999, What’s Your Emergency? I’m Having a Quarter-Life Crisis…

Does anybody else age in dog years? Somehow in the transition from 24 to 25 I’ve missed out on completing, like, at least 5 years’ worth of life goals. Maybe I’m just losing the plot. Barking mad, even. Ha ha.

I, like most people, had a timeline of life that I intended never to veer from – I’d be married by 21, first baby by 24, second by 26, third and done by 30. I’d own 3 Crufts-quality dogs and a well-kept home on an expanse of land in the rolling hills of goodness-knows-where. Glistening career by 25 and CEO of something by 31. Así de sencillo, ¿verdad?. My whimsical, sickeningly-optimistic teenage self dreamt up a perfect life plan between reading Nicholas Sparks books and watching Atonement on repeat (with the volume lowered because of the the ess eee eks scenes.)

So how does that measure up to now, 8 months into my 25th year of living?

Well, as I sit at the dining table of my freezing Barcelona apartment on a Tuesday afternoon in December, writing this post in a cereal-stained dressing gown with a plate of toast crusts to my right and the toddler that never sleeps living across the landing, all I can say is that it’s a good job I have a sense of humour! Now excuse me while I throw contraceptive pills down my throat and look at job listings on LinkedIn.

Turning 25 is a milestone for anybody, whether you’re a man, woman, or prefer not to identify.

You’re smack bang in the middle of your twenties – arguably the greatest years of your life (…right?). That means that you’re half-way to 50, or better put, a quarter of the way to 100. I mean, I’m no maths genius but you get where I’m going with this. It’s significant.

You’ve slithered out of your teens – years that were studded with anxieties, questionable life choices and uneven skin texture into the warm embrace of adulthood. The promised land of success, the gateway to all your hopes and dreams, a place where uncertainty doth not exist.

Your twenty-first, second, third and fourth birthdays drifted past you like blossom petals carried on a soft, springtime breeze,

and then WHOLLOP! You’re suddenly booted out of the technically-an-adult-but-still-endearingly-naive stage of your budding twenties and into the fiery pits of settling down and adult responsibilities.

In the brittle words of Rose DeWitt Bukater: “C-c-come back…?”

25 is the time when people actually begin to take you seriously. It’s also a time when friends and old classmates from school and university start getting married and/or pregnant on purpose and nobody bats an eyelid. In fact, at 25 you’re probably almost, if not already, your parents’ age when they had you. And yet you’re barely able to keep a cactus alive over winter…

I think the issue we’re facing nowadays is that we’re piling unnecessary pressure on ourselves to conform to unattainable standards. Social media allows us to keep tabs on people that we have never met and are never likely to. We’re privy to their every activity, be it note-worthy or mundane, but (over-)sharing elements of your private life has become a very real spectator sport of which we are often inadvertently involved. Suddenly the spectrum of people we are able to compare ourselves to (which would’ve been our closest peers and those we had literal access to before the emergence of social media sites) has been multiplied a thousand fold. Why am I now informed of what celebrities are having for breakfast or who’s having an extramarital affair? Why do I know that Kylie Jenner massages her arse with $300 cellulite cream when I’m literally NEVER going to meet her? Why am I able to see wealthy Middle Eastern pre-teens running off to high school in shoes whose value equates to more or less 3 months’ of my rent?

The urge, or even instinct to compare ourselves to all the people our age that we have access to increases with exposure and will only decrease with insisted and focused effort. It can be tricky, but it’s absolutely possible. So in an attempt to prevent my own descent into madness, I’m going to work on not comparing myself to other 25-year olds who (appear to) have their lives together. Because I don’t yet, so will always come out the loser. I think it’s essential to give yourself a chance to be the winner in life sometimes.

If I’m honest, when I think back to my 16-year old self’s idea of being 25, I can’t help but feel a strong sense of relief over my dramatic deviation from “the plan”. Things change, people change, life changes. And that latter point more than applies to me.

When I was 16, I didn’t expect to be living in one of Spain’s most vibrant cities and married to the man of my dreams, I also didn’t expect him to be American, let me tell you. I didn’t foresee being able to speak 3 languages fluently. I also didn’t think I would be unemployed and only recently convicted in my proposed career direction, I didn’t expect to be starting yet another blog when I have two half-baked attempts sitting, privated, in my WordPress readerboard. I also didn’t expect to be on my third bowl of cereal before lunchtime.

But that is the beauty of life’s complexities and unpredictability. You just never know what life has in store for you and the fact that you’ve lived to ring in 25 healthy years is a privilege greater than many can hope for. Despite my 25th year appearing like an explosion in a knitting machine, I know that when I’m 50 I will look back on this year as nothing more than a dropped stitch in life’s great tapestry. Ojalá, eh.

Nancy Levin says: “Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”

So as I stand in my cramped living room clutching a green smoothie and swaying gently from side to side as I sing along to Britney’s “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”, I like to think that this is exactly what she meant.

N.B. Albeit not the most orthodox way to begin a lifestyle/travel blog (or a blog of any kind for that matter), I do feel that authenticity from the writer makes for a more well-rounded and relatable experience for the reader. Humour me and nod along, please. Thank you.

Were you one of the lucky ones who had your twenties figured out? Or are you wallowing desperately in the trenches? Comment below. You’re safe here.

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