So…. today is my birthday!!
If you know me, you know that I love my birthday. My birthday is my day, and I eat up every second of it.
Another fact about me is that my summer birthday has meant I’ve always been younger than my peers. I had my 6th birthday party after Kindergarten, I was the last one to get my driver’s license, but hey, at least when I turned 21 all my friends could come with me to the bar, even though I had missed all their bar shenanigans during junior year of college.
I’ve always wanted life to speed up. I wanted to be the same age as everyone else, to prove I belonged and was mature just like them.
So all these left out feelings of having to wait so long to catch up to everyone else’s age has meant that I often fudge a little. No, I never lie and say I’m older than I am, but starting around mid-April, if you asked me my age, I often opt for “I’m almost [insert age I am turning 3 months later here]” rather than just saying my current number.
For the past 3 months, to fit with tradition, I’ve been saying “I’m almost 25.”
Well today, I am 25. And for whatever reason, 25 hits a little different.
For the first time in my life, I don’t really feel my age. I couldn’t wait to be 10 and hit double digits, and when I did, I felt 10. I couldn’t wait to be 18, so I could vote and buy a lotto ticket. And when it happened, I felt 18. I really couldn’t wait to be 21, for obvious reasons, and my first steps into a bar, I absolutely felt 21.
But now that I’m hitting a quarter of a century, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to feel like. I mean what does 25 come with? The ability to rent a car without the extra charges? ...woohoo, I guess.
People say all the time that age is but a number, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. But 25, for whatever reason, feels like a strange, confusing number.
I’m officially halfway through my 20s. The reckless, free “young 20s” era has passed. My mom likes to quote science and say that your brain doesn’t fully develop until you’re 25. So I guess now I have a fully developed brain. But the thing is, I’m not totally sure she always feels fully developed. She still waits five days to fold the laundry after doing it, refuses to use Neosporin on scrapes and blisters, and thinks the need for preheating an oven is a myth. Are these really the thoughts of a brain that’s developed all the way??
Growing up is scary. The older you get, the more people expect of you.
As a kid, I remember always looking up to people and never believing I’d be that cool or that old. “I’ll never be old enough to hang out at a mall with my friends without adults.” “I’ll never be old enough to drive myself places.” “I’ll never be old enough to go to college.” “I’ll never be old enough to live on my own.” And so on and so forth
The funny thing is, I always did become old enough. I hit the milestones that seemed so far away, and then they became normal. Activities like driving and going to bars were once so out of reach, but now I don’t even think about them.
Maybe this is just my memory, but 8-year-old Amanda thought that by age 25, you had life 100% figured out. Age 25 meant you were a full adult. You had a husband and a house and a baby and a really good job. You were a full adult.
Present day Amanda has no freaking clue what the heck a “full adult” even is. It still feels like this elusive milestone I've yet to hit as I masquerade as someone with their life together.
And maybe that’s because feeling completely “grown up” isn’t a quantitative thing. It’s not like a drivers license that you get to hold in your hand on your 16th birthday. There’s no test to take before someone gives you your “adult card.” Most of us gradually work our way into it and hit new, surprising milestones everyday.
We’re constantly learning and growing and shifting and changing. I mean, I’ve lived a quarter of a century already. And I’ve grown and changed and learned and lived and loved so much during that time. Imagine what the next quarter of a century will bring, and the one after that.
So yea, I may not be that version of a “full adult” that kid Amanda expected. There’s a lot of stuff I still don’t understand. But you know what stuff I do understand? That it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to have your heart broken. It’s okay to take a risk, and you’ll survive when it doesn’t pan out. It’s okay that there isn’t a destination, because the journey is just such great fun.
If these 25 years have given me anything, it’s insight. The ability to look back on happy memories and learn from the bad ones. Already at 25, I’m realizing how special the people in my life are and what things are worthy of cherishing.
It’s funny, I spent all that time as a kid impatiently waiting to be one year older. To catch up. To hit that finish line. And now, I’d love for everything to slow down.
I’d love to lower expectations of where I’m supposed to be and just enjoy the beautiful moment I’m in now. I’d love to work even harder at loving myself and cherishing the people around me. I’d love to live in these constant moments of newness and excitement and risk and uncertainty that are a part of young adult life. I’d love to give myself a break and remember that where I am is perfect and where I’m going will be even better.
So today, I challenge you to think about what you’ve learned from how ever many quarter of a centuries you have under your belt. What would you share with your younger self? Or even your older self? What about your journey are you proud of?
If I could talk to 8-year-old Amanda, I would tell her that her 25-year-old self wouldn’t be exactly where she thought she’d be. But she is happy. She is enough. She is brave and kind and living a life to be proud of. She is full, and she is excited for what the rest of life has in store.
Living life isn’t always the easiest thing, but it has such terrific rewards. Everyday is a great day to celebrate that.
…. but today is extra special, for me. It is my birthday after all.
All my love,