Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.
It’s crazy that in twelve hours, I am turning 25. It was just not too long ago when I was teasing my partner about the fact he was turning 25 and that he was now a quarter of a century old, and now here I am, eating my own words.
I can’t lie, 25 feels scary to me. Like, the other years were just okay, but for some strange reason, 25 feels like 50; I really feel just how much older I am becoming. Before I know it, these next five years are going to fly by and I’ll be in my friggin’ thirties. I’m not ready.
If there’s anything I can say as I’m reaching this “quarter-life milestone:, it’s that I’ve learned a lot about life and myself while being in my early 20’s. Some of these lessons were taught through older peers, observation, trial and error, and simply experiencing them the hard way.
Halfway into my twenties, I learned just how much your body is going to change. I’ve been a fat girl for most of my life, really, but it was painful at first to see the images of my 17-year-old body with a thinner face and a smaller stomach. It really took me a while to finally accept that my body is not going to be what it was when I was a teenager. As I’m maturing, my body is too, and for others that could simply mean that they are losing their “baby fat”, while others just gain more weight. But nevertheless, you’re going to gain weight as you get older anyway. I’ve learned to accept my bigger love handles, my semi-double chin, and my wider figure through time. I’ve also accepted the fact that looking through old photos of myself and how I looked before doesn’t determine my “prettiness” now. No, “I used to be pretty” or “wow why am I not this cute now” are not statements you should be telling yourself. I’ve learned to look at those old photos and say, “wow, that was a good time. Yeah, I looked thinner, but I know where I mentally was and what I was going through during that time when I was that age.”
I also learned just how thick your blinders are as a child when you are around your family. As a child, you believe your family is just this perfect, well-put-together entity that is untouchable and valuable. You think everyone gets along, you think it’s always a good ole happy time when everyone gets together, and you think everyone actually likes each other. But while getting older and going through the various years of my early 20’s, I’ve learned really quick about the individuals you call family. You see that there are inner conflicts between one another, you learn backstories of relatives that you thought were saints, you see your parents past the whole “untouchable superhero” facade and start seeing them as real human beings. You also learn what family members and relatives are just way too toxic for you to keep in your life. As you mature in age, you start learning about the things that families truly hide from young children for the sake of their childhood and happiness, so it’s really concerning and shocking to hear or witness something that makes you think twice about some of your family. Of course, not all of it is negative; personally, my sister and I didn’t get along when we were kids, but as we both got older and more mature, I believe we are the closest we’ve ever been because I got to see her for who she truly is instead of this big sister who was just “mean.” I’ve accepted that in these circumstances, it’s either going to bring you guys closer or drift you away. In my early 20’s, I’ve experienced both.
Speaking of relationships with other people, I accepted that friendships come and go, and only a few will grow with you. When you’re a teenager, it seems like you have a dozen of friends that you hang out with, go to class with, have lunch with, and everything is great with your social life. But once that phase of your life ends and you start your 20’s, you slowly realize just how different life is. I feel like the media portrays the 20’s at this age of being so damn social that you just have friends on top of friends on top of even more friends. While that sounds like a great time, those situations rarely happen, especially when you live in a city like NYC. Even the friends you kept through childhood will sometimes not last, and I accepted that a long time ago. I’ve accepted that people are in your life for certain parts of it, and sometimes you tend to grow out of them and they grow out of you. Yeah, certain friendships do “last a lifetime”, but I’ve learned through many friendships in my 20’s is that it takes two to tango. It takes both people in the friendship to put in effort and support, and it also takes some growing up to do to understand that adult friendships work so much more different than teenage ones. People have jobs, college class, families — priorities in general that sometimes don’t involve friends at the time being. I’ve accepted that what I put in friendships as a teenager and child isn’t even close to what I should put into adult ones.
It took me a while to finally accept the fact that I am on my own journey into adulthood and it shouldn’t be compared to anyone else’s that you follow on the internet or anyone you knew back in middle school, high school, college, etc. I’ve mentioned this a couple of times on the blog previously, but it’s so easy to fall into the rabbit hole of scrolling down someone’s social media profile and seeing all of the amazing things they have or are doing. You then start to compare yourself and the path you are on, questioning every little decision you made and wonder why aren’t you doing the same things your peers and old colleagues are doing, and it’s honestly just such a downer on yourself. I’ve accepted that the path that I chose to take is the one I am most comfortable with, and it’s the one that makes me feel less anxious and self-destructive. I know 20-somethings are either living their 20’s to the fullest, but I also know some are settled down with families and spouses. Not every path designed in this world is destined for you, and you have to accept that in order to create your own and stick with one that’s best for you.
Lastly: one of the most important things that I learned and learned to accept. I’ve learned that even in your 20’s, you don’t have a clear enough grasp of who you are. You don’t really know what you want the most out of life, and yeah we all want happiness and peace and good virtue, but we never really know what we need and what we want out of this world. We don’t have specifics because we are learning to find those things out, and we only find those things through experience, self-discovery, heartbreak, good times, bad times, everything life has to offer. One of the hardest things I had to learn in my early 20’s is that everyone is looking for their purpose in life, and everyone wants their closest people in their lives to fit within that path, not realizing that those same people are looking for their own unique purpose. In other words, I cannot expect my friends (and even loved ones) to fit into my own unique path of life because they are on their own. I was once afraid that I had to leave people behind because I wasn’t living up to their own path and felt like I wasn’t nowhere near them, but life isn’t about trying to fit into someone’s individual path. Everyone’s path is a narrow, one-way street; there’s no sidewalk for you to walk on with them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t support your closest friends or your partner on their journey; you just can’t expect yourself to drop your own dreams and self-discovery to follow theirs. Honestly, that’s the truest shit I’ve learned within these last couple of years in my 20’s.
So, I don’t know what the second half of my 20’s are going to be like. Will I look back at this and still believe in these things? Will they stay the same throughout adulthood? I don’t know, but what I do know is that the person who rang in her 20th birthday back in 2014 isn’t the same one that’s going to be ringing in her 25th tomorrow. And I’m glad that my 20’s are teaching me these type of lessons that I never thought I’d be learning. I mean, I thought I was going to be living on my own at 22 in Los Angeles pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting when I was 19.
Here’s to my second half of my 20’s! I was not expecting to this so soon!