The Age of Achievements

9 September 2018

What are we going to do with all this future? – Gucci

On 24th September 2018 I turned 26, what should have been a typical birthday; celebrating another year, eating cake and cherry picking cards to sit on the fireplace became a quarter-life crisis. I’d like to state for the record that, like so many things in life, I didn’t see this feeling coming.

I was completely content with turning 26, it wasn’t until I woke up on my birthday morning with a lump in my throat, that I realised this birthday had meant something to me.

Oh, I know, even writing this now – I know how pathetic I sound. I can hear the voices of people I know saying ‘Nicole, don’t be ridiculous, 26 is SO YOUNG’. And I agree…26 is SO YOUNG.

So, what’s the problem then? The problem for me, was that sitting on my childhood bed, post-shower, swaddled in my dressing gown, I thought ‘So what the fuck now?’ And for once in my life, I didn’t have an answer.

Let me just explain here, I’ve always had a plan. I’m a list writing, forward thinking, OCD (to a fault) planner. From the age of 15, the plan was I wanted to work in PR, and I wanted to be really good at it. At 21, I wanted to become a yoga teacher and unfold a piece of me I’d kept in a box for so many years. At 24, I just wanted to be happy on my own without relying on another person, and at 25 I wanted to buy my own home.

So waking up on 24th September to the realisation that I was now 26 with no next step, made something in me shift. I felt totally ridiculous, I’ve never heard of someone having a meltdown at 26 – 30, yes, but 26? No. All of my friends seemed to navigate this birthday the same as any other. Yet, there I was, too choked to answer the phone to the many ‘Happy Birthday’ calls.

It seems to be that from the age of 13 when we begin secondary school, many of us only plan our lives up until the age of 25. Being 30 seems a lifetime away, so we sculpt and build our lives with a deadline of 25.

We mentally detail each big life event that we are determined to make happen by this age and continue along our path, collecting these life events as achievements, like giant gold coins floating in the sky on a game of Mario Kart.

I remember being 18 and someone older than me saying ‘forget the plan, life doesn’t always go how you’ve planned it to be’ and me thinking ‘yeah whatever, mine will’. And actually, for the most part, I was right.

On my 26th birthday I realised that I have everything I’d wanted since I was 13. I’m happy, I’m in the process of buying my own place, I have a great job, friends, family. I’ve achieved so much at a relatively young age. But now? Well, now I have absolutely no clue what the next step is. No huge life goals that ‘need’ to happen by 27. And that scares me, because if I have nothing to show for my 26th year, then what?

There is something to be said for this generation, the majority of us work really hard. Many, if not all of us have made our hobbies into second jobs, which means that we have earned the title of ‘slashers’. People who work more than one job or have their fingers in 10 different pies. We rarely ever switch off and if we do, it’s usually due to burnout.

I feel like this is one of the many reasons why nowadays we find it so easy to measure our worth based on our achievements. Because that’s how we as a society rank each other.

But do you know when you, as an individual, really start looking at your own worth? All of those achievements, all of those imaginary deadlines?

When your birthday comes around!

Suddenly you’re another year older and you think OK so what have I done in this year that proves I’m OK with turning ‘xx’.

With that said, I’d like to remind you of some things:

  1. External material achievements do not equal self-worth
  2. Have a little faith

The trigger of my mini melt down actually has nothing to do with turning 26, but everything to do with how I was viewing my worth and fear of the unknown.

So, this article is a reminder.

A reminder that all we need to do is be in the moment. That life doesn’t end just because your plan does – In-fact, that’s where it truly begins, in the unknown, the unseen.

In my 26th year I will be practicing what I preach:

  • Be in the now
  • Trust the universe

Who knows what the future holds, but today, right now. I realise I’m the woman I’ve always wanted to be, it’s time to enjoy her.

Nicole ♡