Wishing for Retrospect

I lie about my age pretty frequently. 

Not on any important documents, but casually. Sometimes in response to a direct ask (I used to say I was 27, now I’ll probably respond “29”), but most often I just don’t correct people if they assume I am older than I am. 

Somewhere along the line, I stopped wanting to stay rooted in childhood and began wishing for the retrospect of age. 

I long to be able to look back on my current insecurities and uncertainty and see the path out of them. This moment in time just seems too rooted in a pervasive feeling of being “too young.”

I’m too young to have bought a house. I’m too young to be married. I’m too young to be settled down. The whispers of doubt are mostly internal, but I hear the thoughts echoed regularly by the people around me. Their eyes widen slightly when I mention the house. Their gaze flickers down to my left ring finger, then back to my face.

My childhood vision of life in my twenties involved travel, backpacking, exploration. And maybe, if I had the financial resources and time, if I wasn’t in a long-term committed relationship, if I didn’t have the responsibility of three pets to care for, I would love to be jet-setting around the world.

But I don’t really want to travel the world without [REDACTED], and I love our little zoo, so instead I just wish I could be done with my “awkward 20s.”

I’m thinking about all of this because this week I turned 27.

Since graduating college, I have felt the question of “what are you going to do with your life” hanging heavily around my neck, on my shoulders, dragging at my feet. Every decision feels momentous. It is part of what made moving, and leaving the job I loved, feel so awful – what if that was what I wanted for the rest of my life? Or what I was “supposed to do.”

My 26th year was one of enormous change. I’m finding myself wary of long-term goal setting, and I am starting to realize that one year is a long time that can go by very fast.

I listen to friends with a few more years of life under their belt with a mixture of admiration and jealousy. I want the distance from our move. I want a few more job transitions under my belt to take away the sting of loss. I want to grow out of these growing pains!

In honor of turning 27, I am making a list of things I am hoping for at this moment in time for the coming year. It’s a bit of a grounding exercise, I guess. Perhaps next year I will re-read this list and feel that all of these things weren’t all that important. In that case, I hope I can at least celebrate my newfound retrospect. 

27 Hopes

  1. Read 10 books (the “reach” goal is 15)
  2. Smile more
  3. Care less about what other people think
  4. Keep singing
  5. Get back on stage
  6. Finish my sashiko quilt
  7. Plant a garden
  8. Find time for reflection
  9. Art more (painting, knitting, drawing,crochet, etc.)
  10. Go on long hikes and walks
  11. Visit friends
  12. Be on time to things
  13. Keep writing
  14. Snuggle all the cats
  15. Explore new skills – maybe take a dance class
  16.  Practice pouring love into everything like my mom always tells me to do
  17. Stay hydrated
  18. Be silly. Just go for it.
  19. Take trips back home
  20. Take a trip that is far from home
  21. Stay frugal
  22. Practice hygge
  23. Keep in touch with friends and loved ones
  24. Use it or lose it (art supplies, clothes, whatever.)
  25. Collaborate on some art with friends
  26. Share meals with friends
  27. Stay present

This list was much more challenging than I anticipated. I got stuck after 12, and then got stuck again at 21. I’m sure there are more things to add to the list, but this is good enough for now.

At first, I started a list of “certainties” – trying to piece together 27 things about myself. That list felt wrong, self-centered, too vulnerable to put out into the world. 

Then I tried looking up “Questions to Ask Yourself” and my search spat back page after page of “if you could do anything…” and “what would your younger self think…” I couldn’t even begin to answer those questions without my eyes filling with tears. 

After being so averse to the move, to leaving my old job, leaving behind friends, I know it will take time to settle in to this new home, new job, and new friends. I want the transition period to be over. For that I need to be older. I need time to pass.

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