I turned 24 last week. Somehow I do not feel older at all. I expected to feel 24 and I don’t.
There are significant birthdays, that bring with them significant milestones in your life. And then there are the years in between. When you’re 13, you are a teenager, when you’re 16, you can drive, when you’re 18 you can vote, when you’re 21 you can drink.
With my birthday at the end of May, some of the in-between years still held certain milestones. The end of each year of my life was the end of a school year – a major transition period. When I turned 14 in May of 2004, I had finished middle school, got my braces off and got contacts – talk about transformation! When I turned 22, I graduated college. The very day of my 22nd birthday, I packed up my house in Delaware and moved back in with my parents.
These big events are what make you feel older. They are what give you the feeling that it’s the end of one thing and the beginning of something new. They make you step up, take responsibility, or do something different.
This year I turned 24, and Beyond Spots & Dots actually gives their employees the day off on their birthdays. It sounds exciting, and it’s not something many employers do. However, the more I thought about it, the more disappointed I became. Sure, I had off, but no one else did. My friends and family still had to work. So I would just be spending the day alone, running some errands or going to the gym (that’s exactly what I did). I had thought that this day off was such a great perk and I wanted it to be fun and special. I put more pressure on my birthday this year than I ever have – and this isn’t even a milestone.
I ended up having a great day, despite the fact that I was by myself. I hit the gym, went shopping, ran errands and caught up on Nashville. When Jim got home we went out to a fabulous dinner at Piccolo Forno.
But it came to my attention that somewhere between 22 and 24, I stopped feeling an age. In between there, I stopped being a number and I fell into this broader category of “20-something” that you read so much about on blogs and websites. They lump us all together like that. As if all the years of the 20’s are the same. As if a 22-year-old recent college graduate is going to have the same experiences, mindset, and goals as a 29-year-old, married and buying a house, with a kid on the way. I think that’s unrealistic – but here I am – 20-something.
As a 20-something, I feel that I am in limbo. Throughout your whole life as you grow up, you recognize two sets of people. You go to school and you see the other kids around you. Your life is the predictable routine of school and friends. Even through college, you’re still in school and you have no real responsibilities. Those are the kids. Then you also recognize the adults – the parents who have taken care of you, teachers, grandparents, everyone who has a job and a house and kids and a family dog.
But as you grow up, you realize that there is this stage in your 20’s where you are decidedly not a child anymore but you do not yet feel like an adult. You are not married yet and you do not own a home. You might have a job, but you don’t feel that it is permanent at this time. Your parents still hold a few accounts in their name because it is cheaper and you’re not quite qualified for full work benefits. Health insurance is a non-option so you’ll just wait until you’re 26 to figure that one out. This is 20-something.
Twenty-somethings aren’t defined by a number. We are working on a career, relationships and saving money. We are growing up.
I am at this place in my life where I have so much to look forward to. Really, what is 24, if not opportunity? Just don’t be surprised if you ask me my age and I say “20-something.” I won’t be in this category for long.