A few days ago, I celebrated my 25th birthday. Twenty-Five. In truth, it felt the same as any other birthday. Far from who I once was, but not yet what I’m going to be. Yet, this age still carries the perception of a milestone age. And I guess to some extent, it is. Why though? Why is this age so significant? Why does it feel like we should accomplish something by this time? Many begin to think about where they are in life, inevitably becoming unsatisfied. I don’t feel any of that. Thankfully. Once you have a clear vision of your path, and realize that dates are just numbers on calendars, you really stop measuring your life based on these set timelines.
Personally, I have only two fears going into turning 25. Number one: Not having enough time in 5 years to fit all of the things I want to accomplish before the next imaginary benchmark of 30. I don’t have many regrets about 24, other than I would have just liked even more time. I’m sure by the end of the next 5 years, I’ll be wishing for the same.
The second fear is one that is much scarier. It comes from the fact that things are as good as they are right now. Because over and over again in my life, these periods of great happiness, times where I felt like I began to figure things out, where I liked where everything was, and everything just seemed to begin to click, it all ended way too soon for my liking. We all have our own versions of these stories of transitions, but these were mine.
I suppose the first instance came when I was 12 years old. I loved my childhood neighborhood, and resented being unexpectedly moved from there for many years after. It wasn’t my parents fault for moving, their reasons for the move were extremely logical, but at 12 years old I didn’t understand that. I felt ripped away from all my friends, traditions, and any reputations I had built up there, and moved somewhere that, by comparison, no one knew me. I was not yet old enough to appreciate the perks of anonymity.
Not once, but twice in high school this happened again for me. I loved my Freshman year in a traditional all boys high school, only to have it merge with a nearby all girl high school, where the environment was completely different, and I just hated it. The staff seemed to have had a hard time adjusting to the influx of 400 or so pubescent teenage males now roaming the hallway, and seemed to react by making everyone’s life hell. I personally found myself in a misery which was partially from unfortunate out of school circumstances completely out of my control, and partially self induced from taking myself WAY too seriously. After a long period of adjustment that included a feud with the disciplinarian, suspensions, many personal conflicts and worse, for whatever reason, I had this epiphany where I felt like something clicked, and at 18, I began to enjoy my high school and senior year for what it was, and not focus so much on what it wasn’t, and things that could have been. I clearly remember having this thought, and realization one day. Unfortunately, no more than probably two weeks later, I graduated, never stepping foot in the building again. Just like that it was over. By this point, I was getting beyond tired of starting over. Even with all of the good memories, there’s never a thought of high school that crosses my mind where I don’t think to myself “Man, what a regret, I’d like to do a lot of that over with new eyes.”
There are lots of other instances too numerous to mention. For whatever reason, just when things would begin to click like that, they would end just as fast, very abruptly, and more often than not would be followed with some very trying times. For years I constantly would find myself chasing my tail, making great progress, then having to start over from scratch. When you’re young, you have no perception that everything carries an expiration date. Maybe that is life to some degree, but I don’t think anyone could blame me for wishing to have just a little bit longer to bask in these periods once I actually had my eyes open.
My younger self took things for granted. Time. Moments. Relationships. People. Being unaware of the things I am vividly aware of now. That each moment we live in will never ever be duplicated exactly as it is again. If it’s bad, make the best of it, appreciate it for what it is. And if it’s good then enjoy it. Cherish it. Now, I happen to have a belief that if we have the right perspective, cherish these moments as they happen, in the moment, and give them the proper appreciation, that they can live forever, unlike the sea of gone too soon moments from my adolescence.
What I’m left myself with is facing the challenge of my own mentality, which to put it in simple terms is: if I take my foot off the gas for one second, if I stopped pedaling as hard as I am, loosened my grip, slipped off, or let up for one moment, this all collapses. I don’t know whether that is something that works for me, or against me, a detriment or a compliment, but either way, it’s become what makes me who I am at this point in my life. It’s made me a more intense person. But it’s made me a more passionate person as well. It’s made me take less things for granted. Its maybe made it harder to step back, and appreciate things completely, as well. It’s made me an extremely passionate person. And it’s made me someone who clings to moments a little bit more tightly, because I vowed a long time ago to try not to take anything for granted ever again.
– Nick Dee