At least once every 30th birthday party, someone says “Welcome to the new 20’s!”
But do you really want to relive your 20’s? Do you remember yourself at 20? We were less confused and more sure of ourselves than as teenagers, but we still didn’t have a clue about anything. We drove too fast, spoke too loud and partied too hard because we could. I did too, and no regrets about that! But we also took people too seriously, took ourselves too seriously and had quite a few trips and falls on our way to adulthood. Criticisms hurt us deep, our own shortcomings betrayed us and failures broke us.
I’ve always believed that every five years, you graduate into a new phase of life. Your views mature, your opinions find clarity (and sometimes, an immovable conviction which may be good or bad) and you look at things very differently. Seriously, a 25 year old thinks differently from a 20-year old and if they don’t, God help them! But the 20’s as a decade have a common theme running through them — getting comfortable with yourself, with life and with your place in the universe.
I’ve lived up my 20’s, and I am what I am because of them. Good times taught me to let my hair down and enjoy. Tough times taught me perseverance. Mean people gave me bitter lessons in human nature while friends, family and ironically, my pets taught me to have faith in humanity. My partner taught me to love myself for what I am. I won, I lost, I flew and tripped and crashed, but somewhere along the way, I learned to keep my head and find balance.
Today, I am comfortable with the best and worst of myself, I am more confident and I know when to care about people’s opinions and when to give a damn. I take myself a little less seriously and I laugh more — both at myself and at the little joys of life. I am a little less tolerant of bullshit but may go a little more by conviction than reason sometimes. I’m more considerate but I may be a bit forgetful — for the life of me, I can’t remember what I did on my 20th birthday! I’ve conquered a few old fears, picked up some new ones and made peace with some — I’ll never watch a horror movie or calmly manage creepy crawlies, but at least I know my limits. I still don’t know the purpose of my life, but I’ve got the rest of my life to figure that out and I have a feeling I’m on the right path.
Granted, I’d choose my figure at 21 any day, but I look forward to the 30’s, simply because I know I’ve gotten all that I could out of my 20’s. But there will be challenges and oddballs of a different kind — I may be young at heart, but how will I like myself when those fine lines attack my skin and see the first splash of gray? Will I feel beautiful when I become enormous during motherhood? How will I see dear ones experiencing the troubles of old age? There are so many more profound questions that I still can’t even form but still fret over.
But que sara sara, I tell myself, for if I’ve come so far, I’ll go farther. And just like time, there’s only one way to go in life — forward. If the 20’s have taught me anything, it’s that life doesn’t care about ages and decades when it’s handing out its lessons.
So as I blow the candles out this birthday, although I’ll be cursing the increased lungpower required to blow all those darn candles out, I’ll warm my heart with the experiences past, keep my eyes on the future and keep my feet firmly in the present. For today is tomorrow’s yesterday, and your best shot at making happy memories is to live it up now.
While you figure that last bit out, on a lighter note, here’s three things I can’t believe I said in my 20’s:
- Whee!! I gained two kilos! Now my jeans will finally fit!
- I wish I had a bit of gray hair so people would take me seriously 😦
- Dude … when we’re old, like when we’re thirty-five or something, we’ll be those uncles and aunties that our mothers warned us of!
Younger me, you may just be right about that one!