On 25 Years of Life

by on August 10, 2010 | posted in Uncategorized

So, I’m now 25. I think such a well-rounded number is cause for reflection, self-inference, and forward thinking – but also, this birthday is the first time I’ve ever had a blog to rant on.

25 is a unique number. Mostly because it’s sexy, and not necessarily because it’s significant. We don’t get a driver’s license, or the ability to smoke cigarettes, and often, the year does not create many lifestyle shifts for those partaking in it.  We are likely still going to the bars, still partaking in occasional debauchery, and most often, have not yet settled down. We still can’t afford a BMW and we can’t afford a condo. We still cuss and somehow, we still have a friend or two in college.

We are 25.

But we are still remarkable, because 25 is a perfect fourth. After all, we judge life by a outward lounging 100-year-old mark, one many of us (and likely not me), will ever hit. 25 is the number internet marketing lists often thrive on because of its sexiness. But like a Perfect-10 model, few things about the number 25 are anything more than good-looking. It’s an abstract, and likely, a lounging, brooding period for most partaking in it.

25 is where many people’s careers start to hum. If they’re late-blooming, they’ve just begun. Most are still relegated to relatively opening-level positions. Others are still searching, bouncing between places with unsatisfactory degrees or meandering ideologies. For these people, 25 can only be the start of an oppressively bad thing – looming disappointment.

25 can mark the beginning of the depressionary years. For those who will not fulfill their life goals or achieve self actualization for a plethora of reasons, it’s a year that starts to bring to light the oncoming, looming disappointment. Suddenly, you feel excessively old in college. Suddenly, you start seeing some of your friends succeeding excessively, and your relative position is nothing but well shaded by their tall accomplishment. Suddenly, school loans start becoming an overwhelming reality, and the BMW and the Mercedes and the Mojito Island trips become less of a certainty and more of a deep, blurry optical illusion.

For that reason, for most, 25 is not a mark of accomplishment. For a lot of us, we have likely not yet accomplished anything of significance. But what it does mark, more depressingly, is the realization that some of us will likely accomplish hardly anything at all. Those people who lived relatively exciting lives through high school and still enjoyed their junior college jaunts in their hometown will begin to become bored, poor, and stuck in a phase of loathing their specific place of residence.

This, for me, is the most depressing part of 25 – seeing those that will do nothing with the years that come after it. For the most part, we were all gifted the first 25 – allowed the luxury and freedom school presented, and also, given the weight of our parents to lean on. Somewhere around 25, the parents’ bank account starts to get cut off. And you realize that you have no other options than to stay in a shit town for another 5 years until you pay off your car payment working at Chili’s.

This is 25’s ugly interior. Well rounded, yes, but otherwise, a reductionary digit that really only brings forth the reality that your high school friends will permanently become losers.

The way we look at life is strange. Due to our social structure and developmental process, 25 in many ways is seen as a beginning, the start of true provision to society. But, when our clock stops and we are put to rest, the first 25 years of our lives were still 25 years long – and so were every other 25 year period. So, then, we should take this time moreorless with the knowledge that yes, we did have an obligation.  We had an obligation to do good and make people smile and provide, even if the likely scale of those provisions won’t match our later years — that is, if we do something positive with our careers.

I think I did okay in that respect. I made people smile. I generally did right and was a positive member of society. I tended to break tons of shit as a kid (my first word was “uh-oh”), but I hope my overall contributions to my parents happiness in that time were positive. I am not sure this is the case with others. Bullies grow up, but they were mostly the terrors of society in their first 16-18 years of life. And more probably, their maturity brought not positive communal contribution, but rather, selfish, inward brooding and unfulfilling gas station work. This, arguably, can be funneled against the parents’ second 25-year strata – 25 to 50 – but nonetheless, the end carrier of plight and hurt is on the young one.

Words bruise, communities hurt, windows break. Kids are little pricks, and often times, they are a ruining wash on society. They messed up the first 25, and likely, they will mess up the next.

Life is predictable in this way – although our first 25 years of impact are relatively even with all others due to the inability to scale (our impacts can only be felt in one on one conversations, not carried to businesses and the internet and elsewhere) –  our actions within it are a near-perfect indicator of the scale of our impact in the next. Those who were pricks in their first 25 are likely to remain pricks in the next 25. Due to their relative insipidness, lack of motivation and frequent stupidity, their ability to scale negative impact is near zero.

However, for those showing positive contributions in the first 25, those who make you laugh, smile, and cheer, there is incredible probability they will scale that positivity. This is why society has always grown and not stepped back. For every torrential drug dealer that blackens a neighborhood, somewhere, a dedicated nerd is developing a few lines of code that will make finding the next forty streets in our cars easier than tying our shoes. This is the drug dealer’s biggest downfall and our biggest strength – meth can’t be well distributed on the internet. GPS can. Insults can’t be distributed well on the internet. Tips for healthy living can.

Smiles scale – frowns don’t.

The next 25 years come with a lot of pressure. This is the moment. The first 25 came with excuses for having not created a monumental impact or seen the world or fallen deeply in love – but these don’t. Here, we have to do it. These next 25 are the nitty gritty.

I don’t want to say I’m nervous, but I’m not overly confident, either.

I don’t want to come off as an egotistical prick in this post, as it may appear in disparaging many people who still live in their hometown or have yet to stop working at Applebees. But then again, I do. Because this is the start of their depressionary years, and the window is closing. Because their smiles are my smiles. And I want a wealthier world, one where I don’t have to spend $200 to fly to see my best friends down south or spend $30 a week on gas or have a call dropped with a loved one. I don’t want to have to see depressing status upon depressing status on Facebook. I want to see “YES, I LOVE MY LIFE” updates. Because that means, in all certainty, that someone else felt that love too.

25 is just a number, albeit a sexy one. But it’s little more than that. If anything, it makes me hope not to live longer, not to cringe over wishing I was younger, not to savor my “prime”, but rather, to be excited for the positive, bigger contributions I will begin making to the world in the next 25 – and not much else.

Hopefully, when I turn 50, we’ll have more to talk about – and not just how sexy the number is.

Image by Greg Eason via It’s Nice That.

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