Happy birthday month to me! This month, I will officially reach a new milestone: 25 years old. I’ll be a quarter of a century old, which means that my car insurance will go down and I’ll be able to rent cars without paying the under-25 fee. It also means I’m no longer in my “early 20s,” and I’ll be closer to turning 30 than I am to my teens.
Where the hell did my early 20s go, anyway? It seems like just last year I was joining the throngs of college freshman with their large blue bins unpacking their parents’ SUVs in the Back Bay, and it seems like yesterday I was watching our commencement address with wide eyes, ready to take on the real world with my stamped BU diploma.
Now, I’m sitting in my living room with my attentive puppy, watching me as I write this post on a Mac, which I swore I’d never buy, with Netflix’s recent addition of Gilmore Girls (I suppose some things never change) playing in the background.
While I don’t have any “I’m getting old!” anxieties, I have the sense that, at this new age, I’m supposed to have something to show for my efforts. Does that mean I’m supposed to have a shiny new reliable job? Or should I be getting ready to start a family? Should we be scoping out school districts and family cars?
Nope. Though I’ve lived a full 24 years of “people-pleasing,” my most important goal for 25 is to stop.
For example, last week, a recruiter contacted my husband for a job about two hours away in the middle of nowhere. Will mentioned to the recruiter that we would, as a couple, drive to the town and take a look before he takes the company’s time with an interview. She must have relayed the information to the company, because they asked BOTH of us to come out for lunch and to talk about the position.
In passing, we mentioned this interview to a few friends and family members, all of whom had an opinion about the location and why we shouldn’t check it out. “It’s too far, you’ll hate it!” or “What about your plans to move to the city?” or “You won’t be able to visit home!”
I found that, during the two-hour drive, I was already completely jaded about the position and was dreading his potential job offer. I was critical as we drove each mile, and we both had trouble mustering the appropriate amount of enthusiasm. My husband could have been about to find the perfect job, and we were already saying “no.”
Bottom line: we allowed the opinions of others to make our decision before we even arrived in this sleepy, charming New England town. The decision was easy, since the position wasn’t the right fit, but we could have missed out on a life-changing adventure and opportunity by letting others decide for us.
So, as my birthday approaches, I’m going to try to trust my own gut instincts from now on. The next five years are poised to include many big changes, including moving out of our first home, purchasing a low-maintenance condo, selling our condo, finding a home to raise our children in (boy, my realtor parents are going to be busy!), hopefully having a baby, starting the process to become foster parents, probably buying a big, three-row SUV to accommodate our growing family, and having my husband join me in the freelance/contract field, just to name a few.
I’m thrilled and incredibly excited about these changes, but they’re not going to happen if I continue forward with this awkward combination of looking for reassurance/approval and a desire to forge my own (and our own) path. Twenty-five seems like the perfect age to start listening to my own instincts.