I was the first of my friend group to turn twenty-five and now they’re finally catching up, and it’s being accompanied by a huge heaping of existential angst. We entered the pandemic at twenty-three, still in our early twenties, and now we’re suddenly in our mid-twenties and heading to thirty. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s an adjustment for many, particularly since the media tries to convince us that thirty is the end of something, rather than the start of a new chapter.
In the midst of consoling them that twenty-five really isn’t that bad, I started considering everything I thought I would know by twenty-five, the most of which I really don’t. Twenty-five used to seem like this grown-up age, when I was thirteen, when I was eighteen, when I was twenty-one. I looked at twenty-five-year-olds as if they were adults with all of the answers, and now I’m suddenly one myself.
So here’s everything that little Fleurine expected big Fleurine to know, and how I’ve disappointed her terribly.
One of my biggest shames is how terrible I am with money. I was raised to believe that responsible people are good with money, and so by default, I am irresponsible. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I buy things to make myself feel better in a desperate bid for serotonin. I love treating my friends and hate asking people to pay me back. I like to enjoy nice things and travel to visit friends and family.
But it is always laced with this guilt, as I can’t enjoy spending money. I know I should be budgeting but the mere thought feels so confrontational.
I know I should be saving money for the future, but life feels so short. My father spent his life saving for the future, putting away money for me and my sisters and to travel after retiring. Then he passed away before he could spend any of it. That has tainted the thought of saving for me, as it feels futile when anything could happen before then. I want to live my life, and yet I also know that the future is a possibility I should plan for.
So I’m twenty-five and I don’t know how to budget and save properly.
In recent years, and particularly fuelled by the pandemic, I’ve realised that I’m more of an introvert. I really enjoy time to myself, to read, write and engage in my hobbies. My perfect Sunday consists of going for a run or walk, writing for a few hours and enjoying a good book. I get overwhelmed more easily by social events, and crowded places make me feel uncomfortable.
I’m working on setting my boundaries and expressing them to my friends, but I still struggle with the Fear Of Missing Out. I still find it hard to not be invited to things, even if I force myself to recognise that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway. I still feel like I’m not living my life to the fullest.
I scroll through Instagram and see all these people doing incredible things. They’re partying on beaches or starting their own business and everything in-between. I still feel like I’m falling short. I feel like I’m wasting my time and I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.
By twenty-five, I thought I’d be a published author, I thought that my life would consist of writing books. But it doesn’t. And I’ve had so many experiences I wouldn’t swap for anything, but it’s hard not to look around me and feel like I’m not living to my potential. I feel FOMO for the life I could have had and I just don’t know how to get there.
I learned a lot of things in school, like the Pythagoras theorem, how cell division works, the themes of Great Gatsby and more. I didn’t learn how taxes work, and even though I’ve done them for a few years now, I’m still not really sure. Especially now that I have side incomes from different countries, it all seems so complicated.
Does everyone live in a constant fear that they’ll do their taxes wrong and become an accidental criminal? I feel like a complete fraud. Maybe adults don’t learn how to do taxes, they just start earning enough to pay someone else to do it.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an author. I want to take the story ideas from my mind and put them on paper. It’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted. It seemed so simple, just become an author. Well, it’s been years of trying and I guess it really isn’t so simple after all.
It also seemed like the only decision I’d have to make. But now I’m getting older and realising there’s a lot more to life than your dream. There’s the job you do in the meantime, something you want to enjoy and be good at, something you can fall back on because dreams don’t always happen.
There’s the life you lead, the kind of trips you take and the place you choose to call home. There’s the concept of marriage and whether you want it to be more than just a concept. There’s how you spend your days, your weekends, your nights. I thought I’d know how I want to live my life, what would make me smile on my deathbed and say I did it right. But I honestly don’t know what I want in life except to write.
It used to seem so obvious. You either adamantly don’t want kids, or you do. I thought that since I didn’t actively not want children that it must mean I want them. But as I entered my twenties and witnessed some people starting families and others knowing they wouldn’t, I finally realised that it’s a choice. It’s a choice to want children or not to, it isn’t a category you just slip into. Because if you’re going to bring a child into this world, you need to actively want to do that. You need to be willing to love them no matter what and prioritise them over anything else.
Right now, I feel too selfish to want children. If a child came in the way of my writing, I would resent them for it. I feel ashamed to admit that but it’s the truth. I know that when you have kids you love them regardless, and that love overcomes everything else, but I just want to be sure before I make that decision. I like other people’s children and I’m not ruling it out just yet. I want to be sure, and I’m not yet. People I know are having their first or second child, and I’m still not sure whether that’s even the direction I’m heading towards. I guess only time will tell.
When I was a teenager struggling heavily with my eating disorder and other mental health struggles, I truly thought that I would have my shit together by twenty-five. It seemed like such a grown-up age, and I thought by then I would know how to love myself, or even just like myself a little more.
I thought that I’d be confident and accept nothing less than my worth. But I am twenty-five and I still cry in fitting rooms. I still chase after the person who wants nothing to do with me. I still doubt myself constantly.
I thought that adults were certain of themselves and knew what they stand for, maybe I’m not an adult yet, or maybe they never really do. Perhaps we all just get better at faking it.
I am a sucker for a good poached egg. Whenever I go out for brunch - far too often, as you can tell from the first point on this list- I can’t help but order poached eggs. And maybe its desirability stems from the fact that I can’t make one myself. I’ve tried, I’ve really tried. I’ve done the hack versions, like wrapping the egg in cling film. I even bought an egg poacher tool that only proceeded to make a mess of my microwave.
I am twenty-five, and I do not know how to make a poached egg. So if you have any tips, please enlighten me, as I’d love to fix at least this one point by the age of twenty-six.
Like I said, twenty-five really isn’t that old, and I’m aware of that. But it once felt that way, and it seemed like an age that would be ripe with knowledge. But as I get older, I begin to realise that no one has the answers. Our parents were just trying their best with what they had as well. Maybe it isn’t even about faking it, but rather recognising what is worth knowing, and what to accept as a mysterious fact of life, like taxes. So as I tick off the days until twenty-six, all I can do is take it one step at a time, and focus on what I need to know today or tomorrow, everything else can wait. Until then, I simply make the common mistakes of your twenties.
What did you think you would know by this age?
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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