It has become popular among my friends to create a “25 for 25” list; a list of 25 things to do during their 25th year in life.
My first thought was, “Shouldn’t we have a list for each year?” My second thought was, “Why limit it to 25?” My third thought was, “Oh Jesus, I’m going to be 25 in November.”
25. Quarter of a century. It seems like a small (read: meaningless) milestone to those who are middle-aged and older (ahem, mom and dad). But I can’t help but think back to 10 year old Janine and who she thought 25 year old Janine would be. I wish there was an actual list, but I imagine it would read something like this:
25 year old Janine will
- have a husband
- know John Travolta
- be a famous movie actress
- dress really fancy and adult-like
- have a home
- a baby
- live across the street from mom and dad
I’m sure if you’re reading this you know that “24 year old Janine” can cross absolutely NONE of this items off the list, and I’m pretty positive that nothing will change in the next few months leading up to the big quarter of a century. But the miraculous part of all of this is that “24 year old Janine” doesn’t want most things that “10 year old Janine” wanted-or at least expected- for her 14 years ago.
It’s normal for a young child to think the world will come together and form a neat little suburban bubble by the age of 20. When I speak to my young students they constantly ask me how old I am, if I’m married, and then why not. I always laugh at this, because in my mind, it makes more sense for “24 year old Janine” to not be married and not have kids yet. But to a 7 year old, I’m looking like a huge loser.
Once you leave college, begin to work and live independently, time changes and expectations are altered. This isn’t a failure. It’s a mature realization that life is an unexpected journey. You learn that you won’t have the dream job just yet, especially since you won’t know what your dream job even is. You might not have meant the person who complements you best. And you more than likely accepted the fact that you and John Travolta will never be in a movie together.
It bothers me to no end when I hear friends say “I thought I’d be married by now” or “I have two more years before I want to be married” (please note: a few of my friends are married, engaged, or bridal obsessed). I would ask them, “How can you put a timeline on your life like that?” I can understand wanting to finish college by a certain point or having a full-time job by a certain age, but how can someone say “I plan to meet the person of my dreams who will love me as well and we will dedicate our lives (LIFETIME) to one another by next year”?
I gag at the thought of signing a two year contract.
“10 year old Janine” never anticipated where 24 year old Janine would end up (I didn’t know where Mississippi was), the adventures she would go on (Italy, the Deep South, living alone a thousand miles from family, New Orleans!), the challenges she overcame ( a childhood best friend dying, a boyfriend and “best friend” betraying me behind my back, surviving a job that sucked the soul out of me, moving to a new city alone), and how could she?
So let’s move on from “10 year old Janine” and focus on “25 year old Janine”. What do I want to experience? What do I want to accomplish? Who do I want to be when I turn into “26 year old Janine”?
I’m going to start compiling a list that will be ready in time for November 1st. It will be posted on here and together we can share the experience of being a quarter of a century old.
I encourage you to do the same, even if you are turning 12 or 79. It would be awesome to share that together.
Be inspired by your life and see where you can go.