I was out for a birthday dinner with my husband and his parents this past weekend, when my father-in-law asked me a question many of us hear on our birthdays: “So, do you feel any older?”
The funny thing is, for the first time in my 20-something years on this Earth, I kind of do. Not older in the way we tend to define it, per se. I’m not worried about grey hair or arthritis… yet. That said, I do appreciate the fountain of youth and understand it does not emit a bottomless pit of YOLO moments. I have accepted that with age comes greater responsibility – more bills to pay, more people (and pets) to care for, and more terrifying mistakes to be made.
But I also think there is a certain level of clarity gained with age. I’m not saying I’m full of wisdom or anything like that, but I have learned some important lessons in this life, and as a result, I think I’ve become a lot more focused.
I’m more focused on what is important to me, and less distracted by what society tries to tell me I should be fixated on.
To me, this means creating the only safety net I know I can trust – the one I build for myself. I think you learn many valuable life lessons in a condensed period of time when you make the decision to work for yourself. Being self-employed has taught me more about money, about “work-life balance,” about self-worth, about time management and freedom, about failure and my personal definition of success than any other experience I’ve faced so far. And I’ve only been doing this for three months.
It also means choosing to pursue a life of minimalism over a life of abundance. Too often we play the role of the consumer-fooled-by-marketer, allowing ourselves to be brainwashed into thinking we need a bigger house, more furniture and belongings to fill that house, and a nicer car to park in the driveway of that house. But once we’re able to look past the North American dream, we start to grasp all of the incredible ways less really is more.
I’m more focused on who I am now versus who I used to be.
Over time, we grow and change as individuals, and sometimes it can be challenging to feel as though we are somewhat alone in these transformations. I think this is especially true as I approach my late twenties. It’s an age that brings such diversity in terms of life circumstances – my friends are all over the place, both in regards to where they are living and the situations they are facing. This means I have to work harder than ever to maintain these relationships. Friendships are much easier to support when they share the same environments. But if you really want something to last long term, you have to make the effort.
Of course, I am who I am based on both the experiences I have faced and the people I choose to surround myself with. And to me, this means choosing those who both support and challenge me, it means choosing those who love and accept me rather than judge me, and it means choosing those who share my desire for a life of positivity – those who are more interested in moving forward than looking backward.
I am more focused on building a life of happiness.
I have a clearer idea of what makes me truly happy, and what is required of me in order to achieve this. It means letting go of self-destructive actions and emotions. It means understanding the incredible influence of positive self-talk. It means pushing myself to learn and try something new every day.
There are many obstacles we cannot avoid in life, but it is how we choose to navigate through these obstacles that makes us who we are. Our lives are formed not only by the paths we choose to follow, but also the ones we don’t. We may not be in control of the circumstances, but it is up to us to shape the person who faces them.
I am more focused on gratitude.
I am incredibly appreciative of where I am, the people I am with and everyone and everything that has had a hand in getting me here. I feel very lucky to live the life I am now living at 27, and look forward to what the year ahead will bring.