I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you’ve been thinking that 25 is the age all your problems are going to be solved, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not bright over here, my friends. I found out the hard way.
They told me that 25 was the time I would become a real grown-up. That, at 25, my animated arms would stop knocking over glasses of wine every time I wanted to articulate something. That I would be completely happy in my own skin. That I would be settled, have a direction, be composed. That I would feel like an adult. I’m not sure who told me. Perhaps it was the Church. Maybe it was older friends trying to make me feel better. It could have just been teenage me, or too many episodes of One Tree Hill – because starting a successful fashion line in high school is totally a thing. But here I am, 25-and-a-half and not any of the things I was promised. And to cement the fact that I am a bad person, I kind of hope you’re not quite there either.
But to redeem myself, I’ve surveyed some people who have recently reached the big 25 and found five lies that pretty much all of us believed. So, if you believe these, stop now and it will all be ok. Probably.
1. I will know what I want to do with my life
With a grown up age comes a grown up job – at 25, people have a career. You should know exactly what you’re doing, exactly where you’re going, have a five-year plan, a pension, and a LinkedIn account.
Except, that’s not how it works. Some of my friends have had careers they’ve pursued since they were at school, and that’s great. Others of us float a bit; we fall into things and just hope we land on our feet. That used to stress me out, but now I think it’s ok too. There’s still time to figure it out. Jesus changed careers at 30, and I don’t think David had planned to be a king. I am really thankful to have a good job that I enjoy, but if God wants me to go and do something else, I’m glad I haven’t got any plans to let go of.
2. God and I will have it sorted
When I was a teenager, there were so many things I didn’t understand about God and the Bible. But that was probably because I was a teenager and I hadn’t read the entire book. At 25, I believed all my questions would be answered and I would be serene and spiritual.
That was nonsense. My teenage self had no idea how good she had it.
Because the longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve seen – good and bad. I hadn’t really thought about how those bad things would throw up hundreds of new questions about the nature of God. And nobody told me that reading the Bible would unearth as many new questions as the ones it answered.
I wish my younger, more optimistic self had been right. But a wise person once told me that it’s ok to have questions as long as you don’t run away from them. And the more I realise how little I know, the more I grasp how much I need God. And that has to be good, right?
3. I’ll be married
Twenty-five and still single – didn’t see that one coming. All those ‘just stepped out of a catalogue’ young Christian couples and families I met as a child led me – inadvertently, I’m sure – to believe that at 25 I’d be married, with probably a child or two in tow.
That was a lie. Possibly a good thing for those poor, imaginary children.
But find me a 25-year-old Christian who has never been asked in church when they’re going to get married, or why they haven’t got a boyfriend/girlfriend and I will pay you highly – what defines highly is questionable, I refer you to point four. I’ve realised lately that the emphasis we Christians put on marriage is ridiculous. It’s like single people are some weird species who don’t fit anywhere and who need to be married off asap. Again, I’ll mention Jesus – not married in his 30s. Chill out, married people, I am happy for you, and I am also just happy. In the words of the ever-wise Kelly Clarkson: “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone…”
4. My finances will be looking good
That dream house? At 25, I’d have it. Along with all those other little luxuries I would have liked but could never afford in my youth. Although obviously that all came with the marriage – when my husband sorted out my life for me and we lived happily ever after. Yeah, cause that happens.
However, I do occasionally buy lunch from M&S now, so things aren’t all doom and gloom. Take that, poor, teenage Sarah.
And of course, financial stability is all relative. Compared to much of the world, I am extremely rich. I always have been. I have everything I need, and as I reassess my expectations of life I grow ever more aware of the many things I have absolutely no need for. That’s growing up – see, there is hope!
5. I won’t care what people think about me
The thing is, even though some people might think my life is a bit of a mess, I can totally tell you all about it because at 25 I’m past caring about what you think of me.
Except, I’m not. I genuinely looked forward to my mid-20s as a time when I wouldn’t be self-conscious anymore, and it hasn’t happened – yet. But I am increasingly gifted at laughing at myself, and have accepted that my embarrassments bring others joy. I am also trying, although very often failing, to care more about what God thinks about me than what people do. And that’s something.
It turns out that 25, the age of proper adulthood, is not all it’s cracked up to be. We’ve been lied to, but we’re going to be ok. So, even when you’re thrust into panic by well-meaning people asking you why you’re still single, or what you’re doing with your life, or when you’re going to get that house deposit, know you’re not a failure. You’re young, and there really is more to life.
I’m still clinging to the hope that one day soon I will feel grown up, and maybe someone will even call me serene. But until then, instead of wasting my life away while growing more decrepit (I mean, hey ‒ at least I’m not 30), I’ll enjoy the adventure. And adventures are always more exciting when you have absolutely no idea where you’re going.