Being in your 20s is a strange time: you're trying to figure out what this whole "being adult" thing is that you've always heard about, you still feel like a big kid but you're at the point in life when you're seriously considering having your own kids (but you feel completely inadequate as an adult, and ergo, a potential parent), you're struggling to find the balance of being "fun" but mature (Is mature just a fancy word "adults" made up? Has anyone ever attained this illusive status of maturity?), you're possibly panicking that you're not where you imagined you'd be at this phase in your life (I mean, you've always wanted to be a ________ [fill in the blank] since you were 5, but you're nowhere close to achieving it. Sorry, five-year-old me!), and you have these eureka "aha" moments only to slip back into your old patterns of living days later. I may or may not relate to over half of these.
When I turned 25, my birthday felt less spectacular. I was a quarter of a decade old, half-way to 50, and biologically/physically speaking, at the "height" of everything so it would be all down-hill from here (the lies I tell myself sometimes are laughable, but only in retrospect). At 25, I wasn't getting any younger (Fact: you're never getting any younger, but the truth kinda smacks you in the face sometimes). My mom was awesome (as always) and put together a fun birthday box for me to make 25 a special birthday; she knew I was feeling slightly blue about this year's festivities. And then there was my husband, three years older, kindly laughing at me as he adamantly reminded me that "he was almost thirty." It's the oddest feeling when you realize you're older than a lot of celebrities out there, and then you're like, "Hey, I'm older than them. Why am I not famous?" Of course, I rarely say this out-loud, but it still passes through my head.
Now, past 25, I lose track of how old I am. One day at the book store, I told someone I was 25 (Ok, I was only a year off, but it was still strange that I couldn't remember off the top of my head). My exact words to a complete strange: "You should definitely read this [young adult] series. I love it and I'm 25." Today, when I tell people I'll be 27 in a few months, I laugh because I really feel 22 most days (Thank you, T-Swift). I have a few gray hairs making their debut, but I'm no longer upset about it. At this point, I feel like I've earned those gray hairs, and I'd be almost offended if my body didn't think I was "wise" enough to sport them.
My aunt said something really wise to me a few years ago. I was complaining about getting older, and instead of laughing at me and saying something like, "Ha! I'm in my 50s so you have no room to talk!" she gave me some great insight. She didn't deny your 20s are fun, but she said each decade has it's own unique and enjoyable attribute. In your 30s, you're learning more of who you are, in your 40s you care a lot less of what people think about you, and in your 50s...etc. It was a nice sentiment, but it didn't really click at the time.
At 26, I'm finally beginning to understand. Getting older is not a curse, because the parts of me I value are ageless. Yes, I do like having smooth, un-wrinkly skin, and I do get a kick out of looking a decade younger than I really am. But that pales in comparison to things that I'm steadily improving in with age. With each year, I gain new insights and ways of looking at things that make the world a far more interesting and meaningful place to call my home (my temporary home). I've learned so much about myself and my flaws, but also my strengths and how I can use them and bless others. I've learned that my faith HAS to be my own, and that walking with God in holiness is not restrictive but liberating. I've learned that 26 is too old to make excuses about being intentional about my relationships and taking care of my body and thinking about what I feed it. I've learned that 26 is only the beginning, not some sort of mournful end to youth. And the awesome part is that God is going to keep teaching me and showing me new perspectives and eureka moments with each passing year, month, week, and day that will further illuminate my perspective on life. At 26, it's refreshing to finally care less about things that don't matter and embrace the things that do. I'm enjoying life, and I'm enjoying this process of self-discovery alongside my Maker.
Here's to many more birthdays and eureka moments.