“When did life become so serious and real?” I asked my friend as I swirled red wine around in my glass while sitting at a chic bar. A year ago you would have found us drinking PBR at a bar with sticky floors coated with day-old spilled booze. She just smiled and took a big gulp of her wine because even she didn’t have an answer. Life seemed to have gone by so fast. It feels like just yesterday my friends and I were stealing liquor from our parents and sneaking out of the house, like I just went to prom, like I just graduated from high school, like I just moved all my crap into my first college dorm…the list could go on and on. I sit here now at 23 next to my best friend thinking about all the milestones that we have accomplished up until this point and all the milestones we have yet to hit—getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, having a baby. The only intimidating part about the rest of these milestones is that they aren’t laid out for us as they once were.
At 15 we are desperately waiting to turn 16 so we can get our drivers license, at 16 for the big house party like the one’s featured on MTV (which are never on par with your fantasy), 18 for going off to college, 21 for finally being able to say to a cop “yes, this drink in my hand is legal”, and 22 for leaving college and entering the real world.
Once you pass the age of 22, the obligatory milestones of life become totally dependent on your wants, your situation, your financial standing; nothing is set in stone. I have friends getting married at 20 and friends getting married at 30. Some are having children at 23 and others don’t want kids until their 30’s. At this point in our lives, we’re just adults aimlessly wandering around in some sort of milestone wasteland waiting for the next event to occur. For those “free spirit” individuals out there, not knowing when you’ll come across life’s next big milestone may be exciting. But if you’re a classic Type A (like me) it can be incredibly frustrating. I spent years of my life trying to figure things out, trying to plan everything and micromanage. I had a 10-year plan at the age of 16 that, in my mind, was picture perfect. 16-year-old me thought that by now, I would have some sort of fenced in yard with a drooling golden retriever and a hard working hubby who brought home flowers every day after work. My life looks nothing like this at the moment and that’s perfectly ok. I have learned to stop thinking about life events as time-stamped checkboxes. There is no right or wrong time to do anything and we shouldn’t have to be on a set life schedule.
So whether you’re rocking parenthood, chasing a professional dream, stuck in school for the next 8 years, or still drinking PBRs at bars with beer soaked floors, go ahead and celebrate that you’ve made it this far.