Partner 2 is approaching a milestone birthday this year. His friends are succumbing one by one to the big 3-0. The first victim fell graciously, shrugging and saying it was no big deal.
Relentless teasing and jokes aside, I’ve come to realise that my own milestone birthday is approaching. Not a milestone by traditional standards, but my ‘scary age’. My throat catches when I realise I’ll be 26 at the end of the year.
That pause was to accommodate the eye rolls of all those older than 26 and the terrified nodding of those who aren’t.
It’s all about supposed to’s really.
By 26, one is supposed to have laid the foundations of a career.
By 26, one is supposed to be on the responsible road to home ownership.
By 26, one is supposed to be checking champagne glasses for potential choking hazards in the form of sparkly rings.
I’m the first one to call bullshit on all these societal expectations, maaaan. Truth is, I’m perfectly happy exactly where I am. Here is exactly where I want to be. Not forever, of course, but it’s great for now. Yet still, the ‘scary age’ looms on the horizon.
The obvious solution would be to throw myself into this year. Squeeze every last drop of spontaneity and youthful exuberance out of my 25th year so when I do turn 26, which in my mind transforms me into a world-weary senior in a rocking chair, I can look back on my well-spent youth with a nostalgic smile. “Those were the days,” I’ll sigh and unwrap a hard-boiled lolly.
A better, perhaps less exhausting and expensive, solution would probably be to look into this whole ‘scary age’ thing. Some fairly perfunctory research (cough, googling), reveals that the source of the phrase is that almighty pinnacle of womanhood, Sex and the City. Wow. Further googling research reveals that it’s mostly women who seem to have a concept of what their scary age is, and that it is, in most cases, related to getting married and ticking biological clocks. Gross. More broadly than that, it’s about expectations. About where people thought their lives would be at a certain point.
That’s never really been my thing. My most dreaded job interview question is “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. Because I never really think about. I’m more concerned about what’s for lunch and maybe what I’m going to do on the weekend. Mature, right?
Maturity may well be the crux of my scary age conundrum. Mentally, I’m 17 and still deciding what I want to do when school finishes. Maybe that explains while I’m still at uni… Anyway, somehow I’ve decided that 26 is the age that you can no longer be a teenager at heart and that 26 is the age when you have to Grow Up. Which is complete rubbish. Partner 2 is living, breathing proof that you can still be a teenager at the age of 29.
Really, age is no measure of maturity. There are a thousand clichés to this effect. “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”, “growing old is not growing up”, and of course, “age is just a number, maturity is a choice”, a quote that, upsettingly, Google attributes to Harry Styles from One Direction…
Clichés are clichés for a reason though. There is, of course, truth in the misquoted, unattributed idioms laid over My Ecard pictures. My favourite one, was (hopefully) from Yoko Ono, who said that “Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90… time is a concept that humans created”. This appeals to my escalating crunchy aesthetic, so I will try and think of Yoko when the thought of a scary age pops into my head. What Would Yoko Do?
At the end of the day though, actually reaching your scary age is a lot less scary than the alternative: not reaching it… A little morbid, but perspective is always important.
So what was your scary age? How did you cope/how are you coping?