In my head I am still young. Like, a “young person” which is why it’s okay that I’m still figuring out my career path and that I’m just starting a family. Because I’m still so young, right? I am barely out of college. That’s right, right? (If barely means I graduated almost seven years ago.)
The universe seems intent on informing me that twenty-eight is not really as young as I – apparently – like to think. Like when I got the invitation for my ten-year high school reunion. Or got a card from a college roommate and realized I hadn’t seen him in over five years. When Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project said she cries when she realizes a celebrity is younger than her. And when I was watching Top Chef and one of the contestants was an acclaimed chef at twenty-eight and was not the youngest contestant by far.
I have to sometimes remind myself of the things I have accomplished. I have traveled to five of the seven continents and yet I’m taunted by all the places lurking on my bucket list. I got married to the person I’m planning to be with for the rest of my life. (In fairness, if I thought otherwise I wouldn’t have married him.) I discovered the joys and difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth and now motherhood. I have a lovely diploma informing the world that I attended college for four years. I’ve been heartbroken and hospitalized. I’ve worked for a variety of employers – some of them even had benefits. And I have been in possession of a driver’s license from three different states.
In the grand scheme of things, this may be more than many people accomplish in a lifetime. And it also may be a pitiful comparison to that of a peer’s list of accomplishments. Which basically tells me nothing.
So what is it I thought I’d need to have by twenty-eight that I haven’t obtained?
- A Master’s degree. Maybe even a PhD. I really expected to continue my education further than a Bachelor’s. And I still intend to do so, but I’m getting kind of old, right? Won’t most of my classmates be young whippersnappers fresh out of undergrad? And I’ll be that student with the husband and kid at home.
- A career. My current occupation is as stay at home mom and that was nowhere in my dreams. I never anticipated spending whole days in my pajamas making meal plans and changing diapers. And yet, that’s where I am. Not working for a publishing house or running a study abroad program or writing best-sellers. Nope. I’m a professional – okay, let’s be honest still pretty amateur – homemaker.
- A clear path. When I graduated from high school I had a 5, 10, and 15 year plan. I derailed about a semester into college. Those plans, as it turns out, fell short in real world execution and currently I feel accomplished if I know what we’re eating for dinner tomorrow night. So, a year from now? Ten years from now? No idea.
- Purchased real furniture. This one is almost embarrassing, but it’s true. The only large purchase my husband and I have made for our household is a mattress and box spring. (And I am seriously in love with our bed.) Everything else in our apartment is a hand-me-down. From the kitchen table and chairs to the couches to the spare bed and dressers.
- Traveled the world. Or, at least, more of the world. I have yet to visit Australia or Thailand or Peru or Egypt or Honduras or Israel or Vietnam. And that is a very small sampling of my list.
- Learned a foreign language fluently. For this I have no excuse. I’ve lived abroad and live with a man who is trilingual. What can I say? Other things just got in the way – like Facebook and YouTube and books written in English.
- Lived in New York City. Truly. I thought it would be my future home. In retrospect I’m not sure it ever would have worked out. It doesn’t really fit me. It’s a remarkable city – just not my city. I don’t like crowds or traffic or cold weather. And yet, I definitely saw living there as some definitive move into adulthood. Or liberation. Or freedom. Or something.
I am twenty-eight. I have no notoriety to my name. I’m not at the top of any career field. I don’t have any letters after my name. I don’t live in an exciting destination city.
But then, I’m only twenty-eight. And I’m going to stick to that old saying that age is just a number. It is, after all. It doesn’t have to be a milestone. It can just be a number like any other.