With each age milestone comes the reality that life is short and apparently the older you get, the more it settles in.
I think it really starts once you hit 25. Before that, school drags on over the years and it feels as if it will never end. Then when it does, there are a couple of buffer years until you hit age 25 when you realize, “Wow … I’m 25. I really thought I would be doing ________ with my life by now.”
As for me, I haven’t technically hit a quarter of a century yet (because my birthday lands in the fall),
but as I think about it, the above statement is what comes to mind.
I had an interesting conversation with a special someone this past week that brought this to the surface. She, unlike myself, is close to turning 30 and realized that she also hadn’t accomplished some of her aspirations.
It seems like we dream up the wonderful life we wish to live when we are in our youth — I think it’s in order to daydream our way through school — to find out later on that what we have been waiting for and promised in the end is not as easy to achieve once we get there. Time is not on our side in this instance and things don’t pan out the way we think they should. Are you feeling the pressure?
Sometimes these pressures are not actually our own. Our society has a way of dreaming what a successful 25, 30, 40, 50 (you get the point) should be doing or should have done by those milestone ages.
Between 20-25 you are married, have children and are just starting your career. At 30 you are
becoming a well-oiled business machine so it’s time to switch to a new job. By 40 you are thinking about early retirement because you've invented the next best thing at the same time as making sure you buy a bigger house for your fifties to house your future grandkids.
I mean let’s face it; early retirement is a pressure in itself. You can spend your time doing what you’d like and visit exotic places at the drop of a hat.
This may be true for some reading this column, and kudos to you, but for most of us, this is far out of reach and probably will never happen. Should we be discouraged? I don’t think so. I think at these milestones it is important not to take stock of what we don’t have, but pause and reflect about the things we are proud of in our past and reevaluated those things that need a little rearranging. That way when we venture through the next decade we are situated to succeed based on something we can actually accomplish, instead of following the “I should be’s” of the American dream. So here’s my encouragement: Dream big and don’t let it get you down if you haven’t witnessed the "regular" societal norms fulfilled in the deadline you’ve set for yourself. Perhaps the pattern of your life looks a little different.