At 25 years old, I have been to 15 countries in 2 continents. I wish I could list all the cities I’ve been to but I don’t think I even know how many cities I’ve traveled to. My memory has started to fade, which is sad considering I’m still young (although I feel old). All my travels have started to blur together into one big trip, which is perfect. All my travels have made me who I am.
25 is a weird age for me. When I look back, it feels like I’ve accomplished a lot. It feels like I’ve lived a life. Yet here I am, thousands of feet in the air, comparing myself to those who have done more then me.
As I hit my quarter life crisis, I’m nowhere in life where I thought I would be. There aren’t many people that are, I suppose, but I’m really struggling with the knowledge that life hasn’t gone to plan. See, I’m a planner and I like having my master plan. I like my ducks all lined in a row and I’ve always planned my life around that knowledge.
When I was playing Polly Pockets in my doll house, I thought 25 would be the year. It would be the year that I lived in a super cool house in a super cool city with my super cool job. I would be getting married and having babies and just overall living the dream.
Well, I’m living a dream, it just isn’t the dream that I thought I’d be living.
I can hear you saying “Well Alea, you always say you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to, so go get your dream! You’re young! You have all the time in the world! Take the advice you always write about!” Normally, you’d be right. I should take my own advice.
But as I fly towards another city I haven’t explored yet (ie: Denver) I’m struggling to find my dream. I’m struggling to find what I want to be, who I want to become, because nothing I’ve dreamed about having at this age has happened yet.
At the same time, little Alea never expected to travel so much. She didn’t think she’d live in London and fall in love. She never thought she’d be part of two magical weddings. She never thought that she’d be working with so many international innovators. She just…never thought, because those are thoughts that wouldn’t cross your mind at twelve years old. Honestly, all I can remember thinking about at twelve years old was Taylor Swift, the Jonas Brothers and how much I absolutely detested middle school. All I hoped for was that life would get better.
And it did. It continuously does.
I’ve been struggling, though. Struggling to find my purpose, to find my new city, to find a place that feels exciting and fresh and like a blank page. I love being back in Connecticut, but it doesn’t feel like home. I’m afraid that when I return to London in May, that won’t feel like home. I’ll be a wandering nomad, not sure where the next place will be.
I’m also so afraid of finding home. Wonder if I find some place that’s far? Wonder if I find a place that’s too close? Wonder if I keep moving, living out of suitcases and cardboard boxes until the end of time? Wonder wonder wonder.
I’ve been struggling because everyone is growing up. Maggie and Sean don’t need me like they used to (cue the silent tears) and how my both sets of parents are going on their next great adventure. I’m struggling because my grandparents are my best friends but I can see the tiredness, the age, etched into their face. I see my friends moving forward with their careers and buying houses and moving states and getting married. Sometimes I feel like I’m a puzzle piece that no longer fit. It scares me. It makes me emotional. It makes me nervous. Sad. Frustrated.
Because I feel so stagnant at 25. I feel so confused with who I want to be, where I want to be and what I want to do.
The day after my birthday I was splitting a cupcake with the security guard in my office building. He’s a doll. He always says hello, always has a smile and knows everyone’s name. I feel like he is a character of a children’s novel that I’ve read countless times. He has become an advice giver, even when I don’t always ask.
But I did ask. I asked what advice would he give himself when he was 25 and he thought about it. “I was married by 25 with two babies,” he explained “so I was in a very different part of life then where you are.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, but you have to have advice for a struggling old lady like myself.”
He laughed before getting solemn. “If I could give any advice, it would be to not be afraid. Don’t be scared. Don’t worry. Tell your parents when you’re mad, when you’re happy, when you’re disappointed. Tell your friends you love them. Don’t worry about taking a night to yourself, spending the evening in bed. Don’t worry about telling someone you think they’re handsome or that you’re interested. Don’t worry about complimenting someone or telling someone to back off. Just don’t worry about all the little things, because when you’re old like me you realize all the little things weren’t that important. You won’t regret saying you loved someone, saying you missed someone, saying you were mad at someone. You’ll regret not saying what you think, what you feel, what you want. So just don’t worry.”
That really resonated with me.
People tell me that all the time. My therapist, my mother, my father, Jen, Bob, many of my friends. But for some reason, this stranger spoke to my soul. He said the words I needed to hear.
Because I do worry. I struggle. I’m so terrified of making mistakes right now that will lead me down the wrong road, that I haven’t been taking chances. I haven’t been taking risks. I can’t remember the last time I had a hit of adrenaline or the last time I was worried about coming off as an idiot because I’ve been so scared of being wrong, of being left behind, of being stagnant, of not finding home, of not living the dream life that I had once hoped for that I just…stopped. I preach that I’m in love with being alive, but I feel like I barely do anything that gives me rush of life.
So I’m thinking that’s what I’m going to focus on. That rush of life I get when an airplane lands at the terminal. The rush of anticipation when I lean in for a first kiss. The rush of tenderness I have when I eat breakfast with my sister, with my grandfather, with my best friends. That rush of something that I feel when I’m doing exactly what I want, when I want it.
I’m tired of being scared and worried and stagnant. So I’m going to make a promise to myself, and to you, that I’m going to try and do more that scares me. I’m going to try.
Because at the end of the day, all we can do is try to live a life that we love. We try to live a life that makes us proud, that makes us happy. We just have to keep trying and have to stop thinking that there’s a right way to live, a right way to be. Because there’s no right way.
We just have to make our beds, drink some coffee, take a deep breath and try to make the next day a little bit better. We just have to try.
Listening To: Someone snoring on the left side of me & an old ‘My Favorite Murder’ podcast episode.
Flying To: Denver, Colorado