Becoming 25 years old

At 20 years old

Being 25 freaks me out. I had been thinking about my age, how 25 will soon become 30. A friend joked that nothing we do from now on will be impressive because that 9 year-old can code and this 20 year-old is a VC. Fear settled in as I took that joke to heart. Yet I’m comforted knowing I’ll now qualify for the 25+ year-old Enterprise car rental discount.

At 25 years old, I have accomplished a lot. My confusion was where do I go from here? Recently I was asked “what do I envision for my next 5 years”, and I struggled to answer because I was already living my dream.

Twenty-five feels so much different than 23, yet it was only 2 years apart. At 23, graduation and my purpose confused me. At 25, friends and I shared war stories of being burnt out. We shared this sense of feeling alone, even though our friends were only a text away. Yet we enjoy our couch on the weekends, rather than the dancefloors we once frequented. We find companionship in our fellow workaholics, as we sat alongside each other after-hours working on our “side projects”. Millennials in metropolitan areas are ambitious, and Silicon Valley is aggressive. It’s difficult to take a break because staying relevant means putting in the time.

Yet relevance ignites comparison. My bad habit was the comparison game. I’m ambitious, alpha, aggressive, and into alliterations. Surrounded myself with incredibly impressive people, where I became inspired and driven. As they say: “You’re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With”. However, I reminded myself to be a first rate version of me and not a second rate version of someone else. I embraced my past achievements to set the benchmarks for what I desired to accomplish next. Learning to allow others’ achievements to be an inspiration rather than an evaluation of my own self-worth.

Comparing my own achievements had influenced how I prioritized my next ambitions. As millennials, our own ambitions had driven us to want everything, yet prioritizing is critical for success. Not leaving a moment for us to breathe and reflect if our current ambitions is a rat race or a pursuit of our dreams. I see the desolate dating scene in San Francisco, supported by a distracted interest in pursuing own ambitions. We rarely carved out time for sleeping or dating. Often forgetting to truly live life. Now I’m learning to live in the moment and escape into nature. Techies in Silicon Valley are constantly planning two steps ahead, yet realizing the recovering affects of nature. Regular hiking has become the desirable goal shared among many.

Setting goals had become my daily task. My goals must be what I value, not what society has highlighted with praise. I want my next wave of goals to wow me, to inspire, so now I dive into my ambitions that had been suppressed by fear. Today at 25, I know what I want to accomplish in the next 5 years.

Sydney Lai enjoys startup ecosystems. Follow her to explore.