I spent a lot of my teenage life waiting to be 18 – to me, 18 meant a sweet taste of adulthood and freedom and when you’re younger, nothing sounds better. Of course, you reach that post you stretched out your arms for, and the clock keeps ticking. 20s hit, then mid 20s hit. Whilst I’m getting older, I can acknowledge that I’m still young. I’m 26.
So, yes – in theory I’m young, but in practice, whilst I’m young, I’m really not that young… you know? Expectations for me are and have mounted, and whilst I still flippantly refer to getting around to doing something in my “late 20s”, it’s starting to hit me that the due date I’ve set for many of these things is patiently waiting to knock on my door in a few years time, as patiently as 25 waited to greet me at the door after I hit that coveted age of 18.
Getting older for me falls into one of two buckets at any moment in time. It’s either – eh, who cares. Life is good, or wait – this is starting to feel way too old for me.
At times, it definitely can feel weird getting older – sometimes I even forget my age (I blame COVID for that).
We spend a lot of time looking ahead. I reference my “late 20s” and wonder about where I’ll be in my 30s. In primary school – all of the kids would wonder what it would be like to be the “big kids” who were 10 years old and sat on the benches. In secondary school – my friends and I would wonder what it would be like to turn 18 and no longer have to meticulously plan how everyone is “getting drink” for a party (even if it’s a 5% Smirnoff ice). You get to university, and suddenly, you’re the youngest. You’re the wide eyed 18 year old new on the scene, ready to enjoy your year as a “fresher” – certainly naïve with a lot to learn, and probably easily taken advantage of. But, it feels good to be youngest… the “new kids on the block”. You’re young enough that responsibilities aren’t even a thing and being in your overdraft has yet to be hugely concerning. Yet, you’re enjoying all the freedoms of moving out and living alone. You’re still young enough that you don’t have to have much figured out at all.
But university passes as fast as a cloud on a sunny day, and soon enough, you likely join the world of pay checks and bills. There’s no defined rule book for each year anymore, like GCSEs or A Levels, instead, you’re working now and it’s up to you to figure out how you’re going to write your story. Time flies, and suddenly the things you didn’t worry about before quickly move to the top of your stress-out-list: So, how do you “make it”, then? Is your 9-5 going to continue to fulfil you for the coming years? Do you side hustle it at the same time? Do you quit it all and go solo? When do you buy your first house? When do you settle down? Not before long, you even start to connect the dots of what your parents were doing at your very same age; monumental things like immigrating and even starting a family. Meanwhile, you’ve spent the entirety of Sunday in bed with a hangover brought on by too many bubbles and/or shots the night prior.
At the same time, trends and changing, and you’re finding… for the first time… that maybe you’re not really into all of them. For example, I find TikTok entertaining to scroll through, but I’m not really about to to learn and film myself doing those random dances. You’re finding out that trends are changing too, even reverting back to trends from your childhood – somebody somewhere has decided skinny jeans are out of style and apparently side partings too.
All the while, you’re stepping into the shoes of those you once upon a time looked up to. Your LinkedIn ticks to 3, 4, 5 years of experience… and as that ticks on, so does your position in your role. You go from a grad, to a senior analyst, senior associate, VP and above, and you kick yourself when you remember how old, mature and accomplished you once felt these sorts of people were when you were in university trying to get your foot through the door.
Getting older is… interesting. Quite frankly, I’m not always the best at handling it. I don’t like feeling old, even if I know I’m not yet genuinely old. Honestly – it still feels weird to know that people born in the 2000s… are stone cold grown ass adults!
At the same time, I’m happy getting older if my quality of life and satisfaction moves in tandem. And the truth is, it has. I’m always trying to remind myself of some of the things I have been and am able to do that I never would have even pictured. It’s so easy to get accustomed to all that you have, and forget about what you once only hoped for. Whilst my hopes and dreams for the future ahead are always shifting; what I do know for sure, is that a young me would be happy with how the journey has been so far.
I am in the best place I’ve quite frankly ever been in terms of life, but also in terms of confidence. And honestly, if the years ahead continue on this trend… then maybe I don’t mind getting older quite as much…