On Turning 26

My birthday was on Sunday, and every year I insist on celebrating a “birthday week celebration”, not just the one day. This week is my birthday week. Think of it as an extended “Treat yo’self” Parks and Recs style. My husband trekked with me to St. Louis for the day, helping me enjoy my “act like a kid” day. We went sledding and ate giant root beer floats from Fitz’s. I got what I always wanted for my birthday: diabetes.

This year I am turning 26, and I realize that I am past that phase of life where I can blame my idiosyncrasies and my immature choices on my youth. I’m not young anymore, I’m firmly in my mid 20’s. -cue panic attack- Now when I wear my quirky and sometimes ironically inappropriate sweaters, I do so with the realization that I can only get away with it because I am in grad school and I look like I’m 20.

I have really enjoyed being 25. I was able to take several life changing trips around the world and I found through my travels a new perspective on what I was capable of and what I value out of life. Some people might classify my self-journey as a Quarter Life Crisis, and maybe it was. Like the middle aged man who buys a sports car to compensate for his mediocrity, I find excuses to travel the world to combat my own world becoming smaller and smaller.

I have probed my inner thoughts and hidden feelings to self-assess my issues in life. I have made some good headway by searching deeply in my soul, but it has been hard to take an honest look at myself. I find that I am not as confident in myself as I should be. I find that I still fall into the same mistakes and patterns I swore years ago I would be done with by now. I am much more mature than I was in my early 20’s. Granted, I still allow myself to do quirky things like take pictures of my Pygmy Puff, Gloria. (search: #gloriathepygmypuff) This is probably the best part of being in my mid-20’s. I do not apologize for being me. 

I value my friendships and my family more than ever, relying on them for support and wisdom. I have learned by 26 that I should always listen to the wise counsel of my parents. They typically end up being right. (Take heart parents everywhere.) I still look up to my older brothers the same way I did when I was 10, but now it’s more fun because I think they recognize and encourage me to be the force that I am. Though my closest friends are scattered across the world, I still feel connected to them more now than ever, because we have half a decade or more of meaningful time together.

I am turning 26, and I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. I know I have about 10 different things I could do well and feel fulfilled, but I also realize that I am not the kind of person who will settle for one thing when I have 9 other things I think are equally important. I’m a Renaissance Woman, dang it. (aka at times extremely unfocused on what’s important.) I think this is part of having an entrepreneurial mind. Or possibly I am a secret genius or I have ADHD, but I have never figured out which. Ask me when I turn 40.

When I get that question southerners love to ask young married women, “So when are you gonna have children?” I find myself becoming more annoyed and less apologetic than when I was 22. Part of me is annoyed because I know now that at 26 my life is not worthless without children, and part of me is annoyed because I can’t control my future. I have to leave that part of my life completely up to God, and I sometimes don’t like giving control to Him.

I might be 26 now, but I am smart enough to know that I don’t know anything at all, except that I have good intentions, questionable wisdom, and unquenchable love for pancakes and chocolate.

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