It's here. The final year of me being in my twenties.
The last couple years, I've hardly noticed the age I am. Mostly because my age hasn't really been on my mind or if it has it because people don't quite believe my actual age when I tell them. Being sick since I was 22 meant that my birthdays weren't really celebrated like the used to be. I didn't go out drinking or clubbing like I did in my university years, I felt too unwell to do that or I didn't want to risk being sick afterwards. And as my IBD developed and became harder to treat, I was just too damn tired to want to celebrate.
This year, well, I want to do something.
The thing is, I don’t know what.
I always felt pressurised to want to do something on my birthday, every year, since I can remember. And whilst sickness got in the way, I was glad I was too unwell to do anything huge and planned and ‘epic’. That specific pressure has gone – meaning that I don’t let it control me as much as I used to; a silver lining cloud to living with a chronic illness, I guess – but it’s been replaced with an age specific one.
NEXT YEAR I WILL BE THIRTY.
Thirty; when I was a young eighteen, felt like a million years ago. Slowly but surely, time ticked on and its next year now.
I feel the pressure to have my life together and settled down by then.
I feel the pressure to have a plan on what I am going to do and everything like that.
I feel some pressure to make a life with my partner now; it’s been five years already.
And whilst some of those things definitely spur me on to get on with my life – my new life now with my ostomy makes those things ‘achievable’ – the others make me sad.
I don’t feel close to thirty. I don’t feel or look my age. Why is that a bad thing, again?
Thirty seems to be the age when your life should be sorted and you’re working towards later life. But I’m only just now starting to find my career path. I am only just moving away from my family home. I am only just beginning my life with a new sort-of anatomy. For me, life is beginning now and it is not going to be sorted and settled by the time next year rolls around. But still, there is the pressure. It’s a dull throb in the back of my head. It mostly goes away but when it is right up there, causing me metaphorical pain; I listen to it. When I know I shouldn’t.
What is perceived to be ‘normal’ and ‘done by this age and time in life’ is bullshit. I spent my twenties unsure of myself and my life, then sick and wondering how on earth I was going to get my life back together again. I would compare myself and my lack of achievements to those of all my university acquaintances. It did not make me feel better, but it was a hard cycle to break. People kept achieving big life goals – marriage, buying houses, kids, new careers and promotions – and all I did was bounce from pointless job to pointless job with some stints in hospital in between.
What I do know now is that it takes some personal strength and resilience to stand up for yourself and not let other achievements get you down. You have plenty of your own goals to set and smash. You have plenty of time to figure things out, it doesn’t happen overnight, there is no quick fix. But! Hard work, determination and belief will get you far. They will help you go far.
And so what, if by the time I’m thirty I’m still not ticking all those big life goals?
I’ve got my own goals. Smashing them in my own slow and steady way.
It was the tortoise who won the race, after all.