In exactly a month from now, I’ll be turning 25. I will officially be a quarter of a century old. As I sit here reflecting, I find I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not someone who worries about aging and getting older, to me age is simply a number. I believe in the old saying, “you’re only as old as you feel”, though I would revise it a bit to read more like “You’re only as old as you feel in your heart and soul”, because let’s face it, sometimes we feel OLD physically. ;) I can remember when 25 seemed so very far off, a whole lifetime away. For a while it seemed like I’d never reach 25. Now here I am on the verge of reaching that very age, and frankly I find myself disappointed and worried.
When you’re young, you tend to have this idea of what and where you’ll be when you hit 25. You think you’ll have the whole world conquered, life all figured out, and be totally settled. At least that’s what I always thought. I think that has a lot to do with how you’re raised and what you’re exposed to. I always thought I’d be settled in the profession of my choice and be at least semi successful at it by this age. I also thought I’d be married by now, and maybe even have a child or two. I look back on those expectations and laugh now…. But at the same time, I mourn the loss of those ideals. I’m not successful (monetary wise) at what I do, I’m not “settled”, I’m not married or even close to marrying, and I don’t have children… Seems I’ve racked up a big fat zero in the game of life. In the words of my father, “you’re 25 and what do you have to show for it?” The answer is a whole lot of nothing. I’ve got very little to show for 25 years of life… At least that’s what it seems like.
It’s amazing what 10 years can do. If you had asked me what I wanted out of life 10 years ago, I would have told you a comfortable house (white picket fence and all), a husband, children, and maybe a successful, practical job that I could be comfortable at. I thought I would conquer life and achieve all my dreams by the time I hit 25…. Little did I know that none of that would happen and more importantly, that I would soon learn that those weren’t my dreams at all, but what was expected of me. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get married and have children, but I’m not sure I want them right this moment. I realize that some may have a hard time with that. I’m not sure why, but it seems that women are only thought successful if they hook themselves a husband and have babies. Now, don’t go jumping to conclusions, you can keep reading, I promise it’s safe. This isn’t coming from some crazy feminist fanatic. This is coming from a 25 year old woman (I laugh whenever I use that word in reference to myself, it just feels weird) who knows herself well enough to know that she’s just not ready for all of that yet. I can’t imagine having little lives that I’m responsible for right now. I’m not sure why we’re judged in this way. Why are we deemed inadequate or failures if we aren’t married with children right away?
I come from a family who went the traditional route. They all got married fairly young, and then had children, and again, I’m not knocking that route, I just found it wasn’t in God’s plan for me. My mother was married when she was 19, my dad was 21. She gave birth to four babies and raised 3 daughters. My parents are hard workers, and certainly have had their share of hard times and heartbreak. They lost my brother when we were three months old (we were triplets). Through ups and downs, job losses, car issues, you name it, they worked through it. They made it through 32 years of marriage. That’s admirable, especially these days. My mother went from her parents’ house to her husband’s house. She has told us numerous times through the years that she never really got to do what she wanted to do. She was always told what she should do and did what was expected of her. Therefore, needless to say, I think she has a hard time understanding me (and I know my father doesn’t, poor fella). I don’t seem to be very conventional and I’m certainly not doing what’s expected of me. I really feel sorry for my parents and I truly wish I could be what they want me to be. I wish I could have been that kid to go to college, earn a degree and then work in that field, get married, have children, and live the practical life that is usually expected. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be wired that way. I’ve tried it, believe me. I tried going a different route and choosing a more practical career field, it just never panned out for me. It’s heartbreaking to know that you’re not what your parents want, that you can’t live up to their hopes for you. It weighs on the old heart, believe me, but it’s a weight some of us have to carry, simply because we don’t seem destined to ever live up to others’ standards.
The topic of marriage and children have come up a lot over the years, starting when I turned 18 all the way to now, and it comes up more frequent the older I get. It appears that I have the sole responsibility of providing my parents with grandchildren, I’m not sure why. I have two sisters, one is the same age as me (twin) and the other is 17. When the subject comes up, it’s always focused on ME not being married or having children yet. It has always puzzled me. You can bet there are more than a few barbs thrown my way about not being married or having children yet. I realize that they may not be meant as barbs, but playful jabs, but in reality, that’s what they feel like. You see, I’m well aware of how old I am. I’m also starkly aware of the fact that I don’t have a husband or children yet. I don’t need that reminder, believe me. When I was a little younger, early twenties, I just let them roll off, telling myself I had loads of time. But now, admittedly it’s harder to let them roll off. I know I’m pushing time. I know I’m in my prime childbearing years. I KNOW. I get all of that, but I can’t see rushing into something I’m not ready for and don’t want right now, just because I’m getting older.
I use to worry and agonize over this, wondering when or if I would ever get married and have babies. Not anymore. I’ve come to realize that if it’s in God’s plan then it will happen in his time, if it’s not, then I’ll have to deal with that. Personally I hope it is in His plan, but at the same time, I won’t die of a broken heart if it’s not…. Which is more than I can say for my mother (I formally apologize to her if that’s the case!) Right now I’m quite content to be a dog mom. :)
Another thing that puzzles me is people thinking that you’re lonely and unhappy if you’re single. My kid sister is a big one for this. She seems to think that I’m just this lonely old woman who is desperately unhappy simply because I’m single. It’s almost laughable, all the little jabs she throws out in regards to this subject. In reality, I’m quite content in my singleness. I’m not crying myself to sleep at night over it. To be honest, I’ve been happier being single these past few years than I ever was in any of my relationships. I don’t need someone to be happy or to make me happy. I don’t need someone to “complete me”. I’m very happy on my own, I make my own happiness. I don’t feel any less complete being single. If or when I choose to get married, it will be because I truly love the guy and WANT him, not because I NEED him. I’d much rather have someone who wants me than someone who needs me. Let’s face facts, if you’re only with someone because you need them, it probably won’t last. You can find someone else to fulfill that need, but if you’re with someone because you want to be with them, then you’re together by choice. Want is a better foundation than Need in my humble opinion.
I’ll be 25 in a month, and then in 5 years I’ll be 30. I use to think 30 was way off. I said earlier that 25 once seemed like a lifetime away, well 30 seemed like two lifetimes away. Now that I’m a little older, I realize just how fast time goes. 5 years seemed so long when we were in school, but now, 5 years isn’t long at all, and it’ll be over before we know it. I’ve been out of school (high school) for 7 years now. Most of the time I can’t believe it, it just doesn’t seem like 7 years have passed, but then there are the occasions when I look back and it FEELS like it’s been all those years and more. I know 30 will come fast. The reason I think 25 is such a big deal is because it seems to be that “last call” for adulthood, so to speak. When you hit 25, it’s time to buckle down and get things done. It’s time to figure life out and get settled in time for 30. You’re expected to be totally ready and settled into adult life by the time you hit 30. Which is yet another reason why 25 holds so much pressure. If you don’t have it together by 25, it means that you only have 5 quick years to get it together. I’ve got a lot of work to do! I also have a lot of decisions to make. The main one being: Do I continue on this path of following a dream and a passion, or do I fold and go to a different, more practical path? Do I hold out “just in case” it all works out, or do I give up and always have that “what if” in the back of my mind?
I had made a decision the week leading up to 2017 that I would take this year and just follow where I felt God leading me. I promised myself that I wouldn’t make any of my own plans or try to plan my own course, but instead follow God’s path for me and listen wholeheartedly to where He was leading me. I had given up this path numerous times in the past, deciding to take different, more practical routes instead, but God put roadblocks up every single time. No matter what I tried, He always turned me back to the path He wanted me on. I gave it my best shot and tried to be practical. I tried to do something that I thought I could be happy at all the while making my parents proud… but none of it worked out. Something always got in the way. So I’ve finally decided to listen to God and follow His lead. It’s not practical, it’s not lucrative, and it’s a little scary. I can’t see down this road and around the bend. I don’t know if it will all work out or if I’ll ever find success with it. I just don’t know. What I do know is that God is always faithful. He wouldn’t lead me down this road unless it was good for me. Who knows, there may come a time when I reach another bend and go down a different route, but at least I’ll know it’s where I’m suppose to go. Now I’m not saying I don’t get impatient or worry from time to time, because I still do, even though I try not to. This past week has found me wondering whether I should ditch this path yet again and try to make my way down a more practical path. I’ll be 25 in a month and have nothing to show for it…… I have learned a great deal about myself over the last 7 years, I have made incredible friends, I’ve made contacts in the field I want to be in, and I have worked up quite a portfolio… but as far as “success” goes, I don’t have much to show for it. So I’m back to the question: Do I continue on this path of following a dream and a passion, or do I fold and go to a different, more practical path?
I’m pushing time and racing the clock……. Do I risk wasting my last 5 years until I’m 30 or do I go for the practical?
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She works as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.