On Friday I will turn 25. I am greeting this event with fairly mixed emotions; on the plus side, I will no longer have to worry about the currently quite terrifying unemployment statistics for under 25’s. On the other hand my Young Persons rail card expiring is a bit of a downer.
I’ve found 24 to be a bit of a weird age, generally. When I look at (ok, stalk for research purposes) people from my year at school on Facebook, the difference in life stages is quite disturbing. Some are married, some have mortgages and proper grown-up jobs and pension plans. One girl is pregnant with her third child. Some are re-training, some have moved to London to live in shoe boxes and get coffee for a living, some live with friends or parents or partners. Some are still studying. Some are in Australia. Some seem not to have progressed at all since we were 16.
In a nutshell; at the age of 24 people in my experience have variously settled down into the lives they will inhabit for the next 50 years, have moved into a traditional phase of early adult life and are subsisting on beans and cheap vodka, or are still living like 18 year olds. You can see why it’s a confusing age.
It seems to me that there is an existential jump between 24 and 25 that didn’t exist between 23 and 24. 25 seems more serious somehow – more official. A grown up. I can no longer indulge the pretence that I’m only a couple of years older than the freshers at the University where I currently work – some of them are almost 7 years younger than me. SEVEN.YEARS. How the hell did that happen?
I am not trying to say that 25 is old. I know 25 is not old, by anyone’s definition. But it does mark the halfway point of my twenties, and that has set off some kind of deeply buried ticking clock in my brain that prompts me to evaluate where I am in life. I think it’s fairly symptomatic of the expectations placed upon young people by our society that brings on these feelings of inadequacy in anyone who is more interested in exploring the lesser trodden path than quickly racking up a succession of life goals – brilliantly summarised by Stephanie of Twenty-something Travel in one of her earliest posts (read it. Read her whole blog in fact, it’s amazing).
So as I said, my feelings towards my 25th birthday are fairly mixed. There’s the occasional panic, along the lines of ‘sooo, 25, living with my parents, on a temporary work contract and leaving in less than 6 months with no idea what I want to do with my life? Great job Clare’; which quickly swings to ‘hey, so what if that girl from your art class is working for Saatchi and Saatchi now? You’re going to see the WORLD!’ (I try to cling to the latter; the former is something of a buzz kill).
This time last year on the eve of my 24th birthday, my travelling plan didn’t really exist, apart from the germinating seed of an idea and my usual gnawing level of wanderlust. Right now, I know that my 25th year will be one in which I really begin to live the life I want to live – and that’s pretty exciting. Bring it on 25.