Not to be dramatic, but I’m almost 30.
And for whatever reason, it’s starting to feel like a milestone.
So if you’re into reading about how weird other people’s lives are, welcome! Let’s get started.
Fresh out of college, I found myself in a unique situation. I graduated on a Saturday and started what I truly thought would be my forever career the following Monday. Yes, that’s correct. Literally 48 hours between college and career. I started working at my family’s business because I thought it was the right thing to do. None of my brothers or sisters or cousins wanted to work there, and someone had to keep it in the family. Might as well be me, right?
And the most ridiculous part about this whole thing is that I kept doing that. Over and over and over again, for years. I did what I thought was “the right thing to do”, even though it may not necessarily have been what I truly wanted. I was also in a humongous hurry to have “accomplished something”. I’m not sure what the rush was, but I dove headfirst into a long string of choices that I made because I thought it’s what I was supposed to do. Graduate college. Get a job. Get married. Buy a house. Have babies.
Etc. etc. and so on and so forth.
I did every single one of those things, in “perfect” order. This was the way things were done, I thought. The way things happened. I was in love, so we got engaged. It’s just what came after dating. And then after that, we got married, because that’s what you do after you get engaged. It wasn’t until years later that I was able to (or allowed myself to, whichever…) take a step back and realize that I let a lot of these things happen because I just thought “well, that’s what you do”. Engaged people get married. Married people buy houses. I was “doing everything right”. If you wanted to be happy, this was the blueprint to follow.
So I followed it – and watched it all unravel.
I don’t want to ever come across as sorry for any of the choices I’ve made. So far, it seems that life is just a big string of choices, one after the other, and then just dealing with the consequences of those choices. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve made some wrong ones. Some bad decisions that led to less than positive outcomes. But that being said, I don’t know that I would change any of those choices. I’m extremely thankful for everything I’ve experienced and the places and people I’ve encountered because of choices I’ve made, even if things were hard at the time. I’m grateful to every person who has helped make my life into what it is today. Which I realize sounds trite, but whatever. I’ve learned so much, especially from the hard times.
It’s not so much that I think that I lost a bunch of time in my 20’s as it is about how I felt for most of the decade. I always sort of felt like I was in this big hurry. Everything was a rush. Hurry up and graduate so you can start that job. Hurry up and get engaged so you can get married. It was some sort of imaginary checklist I was working on. Rushing to check off all the boxes as if having all the items on the list completed would automatically mean I had accomplished “a good life”.
What I’ve mostly come to realize, though, is that the script I was following wasn’t real.
The boxes I was checking off, while they might be the right choices for someone else, weren’t necessarily right for me at the time. I wasn’t running out of time, and I’m still not.
I didn’t lose any time by spending my 20’s the way that I did. But I’m certainly going to use it as a barometer for how I live in my 30’s. I’m not going to let myself just conform to societal norms because it seems like the right thing to do, or because I feel like time is running out, or because everyone else is doing it, or whatever bullshit reason. I’ll also no longer let myself make any long-term decisions based on how likely I am to fail at that thing. I’m going to be a little more okay with trying, but failing. I like to think I’ll fail gracefully, but who knows. Maybe it’ll all go down in flames.
Making decisions is hard, but after a while, your indecision becomes a decision. So I’ve decided that I’m going to spend the rest of my 29th year exactly how I want to, and I’m pretty excited about that.