Well, today is my 27th birthday. And while writing a blog post about getting older is mostly just a thinly veiled plea for birthday attention, I actually do like to think about what getting older means each time it continues to happen to me. I’ve always loved my birthday, as any basic white girl does, but I’ve realized that even the most obnoxiously rowdy celebration (yeah, I’m the girl who wears a tiara) won’t protect you from thinking about how you’re not getting any younger.
I started freaking out about getting older at 22, which I think is pretty common and also totally insane. It’s the first age you’re no longer waiting for permission for something. Sure, it’s more expensive to rent a car before you’re 25, but who cares. All that matters is that you can vote, you can get tattoos, and you can drink—you are legit at 21. After that, it can feel like it’s all downhill.
After 22, I would celebrate my birthday dutifully, but I would also panic a little more every year. These panic spirals included:
- “OMG my mom got married at 22 and I’m 22 now and just made out with someone with a girlfriend. IS THIS WHAT I’M DOING WRONG” (I mean, yes, it was, but that’s a different issue.)
- “Well, okay. At least at 23, I promise myself not to fall out of a cab a single time this year.” (I kept that promise — you go, girlfriend!)
- “BLAH I’m 24 and I always imagined that I’d be so rich and settled at 24 and my parents still pay for my Ubers, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”
- “OH GOD I’m 25 years old. I am supposed to be a legitimate adult by now and instead I threw up in my trash can last night.”
- “FOR CRYING OUT LOUD I’m turning 26 and I still haven’t finished college. Am I the biggest failure of all time?”
But then, at a friend’s birthday dinner, after everyone was making her feel bad for turning 25 (yeah, I’m serious), she told us how she refused to be sad about getting older, and quoted Peter Pan to us. Never the biggest Peter Pan fan, it was one I didn’t remember, but cherish deeply now.
“To live would be an awfully big adventure.” J.M. Barrie – Peter Pan
Well, isn’t that just the best thing you’ve ever heard?
Successfully growing older is such a treat. With each new year, you gain new adventures. Sure, some of these adventures include finding a patch of gray hairs, or drinking the same amount as your 22-year-old friend and having a hangover that lasts for two days while she feels fine five hours later. But there are so many beautiful adventures awaiting us as we age — no matter what type of future we are planning.
After hearing this quote, I’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. Instead of worrying, I’m excited.
I don’t mind getting older. I don’t mind telling you my age. I look forward to my birthday as a day to act a little more spoiled than I should and a symbolic reminder of the new adventures to come. I no longer look at my new age and think, “well, I was supposed to have done X by now” or “well, she was doing X by my age.” Of course these thoughts will creep in sometimes when I least expect them and can least handle them—that’s the way limiting thoughts work. But I won’t let them have power over me anymore.
Also, the changes that come with age can be pretty great. Here are a few things I’ve noticed about growing older that I truly love:
- I have fewer friends, but that’s okay because the ones I have are the ones I want.
- I go out less and that’s amazing because going out is the worst, let’s be honest.
- I spend more and more time doing the things I want to do and less time doing the things I think I’m supposed to do.
- I feel more obligated to take better care of my body, because it’s just not going to run the way it used to if I treat it like crap.
- I feel more comfortable with myself every year. There is no point in beating myself up for the quirks so deeply embedding in who I am.
- I’m no longer tempted to delete an instagram that has less than 11 likes — who really gives a shit if my instagram wasn’t popular? No one, that’s who.
- I just start doing some things I’ve always wanted to do instead of worrying about if I’m ready. I want to write, so I’m going to write.
- I find joy in being responsible about things! And a greater ability to laugh it off when I’m not.
- I no longer need drama to find a relationship compelling.
- I may be tired more often if I don’t get the right amount of sleep but getting the right amount of sleep is THE BEST. And now I mostly do it?
See? Now doesn’t that really endorse aging right there?
I hope you look at your birthday and growing older the same way. Every year, you should get a prize for being alive, so let people celebrate your birthday. And every year, a new adventure awaits you, if only you’re willing.
Let’s do this, 27.