I’ll be turning 26 next month and I have to admit that I’m not ready for it. In fact, I haven’t been ready for the last several birthdays. I stopped enjoying my birthday around age 21 and since then it’s been a day I look forward to it with nothing but dread. Now, I still celebrate with my family in the most American way possible: baseball game and apple pie, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fun day. Honestly, I wish we could right from June 30th to July 2nd and just skip July 1st.
I don’t like my mid-20’s because it feels like I’m behind where I should be. When I was 19 and met someone who was 26 I would think about how much they must have their life together and how wise they must be. They probably have investments that pay them insane dividends each month and they probably vacation multiple times a year. This is what you do when you’re 26…right? I spend hours devouring the Forbes 30 under 30 list wondering why I’m not making $12 million at a Silicon Valley startup. Ugh.
Even though I’m almost 26 I still feel like I’m 19 years old. I still worry about what people think about me, I worry about why some people don’t want to be friends with me, I wonder why I didn’t just go to college and get a good paying job. I replay scenes from high school in my head with alternate endings where I’m the victor instead of the victim. I reflect about the teachers from high school who shot me down and I don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about the teachers who raised me up. I constantly second guess my career choice. I wonder if I haven’t figured everything out by 26 how will I figure out by the time I’m 30? I don’t want to end up like Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible.
This is the annual battle that goes on in my head. Apparently it’s a real thing to have a quarter life crisis. I don’t know all the psychology behind all of it but someone can have a quarter life crisis when they feel like they are loosing their grip on youth and a carefree lifestyle. They feel like they are being forced to grow up, a sort of Peter-Pan-effect. I’m the opposite. I feel like I haven’t done enough. There isn’t enough time to get everything done that I want to accomplish. I wish I had started sooner. I feel like I’m ready to be in my mid-30’s for crying out loud.
Both my wife and I don’t do things most people our age do. I don’t play video games, at all, she doesn’t binge watch Netflix. We have three kids, we’ve owned two houses, we’ve lived thousands of miles away from family and did just fine. We’ve picked ourselves up by our bootstraps when things were tight financially. Yet I still feel like a child sometimes. When I go to networking meetings I always feel like no one is going to take me serious since “I’m only 25”.
The last few weeks while I’ve been thinking of ways to not celebrate my birthday this year my wife and I have been discussing why I dislike getting older. Not just getting older, but the feeling of getting older faster. My wife said it’s a mindset that needs to be shifted. My confidence should be in God. Not in my accomplishments. I couldn’t agree more even if I usually seem like I actually believe it. It’s the truth.
Everyone does things at a different pace and everyone has a different version of success. I’d rather have a wildly successful marriage than be making millions on the verge of divorce. I’d rather my three kids than have more time for my business. If getting married at 19 and having kids at 21 puts me a little behind on my career track then what’s really the issue with that? If I’m 42 when I realize my “dreams” what’s wrong with that?
So for now, I’m working on learning to appreciate each year of life that God has blessed me with. It’s been almost 26 years on planet Earth and I’m still here. What more could I ask for?