To quote the great Jessica Simpson: “Twenty-three is old. It’s almost 25, which is almost mid-20s.”
I remember when I was in high school and thought if I wasn’t married by 23, something was TERRIBLY wrong with me.
I also remember feeling like 25 was old. I never thought the day would come where I’d be turning an age that felt so adult-like. But here we are!
I know everyone older than 25 is probably rolling their eyes and spitting out their coffee right now but I’d like to imagine you once felt how I did as a clueless teenager. Now that I’m at the midway point between being clueless and being the big 3-0, it comes with its own set of worries and WTFs.
On my 25th birthday a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t find myself holding two giant gold “2” and “5” balloons like every other blogger and posting a photo of it on Instagram, describing how happy I was.
Instead, I was collapsing from pressure.
Sure, I had brunch with two of my friends in the city (okay, and yes, we made a boomerang cheers-ing with our drinks), but under the surface, something else was happening that I didn’t realize was there until it blew up in my face.
As an avid user of Instagram, my days are filled with time scrolling through people’s glorious lives. All of the trips (the trips!) and the puppies (I need one!) and the new houses (holy crap, that’s big!) and the proposals (should we be doing that?) and the weddings (one day?!) were starting to flood my head with doubt.
At 25 years old — an age that seemed ancient to me at one time — why wasn’t I traveling to Europe and filling up my passport with stamps? Why wasn’t I talking more seriously with my boyfriend about getting married? Is it weird we haven’t talked about that more? When will I stop paying thousands to live in a building with 300 other people and instead have my own house?
It was starting to get to me.
From the outside looking in, I understand how my life can look like a dream to some: 25 years old, living in New York City, dating a great guy and working at the biggest entertainment magazine. It doesn’t help when I attend the occasional rooftop party and post about it on Instagram.
But I was starting to feel like that wasn’t enough and I wasn’t doing enough.
I think a lot of us in our twenties (and thirties?) feel this way because of social media. Not many people are posting the crappy things in life, like their parents getting sick, or their boyfriends breaking up with them, or the mouse that JUST won’t go away in their apartment (might be exclusive to New Yorkers). And while Instagram is a place to show off the fanciness that sometimes enters our lives, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others.
On the night of my 25th birthday, I got a hard reality check and came to realize just how much pressure I was putting not only on myself — but on other people as well.
It’s really an amazing thing to date a super patient person, but you can feel like the crazy one when you bring up making any strides forward. But I was starting to act crazy. I was forgetting to be myself and have fun and not think too hard, and was instead so focused on the future and everything being perfect and where society was pressuring me to feel like I should be.
It’s like dating someone for three years comes with the same “future” question as when you graduate college — but replace “what are you going to do with your life?” with “so when are you getting married?”
If someone ever comes up with the best response for this, call me immediately. Also you will totally know when I’m getting married because posting on Instagram is the new calling your mom first (kidding).
Not only was I getting wrapped up in deadlines, I was having serious FOMO about traveling. So much so that I disregarded the fact that most people never go to Europe in their entire lives. Why did I have to rush it?
After many margaritas and several tears, I decided to look at 25 as a breath of fresh air instead of a ticking time bomb. A moment to pause, think about how amazing life is and how much easier it is to look at it day by day instead of year by year (and to keep my eyes on my own road). Because who wants to look back on life and think why didn’t I just relax for a minute?
Side note: If you’re 25 and haven’t experienced any of these thoughts, I commend you — and assume you probably don’t go on social media much (or you are a guy).
While I’m taking this year in as a reminder to, essentially, calm the F down, I would like to remind people that while things always look glamorous on Instagram, really I’m just a 25-year-old who still babysits regularly, sleeps through her alarm too often, cries at anything remotely genuine, creates future wedding playlists on Spotify for fun, and never really wants to be the girl holding golden “2” and “5” balloons on her birthday.