When I turned twenty-five last January, I died a little…
It’s true that as you wake up each day, you are closer to dying. But for whatever reason death feels very distant when you’re at the peak of your youth. I did have a brooding classmate in Grade School who kept writing, “we are all going to die” in those Yasaka Grade 4 pad papers that made you proud to use them because you are one step closer to the sophisticated variations of pad papers - the handy ¼ sheet, the daunting intermediate pad, or the ½ lengthwise pad that is hardly used so you don’t mind giving them away (because the worst nightmare of every Filipino high school student would probably be paper-leeching seatmates). At that time, we all just wanted to grow up.
Fast track this by a couple of years and now you wish the internet was never invented and you still got snail mail from your childhood pen pal or neighbor who immigrated elsewhere. Life is happening on warp speed as you complete your degree and unofficially minor in whatever extra-curricular you were part of. You almost ruined your GPA at one point because of an unrequited love or a love that blossomed - only it was not the right time or place. Before you know it, you are wearing your toga and taking pictures with people who, one way or another, made your university years a safety blanket for what was to come. Because it is only after graduation as you vegetate on your couch and search online for jobs or professional schools when you realize that the years ahead of you follow no more set trajectory. Thus, the anxiety begins.
This realization hits twentysomethings at different times in their lives. For a very long time, I believed my mental age was 21, and I honestly believe whoever coined the term “Forever 21” is a female philosophy major who did her thesis on existentialism. Because those words seem to be the very essence of being a twentysomething - living in the moment and living like you’ll live forever.
So when I hit 25, I really did die a little.
As I was the first to turn 25 in my circle of friends, one of them was tearing up as I whined about how terrible it was and how old I felt all of a sudden (she was turning 25 in two months). I was symbolically smack in the middle of the naivety and recklessness of the early twenties years and the impeding gloom and pressure that comes with turning thirty. It was as if the next five years is equivalent to a bucket list of what you need to do and accomplish before you die, when the fact is you are only turning 30.
But like most feelings, you get over them. During the time I turned 25, I was working abroad for almost two years. For one thing, I decided to go back home last June. I wanted to figure things out without the distraction of living abroad - the ultimate canvass for living in the moment. Since being back, I have been reflecting on the significant events that filled those years and made me the person I am today. I have been reminiscing about the many memories I made with a bunch of strangers I shared a tiny office with, who eventually became lifelong friends and became the support system I needed to navigate through the frustratingly amazing twentysomething years. I am still sentimental about that phase in my life, but I am at peace with the decision of coming home, because I just knew in my heart that it is time to move on and begin a new chapter in the twentysomething story.
I guess 25 is but a number, and so is 30. And growing up is not the same as growing old. And having no regrets is not the same as being reckless. And despite our tendency to overanalyze and be critical about everything that happens during our twentysomething years, one can only do so much. Because the beauty of being a twentysomething is surrendering to the fact that although you are still figuring things out, you know in your heart that every setback and triumph is part of the grander scheme of becoming who you are meant to be. You just need to learn to trust your gut in the decisions that matter, and allow life to unfold before you as destiny slowly weaves its way into your life at twentysomething.