It’s finally happening. I’m turning my scary age tomorrow. The terrifying 2-7.
Two years ago when this whole scary age situation came about I said there was a chance I’d adjust for inflation once the number arrived, but now that it’s here I’ve decided it stays. Not because I am petrified to be turning 27, devastated that my early 20’s are over, depressed about what’s the come and other such Cathy Comic strip shit. It’s not about that. It’s about where this number falls in the arc of life and how that makes me feel about where I’ve been and where I’m going.
It’s like Katie said in that original post, “it’s the point at which I feel like I really have to get my life together – like every decision from here on out has to be really deliberate towards some kind of end life happiness.”
I’m sure 30-year-olds are rolling their eyes at this decision, 35-year-olds are about to stop reading, and people my parent’s age (if not my actual parents) are making that, “if you think 27 is scary…” face. They’re all right and valid, but so am I.
In many, many ways these days, age is just a number. You can get married at 25 or 40 and still have a biological family. You can change your career every decade for your entire life. You can start your 30s in incredible debt and end them a millionaire. Martha Graham was a prima ballerina at 50-something and Doogie Howser was an M.D. at 15. Our options are limitless.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel a certain way about hitting certain numbers, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to our pacing along the way. In my head there are things, career-wise, that I’ve always wanted to accomplish by the time I’m 30. If I get there without checking them off the list I won’t be a failure, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t set goals and work to hit them. One of those things is to become a (legitimately) published author. 30 is a very young age to make that happen – I know and appreciate that – but if I don’t draw a line in the sand how am I supposed to stay motivated and prioritized? In the same way there are certain things, personal-things-wise, that I’d like to experience before I leave m 20s. One of those is to be in a long-ish term, committed relationship (so, longer than 5 months). That’s not me saying I have to be married by 30- not at all. That’s a goal because I think it is life enhancing to learn all the lessons that a committed relationship teaches while in your 20s. And so I look at myself at 27 and say, where have I been and what does that mean? What do I want, and how do I go about finding it?
27, to me, is that point at which you say, time to point the fun and games in a specific direction, time to take those major risks that you’re in perfect shape to make happen, time to take stock or do an audit or whatever cliché works best and say, okay, good, but what if I just absolutely went for everything I really, truly desire.
But when I originally picked my scary number it was about that pit in your stomach you feel when you realize you forgot to take the perfect picture at a given even that’s never going to happen again. That, shit-I-missed-it feeling. Now that I’m actually here at 27 things are no less scary, but in a totally unexpected turn of events I feel like I want that scary.
I want to have that pressure of feeling like there are items to check off in my 20s. I’m excited about drawing lines in the sand and pacing to meet them. The whole idea of the gravity of this point in life is exhilarating. It’s not my scary age because I suspect I’ll find my first grey hair before I turn 2-8. It was never about that. It’s about the fact that the number 2-7- and where it falls in the scheme of life charges me with a motivation to commit to my passions and dive at the risks that requires.
So I’m scared, yes. But at 27 I’d rather be scared with a purpose than fearless without a cause. I like to think it’s just the motivational emotion I’ll need for the adventure that’s to come in my 27th year.