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Things that don't seem so important by 25 years old

currently: listening to Sweet & Easy by Wonder Girls

Yes, today's the day. The day I am no longer able to say I'm in my "early-20s". I'm three years too old to be feeling 22. There are more years of my life than there are hours in a day. I could legitimately have a quarter-life crisis because I've lived 1/4 of my life. I now have to tick the boxes in forms and surveys that say "25-40". And Adele's album '25' will become my life for the next 365 days.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a little. However I did think of the ways I'd cross that threshold into "mid-20s'. Last month, I panicked and thought I better come up with a list of the '25 things I need to do before I turn 25'. I turned to my friends for suggestions and it all was a bit of a mixed bag...

"Pinch something from the dairy."
That's illegal.
"Go to town one last time."
Am I too old to go to town now?
"Take part in protest overseas."
That seems logistically difficult. And expensive.
"Bungy jump."
Why does it have to involve falling off things?

And that wasn't even the worst of the suggestions...

Anyway, I backed out of that list of suggestions pretty quickly when it got into the 'too hard' basket. But rather than just thinking of all the things I was "losing" other than more years of my "youth" - I thought of the things I have gained. Or rather, the things I learned I didn't have to gain just because I turned 25.

1. It's not important to call yourself an "adult" all the time.
Yes, technically and legally you're an "adult" by the time you're 18 in New Zealand. However, falling into the stereotypical conventions of an "adult" doesn't seem to be that important now. Just because I'm an adult, it doesn't mean I'm not allowed to have fun. I'm not "too old" to go out, or to lose innocence, or to let go of the joy of wonder and magic. I'm still allowed to be excited over the small things in life - and I don't have to be a cranky dream-stopping old-timer to get that.

2. I don't have to have all the adult boxes ticked by 25.
Getting engaged, getting married, owning a house, having kids, having a successful career - these are all nice to have but there's no deadline on achieving these things. What works for some people doesn't necessarily work for others and I don't, and shouldn't, feel less of a person for not getting life milestones ticked off my list. I'm happy with my pace and place in life to focus on the things that do matter to me, rather than focus on what everyone else tells me I should do.

3. I don't have to care what other people think.
Between 23 and 24, I started finding a freedom in not worrying about other people's opinions of me. I don't have to dress up for anyone, I don't have to get along with everyone, and I won't make friends with everyone - and you learn in life that's fine. As long as I am a decent human being, that's all that matters. And in knowing that, you earn a lot more confidence in yourself.

4. You don't have to rush through life.
From 18 to 21, I felt I was always working to the end of the year. To meet deadlines, to complete goals, to get this done and that done, and have everything in between line-up the way it was always supposed to. That gets exhausting, and it truly ages you more than you realise. I've learned now that you should always take time - even if it's just a few minutes or a few hours, to make sure you're not taking life for granted.

5. You don't have to be everything you expected yourself to be five years ago.
When I started working, one of the questions I hated most was 'where do you see yourself five years from now?' And while there are so many things I want to do in this life, I should never be disappointed about how I got here from that person I was five years ago.

Of course, these are only just the feelings I have at 25. Who knows what I'll be like at 30, or 35, or 85. All I hope is that I live this short life well, with every breath used for as a second chance, and every action as meaningful as the last.

Here's to being 25 and not taking ourselves too seriously. x

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