The Beginning of My Twenty-Sixth Year

I’m not fishing for “Happy Birthdays,” I promise, but I just can’t seem to get over the fact that I’m a year older.  I’m on the wrong side of twenty-five.  The side that leads to thirty.  And I swear to God if one person leaves a comment saying how young I am and how I have my whole life ahead of me and how good things come to those who wait, blah blah blah, I’ll go ape-shit on their ass.

I know people out there GET IT.  I know I’m not the only person who feels like a complete and utter failure; like my life has gone a thousand miles in the wrong direction.  I totally know that.  I just don’t feel it most of the time.

You know what I mean?  I feel so all alone.  Yesterday I had a crappy day.  I woke up late so I didn’t have time to wash my hair.  Let’s just say when I don’t wash my hair I look like I dipped my head in a big tub of melted butter.  It was Monday and even though the schedule at the ortho office didn’t appear busy, I did not stop all day.  I was busy.  Crazy busy.  And I had wedding stuff to worry about on my lunch hour and when I got off of work.  And I was just tired and in a foul mood all day.  It sucked.  And I didn’t know who to call.  I wanted to call someone so badly and vent, but I didn’t know who to call.

Not knowing who to call wasn’t the worst thing though.  The worst thing was thinking about what I would say and realizing I couldn’t even really express HOW I was feeling or WHY I was feeling that way.  I’m a freaking “writer” and I can’t express myself!  And thinking about it made me realize that all of my complaints were bull shit and stupid and no one would want to hear about them.  And that made me think how I really needed a therapist.  Of course, that would just bring up the issue of not being able to express myself again.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with turning twenty-six, in fact, I’m sure it doesn’t because I’ve always been crazy like this, but I was thinking about being twenty-six yesterday as I walked out to my car and how I’ll never again WISH to be a year older.  Remember how when you were younger, you’d start saying you were 10 when you were only 9 and a half, because you wanted to be mature, adult, grown up?  You didn’t want to be seen as a kid anymore?  So you looked forward to each and every birthday.  You counted down the days and you made sure everyone knew how old you were.  It makes me incredibly sad that I won’t ever have that again.

Okay, maybe I will, when I’m like 99.  Cause it would be pretty freaking cool to tell people you were turning 100.

But anyways.  I’m twenty-six now.  Twenty-six.  I’m trying to wrap my head around that.  I’m trying to be happy about that.  I’m trying not to see it as just another year flying by without me making anything of myself.  Without anyone else seeing anything in me.

I don’t want responses, really.  I don’t want to be patted on the back and told that everything is going to be okay and that I’m awesome.  Because I know that.  I really do.  But, like I said before, knowing and feeling are two different things.  Two very different things.

15 thoughts on “The Beginning of My Twenty-Sixth Year

  1. Hey Rach, I know you don’t want any comments or pats on the back (and most definitely no happy birthdays), but I thought you might (maybe) like to know you’re not alone. Then again, I’m not up for a whoopin’ so I’m going out on a limb here.

    I’m not a shrink, but I do have a degree in psych, so when I say you’re entitled to rant and feel the way you do, I’m not just blowing smoke.

    Most people go through the same feelings of–where is my life going/I’m a big fat failure–That’s the sucky news. The good news is this is supposed to happen (psychologically we’re wired this way) because it helps us figure out what’s really important to us and spurs us on to achieve our goals (reproduce, be productive citizens in our community, adjust our feelings about afterlife, etc). Again, I’m not just saying this to make you feel better. Some people hit this later that others, but it’s normal.

    So allow yourself to feel this way and know that there is always someone (friend, family, weird blogger) who’s willing to listen when you feel ready to express (or just ramble) what’s going on in your soul. You are important to the universe.

    Feel better soon ’cause I miss reading your quirky posts.

  2. Somewhere in my closet is the mahogany journal in which I wrote (upside down from the bottom of the last page – you know so I could “forget” it was there) about being 24. And being nothing, according to me. I feel ya.

  3. JMD here, dear. Can I ask a question? Are you me? Did I somehow stumble across a time-machine, travel back 8 years, move to another country and change my name to Rachel? Coz if you’re me, 8 years ago, I’m here to tell me (you) that I’m approaching my saturn return and things are supposed to be weird and a bit off. I’ll have days that start out bad and just get worse, and it won’t be because anything’s happened in particular, but because I’m in my own head and I just look at things increasingly worsely (hey, you just invented a new word!) and when I wake up the next morning, I’ll wonder why I wasted so much mental energy on the worser things. Yup. You’re me, 8 years ago.

    Only, I (me, JMD, Jo) lost my Dad 8 years ago, and that’s when I really started to grow up. And a whole string of bad, awful things happened, and I learned with each experience. Now I’m 34. I’m still in soul-sucking customer service (always with a smile in my voice), but I now know what I want to be when I grow up. A writer. And, hopefully within the next few years – before the endometriosis gets me or my eggs dry up – a mother. It took me 3 and a bit decades to realise what I wanted to do with my life. So, if you’ve already worked that bit out – the whole want-to-be-a-writer-lady thing – then you’re actually a huge step in front of 8-years-ago-me.

    Hey, you either feel gooder or worser right now (yep, it’s growing on me). Either way, don’t go wasting valuable energy stressing the three-oh. I celebrated my three-oh and it was no biggy. So, since then, I’ve made it a goal to only celebrate every 11 years. I had a little party when I turned 33 (or, as my husband tells me – it was just two m’s sideways), and my next birthday will be 44 (let’s see what he comes up with to describe that one), then 55, 66 (and thinking I might have a Bill and Ted party when I turn Sixty-Nine dude!), and so on.

    It’s nice to have goals. Some big, some small. Doesn’t matter what size they are. Pick ’em and reach for ’em. You’re a legend.

    There are no such things as grown-ups. We’re all scared, lonely little kids looking for guidance. Our bodies just get wrinklier, that’s all…

    1. J-
      haha, no I don’t think I’m you. Maybe we were separated at birth. I’m convinced I don’t belong to my family.

      I don’t know that I’ve really figured anything out. Honestly, I try something for a little bit, realize I suck at it and move to something else. I’m constantly looking for the right career, the right life. Nothing fits. I don’t fit. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be anything, but I’m going to keep trying.

      It’s not really the number that bothers me. It’s the number combined with the fact that I’ve done nothing. That I’ve never really lived. I could be 35 and happy if I thought I lived a wonderful full life. As it is, I’m 26 and have none of the early twenties experiences everyone else has and now it’s too late. You can’t go back. I know I shouldn’t wish to go back, but I really do.

      1. I’ve never been overseas… yet. I don’t have the house of my dreams… yet. I dropped out of school at 16 after failing Yr 10 twice. Not because I was stupid. Got A’s for the subjects I was interested in, and flunked everything else. I studied music at TAFE for a few years, taught piano, worked part time in a lab, honestly thought I’d be a composer but when I started the course I fell into a deep depression and had to give it up. Gave up music altogether and tried photography. That didn’t work. Went back to wanting to be a composer. Realised I’d never cut it in the music industry and then the nagging of writing took over, so now I’m focusing on that. If it turns out that I’m not supposed to be a writer, my world will fall apart. All I’ve ever done for a job is customer service. The only job that made it feel like I was making a difference was as a ward clerk in an emergency department. I needed to feel like I was making a difference. I remember the pressure of feeling like I needed to have a ‘career’ and only having a ‘job’. I dreamed big and it blew up in my face. But the reason it blew up was nothing external. It was me.

        The secret to a happy life isn’t living your dreams, it’s accepting your lot in life and working out what to strive for and what is unrealistic. I’ll never be that composer. I’ll never be that photographer. I write, so at the moment I’m focusing on that. But if that doesn’t work out, I’ll have to learn to accept it, too.

        I’m not trying to trivialise the way you feel. It really isn’t a trivial thing. It’s very real and deeply rooted. But the fact is, you are a great writer. I’ve read your stuff. There are moments of sheer brilliance in there. We all have to learn how to sort the chaff from the wheat in our own writing, and sometimes it’s hard to do. I think if you allow yourself to believe in your potential as a writer, you will go far. And then I can say I wrote on your blog before you were famous. As my Grade 5 teacher wrote in my report “I want an autographed copy of your first book”.

      2. I can’t accept my lot in life- I just can’t! Don’t you ever feel like you should be doing something just Amazing? And doesn’t it just drive you crazy if you aren’t?

      3. It depends on your perception of ‘amazing’. I remember writing like a woman possessed during one of my 6 day shift breaks about 7 years ago. All I did for most of that time was write, smoke, drink, and sleep. I remember pacing around in my kitchen with a ciggy and a G&T, wearing my dressing gown and biting my finger-nails – mouthing the words and acting out the scenes. I lived it. When I started the next shift, my colleague asked how I’d spent my 6 days off. I said “I’ve been on a journey.” They said “Ooh, where to?” I answered “My living room.”

        The pressure in your mid-twenties is overwhelming. It’s like puberty + peer pressure times a bizillion. But it’s a rebirthing, leading you into your thirties and toward that elusive ‘adulthood’. Life doesn’t stop at thirty, and now that I understand that, I also understand it to be true of forty, fifty and so on. Life stops when it stops, but not because of age.

        What you’re doing at the moment, finding yourself as a writer, is one of the most important journeys you will embark on. Just because it doesn’t take you to Italy or save the world, end poverty or help you scale the Empire State Building. This is another step in your own self-discovery, and it is a vital step for you. In my future, I plan to travel to France. I plan to have a family. I plan to adopt a dog from a shelter and give it as good a life as my cats have (lucky dog!). My goal is to have the house in the country and afford to buy my husband the posh Saab he wants, even though I think it will make him look like a tosser. I’d love to make enough from my writing to be able to put something back in for others on my home planet. But, for now, I sit back and explore the hidden nooks and crannies in my psyche. All those things will come in time. The only one with the foot on the gas is you.

      4. My perception of amazing…. hmmm…. I guess I’ll know I’m doing something amazing when I don’t wake up in the morning wishing that I had a different life 🙂

      5. Sorry, what I meant to say is:

        Just because it doesn’t take you to Italy or save the world, end poverty or help you scale the Empire State Building, doesn’t make it any less important. Why isn’t there an edit button here?

  4. My grand take: always remember that EVERYONE’S stuff is all bullshit and stupid. The point is that many of us know our stuff is bullshit and stupid, and we don’t mind hearing your stuff (bullshit and stupid or otherwise) because our stuff isn’t any better; and the only way anything gets any better is when people chuck up their stuff onto the alter of “talking about it anyway” and get on with the only part of life worth living, the part where we all help each other wake up in the morning another day older and no closer to what we think we want than when we did it all the day before.

    Why lie? Every new dawn is just one more sunrise you will NEVER SEE AGAIN. Or, it’s one more sunrise finished between you and the time it takes to get to your goals. Personally, I suck at that second sentiment. I’m not an inherently optimistic person, and I don’t generally think inherently optimistic thoughts. But here’s the thing, better or worse, there has to be something tomorrow. So far it hasn’t been what I expected, or what I thought I “wanted” when it happened, but there was always something.

    I didn’t hit my crisis birthday until I was turning 30. That was the year my marriage of eleven years ended, I started trading custody of my daughter with someone who had been “my best friend” and now I couldn’t understand, and the year I lived alone for the first meaningful time in my life.

    Sound horrible? Still just bullshit and stupid. Absolutely IN NO WAY is that any worse or any better than your life as you’ve described it. As far as I can tell we’re all pretty much composed of insecurity, failure and doubt. Thankfully, we’re also composed of hope, desire and dreams.

    Getting older and not accomplishing what we want SHOULD make us crazy. Without that motivation we wouldn’t do anything at all.

    This is starting to sound almost preachy, so let me close with this thought: writing is the process of wrestling life onto the ground, stabbing it in the heart and etching it’s lifeblood onto paper for everyone to see. You’re very good at it, so the neurosis probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. This is a violent, frightening thing to do, and it leaves scars.

    I’m sorry if no one told you about this when you joined the club, but like most shadowy organizations, we try to hide the downsides from the really good prospective members until they’re in too deep to back out.

    In my experience, writers are particularly sensitive to the passing of time. We only get so many rounds in the ring, and every missed opportunity seems to hurt so much more than we expect.

    So, the downside, getting older sucks at 26 or 96, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; the upside, you really are a noticeably good writer.

    1. Somedays I try really hard to be an optimistic and happy person. Other days it’s just too much work.

      Thank you for your kind words. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been good at anything in life, so it’s nice to hear when someone thinks I am. I hope this writing club isn’t as shadowy forever as it’s been so far! haha

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