Twenty six is an age where you’re an adult, but you’re also still young as f*ck. You’re not expected to have your sh*t together, but it’s cool if you do. You’re not expected to be in a relationship, but it’s also normal if you are getting married. It’s okay if you’re trying to make $19 last in your bank account for a week. It’s okay if you get blackout drunk at the club.
After 26, you turn 27 (#math), and what’s expected of you and what’s okay begins to change. Then, when you hit 29 and the number of years left in your 20s turns singular, life takes a drastic turn.
Why is it that expectations of 26-year-olds vs 28- and 29-year-olds are so vastly different? How can one to two years lead to a complete change in social interests and bank account status? How can one to two years lead a majority of people to find and commit to a soulmate? How can one to two years make a difference in whether you’re “still young” or “so old?”
Honestly, what the f*ck happens during 27 that leads to this?
One year ago from today, I was 27 with two years and three months left in my 20s. It felt like I had a long time left before I would turn 30, so I continued on with my mentality of “whatever happens, happens, I’ve got time to make changes and figure this whole life thing out, it’s fine.” But then I turned 28 and the two years and however many months changed to one year and however many months. That’s when the panic set in.
When I was in high school and college, I thought a couple years was a long ass time. I would look at myself as a freshman and myself as a senior and would see two completely different people.
Now, a high school AND a college time period combined have almost gone by since I graduated college. Like, I could have done college again twice in the time that has gone by since graduating. To me, that kind of makes sense, because I’m almost 30. But then it doesn’t make sense because it feels like I haven’t changed at all from ages 21 to 28 compared to how much I changed from ages 14 to 21.
I’ve been blaming myself for letting the years go by too quickly. I keep asking myself “what if,” and I think of all the things I can no longer do because I’m almost 30. I worry it’s almost over, or that it’s already over – it being my youth and the time period where it was okay to take risks and f*ck up.
I’m mad I didn’t travel more. I’m mad I didn’t save money. I’m mad I didn’t lose weight. I’m mad I didn’t move. I’m mad I didn’t live at home longer. I’m mad I didn’t stay in more. I’m mad I didn’t go out more. I’m just a pile of anger right now, tbh.
Lately I’ve been wondering if I’m going through some sort of identity crisis because I don’t want to believe that it’s been three years since I turned 26, or if I just wasted the past three years of my life engaging in the same sh*t every day instead of experiencing new things, places, and people. Years ago, I thought I’d be at certain places in my life by now, and I’m not. Whether I simply haven’t achieved certain goals or I’m not ready to take certain steps, everything hasn’t fallen into place for me quite yet. And that scares me. But it shouldn’t.
I’m not sure where I developed this idea that life ends when you turn 30.
I know it doesn’t. Maybe it’s because I branded myself as a “forever 20-something” six years ago when I started my website Forever Twenty Somethings, and my 20s are now coming to a close. Maybe it’s because I’ve been putting my social life first over everything for the entirety of my 20s and now my social life is in the process of dying.
I should stop thinking like this, though. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20s while writing on the Internet, it’s that most people feel the same way about everything. Most people feel old each year when their birthday passes, whether it’s a 22nd birthday or a 30th birthday. Most people feel like they don’t have their sh*t together. Most people change and have trouble adjusting to change.
When it comes down to it, you really are as young as you feel (and look – but that’s another article.) While I’m still not 100 percent sure what happened between ages 26 and 28 to expedite this growing up process, I am about 98 percent sure that part of it is all in my head (and possibly your head, too). I am changing and my life is changing, and although I’m sad to let go of the past, I’m happy I lived it up as much as I did. I had fun, and I’m still having fun – in different ways. I’ve changed. I’ve grown up.
I still like to go out, and that’s fine. I’m not ready to have kids, and that’s fine. I’m not ready to settle in my career, and that’s fine. No, I didn’t achieve my dreams by 30 (okay, 29, but I probably won’t by 30), and THAT’S FINE. And not because “I’m still young.”
F*ck “being young” or “being old.” Age is just a number.
If you’re still living, you can do whatever the f*ck you want (pending how much money is in your bank account.)
If you find yourself in your late 20s wondering when you went from “still young” to “too old for the club, but not the earth,” you’re not alone. Don’t let this get to you! If you don’t force your life to go in certain directions, everything will happen when it’s supposed to happen for you. No one expects anything from you, no matter what your age is.
Forever Twenty Somethings is an online magazine helping people navigate their 20s and beyond. Follow them on social: Facebook, Instagram (@20somethingproblems), Twitter (@forever20tweets). Follow Samantha on Twitter: @SamanthaMatt1.