Recently I turned 28 and I have had to unwillingly acknowledge that my twenties will be soon coming to an end. There’s a part of me that’s slightly terrified by it because when you’re in your twenties a lot of bad decisions can be excused due to the fact that you’re still young and finding your way. When you’re in your thirties however, you’re supposed to have your s**t figured out and be steadily following the life plan that society has planned out for you.
The thing is, the older I do get the less I care about this so called life plan. I have long compared myself with my peers as I have begrudgingly grown in to an adult – wondered if I was pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, caring enough, ambitious enough or just enough. It took some time for me to understand that confidence isn’t awarded through a constant stream of compliments and approvals. It was something I would only gain once I accepted that the level of perfection I sought to achieve was not just unrealistic but completely unfair to myself.
Society, especially Irish society, would have us believe that we are are unfulfilled if we do not follow a certain path in a certain order. Our lives seem to be planned out for us after we leave school; graduate from university, meet a lovely boy/girl, go travelling for a few months, buy a house together, get engaged (there is at least a little bit of leniancy with the order of the last two), get married, have babies all the while developing a fabulous career and ensuring you’ve enough money gathered up to drive a great car, shower your house in Cath Kidston and make sure you’re a size 10 until the day you fall in to an exhausted heap.
If we fail to reach these milestones we may feel inadequate or that we have failed in some way. I know I have struggled with feeling somewhat unaccomplished because I haven’t reached a level in my career that I think I should be at or see others exceeding in their roles while I feel like I’m coasting in mine. This kind of behaviour is neither productive nor an efficient way of dealing with my own insecurities and it’s this wonderful self-awareness that’s been granted to me in the latter part of my twenties.
I’m now able to identify the moments where I worry that I’m lacking in a certain area of my life whether it be work, money or relationships and I can reign myself in before I let my brain whir in to a complete frenzy of toxic thoughts. This ability has saved me in these moments, allowing myself to acknowledge all the great things that are happening around me, no matter how trivial I might find them, because they might not be so trivial to someone else.
So as I approach my thirties at a steady pace, I know full well I probably won’t have it all figured out and I’m OK with that. I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re doing half the time and no doubt finds themselves at the till some Tuesday in Tesco’s, holding their club card in their hand wondering how the hell they even got this far in life. We are all on the same path at the end of the day but it’s not the milestones we think we have to make that count, it’s the moments in between; the brave choices we make that could take us anywhere, the people we surround ourselves with who make us feel like we’ve come home and cherishing those moments where we know that things are pretty fucking good.
Here’s to 28!