This weekend, I will have been breathing, eating, and complaining for 25 long and diverse years.
In the build-up to this momentous occasion, I have found myself wistfully reflecting on what this means, and how I can deal with it. If you’re coming up to this milestone, look, listen and take heed.
The never ending ambition to be just like you were at 19, or 20, is one side of the ‘Oh, I am 25 now’ coin. The world was our oyster, we’d made a couple of life choices through school and A-Level, but it was all out there, in the distance, waiting to be grasped and wrestled into our own lives. Commitments were restricted to chilling with friends, a bit of self-study and learning to play ‘One Vision’ on the electric guitar. Hangovers were something that lasted for hours, not days.
Opportunities on the other hand, were ten-a-penny. Every other weekend, there was a trip to the coast in a rusty Micra, and nights out finished at 5 AM the next day. Perhaps most importantly, your career was a ball of clay, waiting to be shaped into whatever and wherever took your fancy.
So here I am, four days until my 25th birthday, that ball of clay is starting to harden, cracks are forming, and the shape is still very much a indeterminable blob. Much like my belly.
All around us, as we get older, we are bombarded by the ever-increasing standard of beauty. Critics seem to obsess about plus-size female models, but it’s just as apparent for us chaps. I don’t need to go into the amount of six-packed, sinewy Instagram posts every day. What’s possibly worse is that on one side we have the perfection of life, these well dressed lads, on their yachts or jumping off a sandy cliff into sky-blue water; and on the other side are the people around us in the ‘real world.’
The real world consists, mostly, of the opposite of the Instagram world, belts get longer, pens go in breast-pockets and comfort takes over style. Perhaps recognising this makes us more self-aware, and this self-awareness will never allow us to blink-away 10 years. My biggest fear, and possibly yours, is to wake up, 4 days before your 35th birthday and for nothing to have changed.
We’re always told, if it’s not right, get out and change it. But when you need that income source, your rent’s increased, relationships have got more serious, and all your friends are having children, it all results in a diminished ability to light the boosters and blast out of the orbit of dullness.
Recent studies suggest that a third of 20-something-year-old’s go through something similar, what’s being labelled as the ‘quarter-life crisis.’
Two in five were worried about money, saying they did not earn enough, six percent were planning to emigrate, while 21% wanted a complete career change. And a massive 32% felt under pressure to marry and have children by the age of 30. (That’s at least one that I’ve not got to deal with)
This all differs considerably with the good old fashioned mid-life crisis. When you’re 50, your career is well and truly formed. Yes, you may want to smash it and start again, but at least you (probably) have a family, a house, savings in the bank and a decent wage coming in while you’re pondering.
Let’s face it, the good old cliché of buying a Porsche when you’re 50 is real, because you can afford to go and do it. some may say, its an opportunity available to you. I’m 24 and I certainly can’t afford a Porsche.
Perhaps I’m being cynical. Certainly, there are much worse places and situations to be in. But that fact shouldn’t make you settle for what you’ve got. There’s an inevitable increase of responsibility and commitment, and the resultant decrease in opportunity, yes. But maybe it should be embraced, just not to the detriment of enjoyment.
I think, to finish and portray how my 25th birthday prep is going, I’ll paraphrase Damian Barr, author of the book Get it Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis:
‘If the world’s our oyster, It’s certainly a dodgy one.’
For more information on the Quarter-life Crisis, do have a read of this informative article from the Guardian: