It wasn’t until my boyfriend and I were driving home from the gym today that it really occurred to me that a quarter of my life is now behind me. As it was the eve of my 25th birthday, I was asked a simple question that made me stop and think; “How does it feel to no longer be in your early twenties?” My emotional reaction and verbal response was not reflective of any sadness I harbor toward growing older, however I did feel a wave of slight existential angst wash over me for the remainder of the evening as I thought more about what this birthday means to me.
I considered where I thought I would be in life at 25 when I graduated college a little less than two years ago. I felt disappointed in myself for not seeing my salary expectations come to fruition. I figured that I would already be well on my way in achieving some intangible product of life I call “success,” certainly not still enduring the financial struggles akin to my college years.
Although the two years following my college graduation taught me invaluable lessons including how it feels to be truly miserable with a job, how to harvest creative ideas and channel them into enjoyable projects, and how to turn these projects into a career, it is nonetheless hard not to feel some level of dissatisfaction as I enter my 25th year of life still feeling insecure.
I recently read an article about a PhD student in clinical psychology who, at moments, doubted his intellect and abilities to the point of questioning whether he belonged as a student at his institution at all. Rather than feeling like he lacked certain specific skills necessary for his craft, he questioned the fundamental value of whether he was even meant to pursue a life in clinical psychology. This type of self-doubt is often referred to as imposter syndrome, characterized by the internalization of feelings of fraud.
Conversely, after a tumultuous rollercoaster of meaningless jobs and fumbling about, I finally feel that I am on the right track. I love what I do, and I feel so lucky to wake up every day and feel excited about my job and creative projects. And I realize that comparing oneself to his peers is not an accurate measurement of 6[determining success, but I can’t help myself but notice that many other friends and people I graduated with in the same age group seem to be more comfortable, confident, and secure compared to me. When comparing myself to others, I do feel some level of this imposter syndrome.
Perhaps this coming year of being 25 years old will be met with the career development, continued learning, and small successes I need that will lead into something more. I promised myself in the middle of this past year that I would get out of the job that was sucking the life out of me, and I did. In the same year I also fostered more authentic relationships with my friends around me, cut back on partying and superficial acquaintances, grew closer with my boyfriend, and started to enjoy life and living in LA in a way that didn’t feel attainable before. It’s affirming to feel like I am on the right track.
For me, 25 will be about getting my shit in order. Now that I’m immersed in a craft that I enjoy, this year will be about learning and mastery. This year will also be about cultivating more sincere friendships with those around me and to be less flakey. Finally, this year will be about experimenting more with new ideas, and seeing these through to the manifestation stage rather than burying them before they’ve had the chance to grow.
I have always had a difficult time just sitting back and letting life take its course. I become anxious when things around me are not dynamic, constantly changing, offering me more. I know how to be happy, but prolonged happiness makes me nervous. I was always taught to expect more, push harder, dream big, and not to stop until I’m satisfied. Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever feel fully satiated with where I’ve come, but the best I can do is try to enjoy the journey.