I initially felt kind of weird about the fact that I’m turning 25 this year. Then I learned that California Raisins, Koosh Balls, and Photoshop are also celebrating quadranscentennials. And that changed everything. Here’s a mostly unordered, stream-of-consciousness-type list of things that come to mind when I think about the milestone.
10. The real world is only going to get more real
After receiving a 5 on my AP Psychology Exam, I, a hubristic college freshman, waived the recommended introductory psychology course in favor of a Neurology course. I wouldn’t be caught dead in THAT course, I thought to myself as my eyes glanced over “Psyc 101” in all its Courier New glory. I lasted 20 minutes in that Neurology course, for no other reason than that I didn’t think I would “do well” and get an A. I was scared it would be hard. That I would struggle. That I might fail. So I ran away to negligible consequence. It’s going to become harder and harder to run away. From unimaginable, undesired, and sometimes interesting conflicts, I’ll have no choice but to follow through to some semblance of a conclusion.
9. I am so old
A few days ago, my brother reportedly asked my dad, “Can you believe it? If Pepper were a human, she would be starting high school this year.” My dad looked back and responded, “Can you believe it? Your sister is going to be 25.” Even my dad thinks I’m old.
8. But I don’t have to be fifty (yet)
Shortly before my 22nd birthday, I “officially” accepted that I have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, given that my grandparents on both sides had and have the disease. I gave up a lot of delicious things that day, maybe too many: sugar in coffee, cereal, sandwiches when I could help it, any and all desserts, grapes, berries, peaches, the painful list goes on. A few weeks later, a friend of my dad came over for coffee. “I’ll just have it black,” he said. “I’ve given up milk. I’m vegan now.” “What?” My dad asked surprised. Having gone to college with this friend, my dad knew that this was an uncharacteristic move. “I’ve cut a lot out of my diet. It’s just not worth it.” My dad looked back at him while finding the right words. “Would you rather live unhappily for eighty years or happily for seventy five?”
7. I am the average of my friends
One memorable fourth grade recess, my friend Emily* created an imaginary person named Square (if only she had been into alternative payments). “Nobody likes Square,” she told us. What accompanied were off-putting stories which made Square a completely undesirable entity. A week after Square was conceived, Emily told me a secret. One of many secrets I wish I had never been told. “Square,” she said to me with that mature air that most nine-year-olds can only wish for, “is Gina.” Gina, one of the other girls in our group. I was shocked. Our group splintered into the Pro- and Anti-Square camps and what followed were frequent lunch-time meetings with our teacher who tirelessly tried to reconcile a disintegrating friendship. I’ve recently realized that I don’t have just one solid group of friends — and I mean that to be a good thing. Instead, I have little grouplets and sometimes even one-off friends that don’t know any of my other ones. But my gauge is no longer whether a person will get along with all the other people I know, whether I can fit a Square peg into a round hole, so to speak. The question is whether a person can raise me to new levels as a human being, while I reciprocate.
*Name changed to protect identity
6. I only want riches in people and experiences
Last December, I observed two people who love each other quite a lot turn on each other. It was over a seemingly temporary financial situation. The scene was emotionally gruesome and I’m sure the metaphorical scar tissue won’t heal for years. Just moments later, they came together over a family emergency. A trivial argument was replaced by a profound reminder of the unpredictables of life. It was, perhaps, the most beautiful scene I wish to have never witnessed. It is the things in this world — physical and metaphysical — that make people ugly. I want to be surrounded by people and experiences that make me beautiful.
5. I can do something about what I want to be when I grow up
Growing up, I knew of only two colleges: UC Berkeley and Stanford. There were countless nights on which I would lie awake staring at the ceiling wondering what would happen if I didn’t get into either. Will I just not go to college? Not being a child prodigy, no solution could come of the academic worries of my ten-year-old self. There’s something romantic about the notion that I am now at a prime intersection to take (or build) a more concrete path on which to meander towards my professional goals.
4. Though I’m finally comfortable in my own skin (most of the time)
Over the ten years that I learned piano, I played in approximately forty piano recitals. An upcoming piano recital was the proverbial dam separating what should have been the carefree days of my childhood. I couldn’t see past it, and at times, I wondered if I ever would. Surprisingly, the piano playing itself only half contributed to my anxiety. The other half was my negative body image. People were going to stare at me and only me for at least seven minutes. Would it look like I had a little food baby from the side? Are my fingers fat? My thighs look like elephants when they’re pressed against the bench. It would be a lie to say that I am now fully in love with my body all the time. But it’s fair to say that I accept and respect what I’ve been given.
3. I’m still redefining myself (or Ro 2.0)
A few weeks ago, I was discussing my recent mugging with someone. “It’s interesting,” I noted, “this is probably the first time that I haven’t relied heavily on my parents for something relatively big and disturbing in my life. There’s something about my wanting to just handle it on my own. And anyway, what can they do? Nobody can fix this.” She looked at me knowingly. “You know, I’m not at all implying that it’s good this happened to you, but given that it has, maybe there is an every-so-thin silver lining. Perhaps this is expediting your transition into your understanding of being an adult.” These are the years in which we define ourselves as individuals. We create our own images of ourselves, not that of a parent or later, of a spouse. At age three, I became a big sister, but looked like a big brother, no thanks to my haircut. Until a few years ago, when I imagined what I looked like, I saw myself with a boy-cut. Of late, I’ve been seeing a different me. It’s still a bit blurry, but I definitely see her longer hair blowing in the wind.
2. Some of the best is yet to come
As I was driving him home from Tahoe yesterday, my brother started a sentence with, “Are you going to raise your kids by saying…” Being a parent is nowhere in my foreseeable future, but contemplating my answer to him made me realize how much more there is to come. A second life, practically. It’s kind of exhilarating.
1. And I’m kind of excited about it
All said and done, it’s happening this week. I may as well get on board.