25 Turning 40
For as long as I can remember, I have been told I look and act older than I actually am; people have pegged me as “hmm twenty-seven/eight-ish?” for at least the past five years. Maybe it was the discovery of my very first white hair last month, or perhaps it’s down to my 25th birthday looming just around the corner, but I have been thinking a lot about age and what difference it makes, if any.
Over the past two years, my concept of ‘thirty’ has changed drastically. Up until I left Malta, I was used to equating turning thirty with buying a house, getting married and having babies. Looking back at that, I can’t help but shake my head and laugh. Having met so many people in their late-twenties and early-thirties upon moving to Dublin who didn’t fit the mould I had already cast them in, I was forced to reevaluate exactly what ‘thirty’ means. And do you know what I realised? Being thirty (or twenty or forty for that matter) doesn’t mean a damn thing. I happen to have friends around my age getting mortgages, engaged, or pregnant left, right and centre … but then I have notably more friends who are focusing on their careers, still studying or just saving up for the next holiday. Interestingly, a lot of the people in the former group are Maltese so perhaps it’s more of a cultural thing.
I think people’s attitudes to age can be similar to their attitudes to stepping on weighing-scales. Some see a number on the scale and let it define them; the number becomes all-consuming and affects how they feel about themselves and how they relate to others. Others don’t bother hopping on the scales; if the trousers still fit then there’s nothing to worry about! I’m definitely the latter kind of person and, funnily enough, some others find this hard to comprehend. “But don’t you want to sort out your career?” or “You don’t want to leave it too long or you’ll be too old to [insert pretty much anything ‘important’ here].” I don’t think it’s worthwhile feeling pressured to do something just because others feel there’s an expiry date on it. All in your own time.
A friend of mine, let’s call him Percival Johnson, told me a story. He was feeling particularly apprehensive about turning thirty; he didn’t have the high-flying career, fancy car, house, or any of the things that he believed would make him worth something at his age. P. J. was lucky enough to have someone point out to him that these were expectations he imagined his family or society were putting on him but in actual fact he was the one placing pressure on himself. P. J. was perfectly happy just being who he was. Isn’t that what matters, really?
So as I shortly turn 25, I am going to embrace my one white hair and the fact that I have no idea where my life is going at the moment.