words I ought to hold back. I’ve learned to appreciate people at face value and I know when to give up on them too.
I could go on.
I’m turning 25 soon and I’m happy with the person I’ve become.
I’m no longer blind to my own faults but I’m better aware that the flaws of others no longer reflect my own.
I don’t think I’m complete yet. There is more to go. Or maybe that’s the perfectionist in me talking. Who knows.
And I’m looking forward to it.
I hope get to share cake with my friends soon.