If fifteen years ago someone had asked my ten-year-old self where I’d like to be by 25, the answer would be completely different to my current reality. As I grow older, with as much grace as I can muster, I realise more and more how the plans we make for ourselves are just blurry guidelines for an ideal future.
I don’t mean to say that things are out of our control and it’s impossible to get what we want – what I mean is something completely different; quite often our dreams and goals and ambitions change, and the dreams and goals we fight for are miles away from what we imagined ourselves doing when we were in fifth grade and liked drawing.
For all of you out there, it’s 100% possible to fight hard for your dreams and get to where you want to be in life. But the key to this is to not beat yourself up for not getting there fast enough, and never doubt yourself if you find that you’re wanting something different than what you planned out. Life is a journey, and journeys have different pathways. You may believe one single way to be the right one, but once you dip your toes into a little street that veers slightly off to the side, you find yourself more drawn to that end goal than the one you originally pursued. You’re not betraying yourself by changing your goals – and that is something I had to come to terms with more than once these past few years.
Yesterday, I turned 25.
Which doesn’t change much – I still look 18 without makeup on, and I still get asked for I.D. every time I try to buy cheap 4% alcohol fruit cider at Aldi. But when I woke up all I could feel was disappointment – I didn’t have an Amazing Career (TM) or a Great Relationship. Instead I spent the morning moping about being single and unemployed and it was only later in the day, meeting up with friends I love who have always cared for me in the brightest and darkest of times, that I realised I’m actually so much farther ahead than I thought I was, and that I’ve done so much more with my 25 years of life than a lot of people I know.
So here are a few things that I am proud of in my life and that I have learned about myself.
- Even though they are all quite far (from London to Lisbon) I am proud of myself for being able to effortlessly keep my best and oldest friendships. I have been best friends with Mariana (above) for 21 years now – we met in kindergarten – and we are still the same as we were when we first met: utterly inseparable. I met Miltos (also above) four years ago through Twitter and through various arguments and rocky patches we are still amazingly close and he is always there for me when I am going through a rough patch. I have known Tony since 2011, I call him my brother and there is never a time when he doesn’t try to make me think that I am better than my opinion of myself. And by now everyone knows about Diana and Alycia who are there for me literally every day, make me feel like I am the most special human on Earth and take care of me like only older sisters would.
- I have travelled the world thanks to the parents I was blessed with and I have the clarity of mind and actual interest of delving as deeply as possible into the culture of any place I visit. This has allowed me to be more tolerant and have a much wider and more aware interpretation of the world around me.
- I am always trying to learn and I don’t think I will ever stop. Something that my parents have instilled in me is the idea that one is never perfect and that we should never rest on our laurels. I like working hard. I like learning. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as I want to be and that’s exactly the point – to keep evolving. And I am proud of myself for never thinking “Okay, that’s enough, I guess I’ll stop now”.
- I get over heartbreak easily. Maybe because of pride, because somewhere deep inside I know that I deserve better than being treated a certain way, or because I know that I don’t need someone to be complete. I am more complete and fulfilled now than I was months ago. I know where I’m going, for now, and that’s heaps better than attaching my hopes and dreams to someone else.
- I am stronger than I think. I have faced adversity, though not severe, too many times to count. I used to panic when faced with big problems and nearly shut down but now I have a very unemotional approach to everything. I look at that big rock in my path and I think “Okay, there’s a rock. How do I go around it?”. I think, I analyse, I solve problems. And if it’s out of my control, I shrug and I walk away. Life is too short for despair and self-pity. Time goes on even when you don’t.
I think, all thinks considered, I’ve done a lot in my 25 years of life. I keep moaning to my friends about how I “am not where I wanted to be” and “haven’t done all the things I planned to have done by the time I was 25”. But I’m sure a lot of us wanted to be astronauts when we were 5 and are now in accounting, a lot of us who studied Art in high school are now working in Communications.
It’s not about reaching a pre-established checkpoint. It’s about being on the right path.
And even though I’m nowhere near the checkpoint I’d like to be at at 25, I know with absolute certainty, for the first time in my life, that I am on the right path. Because more than ever I am keeping my doors open to any opportunity that I might enjoy, without discarding it because “it doesn’t fit my end goal”.
My end goal now?
Learn, evolve, continue to become a better person every day and keep my loved ones close to me.
Life moves like the waves of the ocean, but as long as you are your own rock, you will always know where you stand.