Since just before my 24th birthday I’ve been dreading the day when I turn 25. Something about that number just makes me stop dead in my tracks. I’ll be five years away from 30. I won’t be on the young end of “twenty-something.” I’ll stop getting carded for drinks. I won’t be part of the 18-24 group when I’m filling out surveys.
In short: I’m experiencing a bit of a quarter-life crisis. My impending birthday has left me consumed. It’s been three years since I graduated college, seven since I graduated high school, and 11 – E-L-E-V-E-N – since I was a high school freshman. All of these actors and actresses and singers and boy bands and celebrities are younger than I am. When did that happen?
I haven’t freaked out about my age before, either. This isn’t something I do every year, like clockwork, or anything like that. But then again, in previous years, I wasn’t turning an almost-ancient 25. I feel like this is it; this is the birthday that will kick start a potential life-long battle of the “I don’t want to celebrate another birthday because it means I’m getting old” blues.
I know I’m not the only one. But why? Where is this sense of panic and dread coming from, especially when 25 seems so young in the grand scheme of things?
Well, to start: I worry that my youth is “gone” and now I’ve got to grow up and be an adult, whatever that means. Does turning 25 mean I have to know everything about my taxes? Should I give up singing into a microphone and pretending I’m Britney Spears? Should I stop wearing bows in my hair? Should I try to make my voice an octave lower because I sound like a little kid? Does turning 25 mean I have to stop quoting “Mean Girls” and “Clueless” because I’m, like, nowhere near high school age anymore? What type of sick pseudo-prison sentence is this?
I worry I haven’t accomplished “enough” at this age and now I can never go back and be some sort of piano prodigy. (I never played piano, but what if I had?!) From now on, I feel like nothing I ever do will be very remarkable. No media outlet will harp on the fact that I’m some genius little kid who’s just invented something. They might think whatever I invented is interesting, sure, but it won’t be astounding because of my age. They won’t be like, “Wow, look at this cool 9-year-old who was just nominated for an Academy Award.” (I’m looking at you, adorable Quvenzhane Wallis.)
And what about that question, “What do you want to do with your life?” When I was a little kid, the world seemed so big and open and exciting. There were possibilities. I could be an artist. I could be an astronaut. I could be a vet. I could travel the world and become the president and move to Paris and invent a flying car. Now, I mostly just feel like the question “what do you want to do with your life?” no longer applies to me; instead, it’s “what are you doing with your life?” and somehow that seems so much more daunting because some days, what I’m doing with my life is eating cereal out of a mug and watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
But I will breathe. I refuse to give in. I cannot let these fears swallow me whole, no matter how much they want to try to consume my brain. I will not feel bad about turning 25. I will drill it into my head that my life is not over, that this isn’t the end, and that there’s no such thing as it ever being “too late” to do anything at all.
So here’s to kicking off a column where I dig in to making the most about these precious few weeks before I turn 25 – and then rock the hell out of my 25th birthday. From now on, when people ask me, “what are you doing with your life?” I want to reply, “Living it.”
This ongoing column will follow Crystal as she gears up to turn 25. It will include things she thinks every 25-year-old should know (and what to know about them); things she wants to know, learn, and do before turning 25; and other related articles. The column, 25 to Life, will be posted sporadically until May 22.