I remember when I was just about twenty, probably one month shy to the day, I was in my first year of University because I took a year off to go to Thailand and “discover myself” (as if one could actually find who they are at the bottle of a Chang Beer bottle). I had just got dumped by my boyfriend and I was struggling to understand why we weren’t destined to be together. At the time I was still living with my parents in the home I grew up in, eating the dinners my father cooked for me. My mom was my best friend because as a heartbroken university student I would rather study until 10 pm and then put on a few episodes of Sex and the City with my mom than muster any energy to go to a nightclub (plus my mom was way cooler than most of the people I knew). My much wiser sister at the ancient age of 25 who already had a baby convinced me to come to a house party thrown by one of her friends, while my mom watched my beautiful eleven month old niece. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
We arrived at the party early as it was my sister’s good friend whose house we would be ‘partying’ at. My sister introduced me to her friends: the nurse, whose shirt read “shut liver just giver,” the kindergarten teacher, and the human resources worker who was mocking herself as she told the story of the incident she dealt with at work. That same night was when my sister actually had to admit she was a smoker because I caught her in the act. I still can envision her standing in the garage trying to hide her cigarette as I leaned in and told my brother in-law, “She doesn’t think I know but I already know.” I even remember that evening one girl who I never had the pleasure of being introduced to, in her inebriated state, told me to stay the F*** away from her boyfriend, whom I also, had never met. I was astonished. These women were 24/25 years old with real jobs and they were acting like my friends. I was totally confused. These women were in long term committed relationships, owned their homes, they wore high heels to work every day and some such as my sister had children already. How could they possibly behave this way still?
Little did I know that 24 years old and trying to be a grown up comes way faster than you think. Since that day I have been in a committed relationship, dealt with the loss of both my parents, arranged two funerals, cleaned up a flooded house, sold a home, bought my own car, moved in with said significant other, traveled back to Asia on my own and graduated from university. I still party, I still drink more than I should, and I still wear graphic t-shirts that are probably inappropriate for my age… Or is that I have no idea what is appropriate for my age. Where did this rulebook of what your life is supposed to look like at every age come from and where did it go, because I definitely don’t have a copy.
At the time of meeting my sister’s friends, I was convinced that I would probably be more grown up at their age. But the truth is I feel further away from being a grown up than they were then. I have no job that is relevant to my degree, I bartend on the weekend in a nightclub where the girls are younger than the kids I use to babysit and I am not completely sure if I’d rather pay rent or go to New York for a week with a girlfriend. I wonder if we have these ideas from something we’ve made up in our head and life just takes over and becomes a constant disappointment in the eyes of the person you think you were going to be? If someone has the answer book of what my life is supposed to look like at 24, could you please stop hoarding it and give it over.
I wondering if it reads: 24-25 year olds you are in an endless longing for change but paralyzed by hesitancies. You have this massive fear of failure because generally you are just in a constant stage of disappointment.
Or maybe that’s just me.