25 | Thoughts on not having your life together

I found a few of my old childhood diaries over Christmas. Amongst the ridiculous entries on teenage drama and moaning about how hard school was, spattered in between these entries were occasional list of things I wanted to have achieved by age 25.

The lists are long.

They include everything from fly around the World, visit Los Angeles, own a house, own a car, be married with babies on the radar, work in fashion, be performing on a West End stage, go to Drama School, graduate in English Literature, live in London, live in Paris, become a journalist, become a full time writer etc. The common theme was 25 was the age I was going to be sorted. I’d have figured it all out.

25 seemed so very old when I was a kid. It felt ‘adult’ and I definitely thought I would ‘have my life together’ by now.

Examining my life through the eyes of my childhood self, I am a failure. I don’t have my own home, or a boyfriend, let alone a fiance. I failed one of my A Levels and as a consequence never went to my first choice University. I’m not a published author, nor am I on track for a singing or acting career (probably for the best tbh).

Today is my 25th Birthday

And I’m no more certain as to what I actually want out of my life than I did when I was 10, or 15, or heck even 20.

What I have got at 25 is peace of mind that I’m am finally ok with that. I’m finally ok with not having my sh*t together.

I read a fantastic quote from Shonda Rhimes recently that got me thinking about this.

“If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other…You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous.”

We live in a world of aspirational Instagram worthy lifestyles, KonMari and Bullet Journals, capsule wardrobes and wellness bloggers. For many cis-women, we’re meant to have a great graduate job, a loving boyfriend-girlfriend/a great sex life/rolling set of Tinder dates to fall back on, immaculate Ikea fitted homes with mason jars and homemade kale smoothies in the fridge alongside our meal planned vegan dinners. We’re supposed to be social and live our lives to the fullest. But we’re also pushed to be reflective, write journals, talk politics and recognise our privilege, be active feminists and social justice warriors. We’re supposed to be Tough Mudder competitors or Triathlon warrior women but also the feminine combination of Kylie Jenner, Blake Lively and Beyonce.

Whilst it may not feel like it we have some much more freedom to be who we want to be than the women before us, but freedom is often overwhelming.

Shonda’s quote serves as a lovely reminder that even the most successful women, even Emmy award winning producers who’s shows basically keep entire US television networks afloat, are ‘failing’ by societies standards. And for her that’s ok.

Sometimes in world ruled by social surveillance and careful profile curation I feel like we all need to be a bit more aware that we are not infallible beings. We make mistakes. We are going to f*ck up and most importantly we are not going to have perfect lives 24/7. Even trying to achieve that standard of living would likely push you to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.

Now at 25 I have finally come to some peace with the idea of not having my sh*t together and I’m done pretending to the world otherwise.

I may not be a popstar or published author, but I’m working in an industry that I’m really interested in. I may not be married, but I know my self worth is not based on my romantic entanglements. I value and love my family and friends so very much. I want to travel before tethering myself to a place or a person, and even then I want to experience the World in its entirety. I’m blessed with privilege and the freedom to potentially return to studying one day, move to another country, or change my career entirely. My ambition is still there. I’m still a dreamer, a writer and feels so very passionate about people. I also get jealous, am stubborn and can be a real dick. I’m not a perfect person and should never prescribe to be one.

The ‘me’ at 25 is content.

  • Happy birthday you wonderful human!

    I had a similar reflective train of thought when I turned 25; it feels like such a milestone age and yet I felt less like an adult than ever when I eventually reached it. I think it’s okay to remember and accept that things today are much different to how us 90s kids imagined whilst growing up and dreaming of the future. We won’t emulate our parents and the baby boom generation, the economical and political landscape has seen to that, but it’s important to realise our self-worth and how that’s not necessarily attached to tangible achievements, you know?

    Have a bonus birthday gin and tonic for me, Ria! <3

  • Happy birthday Ria! Like you when I was younger I’d imagined myself on a different life trajectoy, including getting married at 27… I’m not closer to marriage at 24 than I was at 13! But like Michelle said – we’re not the same person we were when we planned this all out, and the world’s not the same either. Hope you had a good one!

  • Happy belated birthday :) yay for contentment and hope things are wonderful as life goes forward!

  • I so want to get a hold of my old diaries out of storage – I can imagine they’d be pretty amusing.

    It’a amazing how old we thought ‘old’ was at school, wasn’t it? I always thought 25 was the ideal age to be married, have a good job etc like you. What’s with 25!?

    I’m 26 now and I still feel like I’m in high school. There’s no way I’ve got any of my stuff together. Have to remind myself that that’s totally okay. I’m happy, I have a great job, amazing friends – no bf prospects but time will tell, tomorrow’s another day, lots of fish, etc – and life is pretty swell.

    Love this post, Ria. :)

    P.S Happy Birthday!