Quarterlife Crisis

On December 3 (today) I turn 25. Now normally I steer very clear of these sorts of diary-esque, stereotypically “blog” type entries. I find the whole “publicizing the personal” thing rather annoying, actually. But since it’s my birthday, I’m going to indulge.

So, what are my thoughts on this—my 25th birthday? Well, honestly I’m thinking that I feel old… very old. And not in the “I can’t believe I’m halfway through my twenties” old. I can and do believe that I am actually 25. It’s just that I feel much older than that—like I should be retired now or something. With the rush of the rat race and the grueling pace of my life right now, I suppose the retiree’s leisurely existence sounds like a great alternative.

But this thinking is merely (I hope) a reflection of the mid-twentysomething malaise that most people my age feel: the sentiments of dissatisfaction with jobs, uncertainties about “the future,” apprehensions about whether or not our life trajectories are fitting into our plans (or our family’s hopes, or God’s will, etc).

Or perhaps it is more broadly human than that: the psychological distress that comes with feeling oneself pushing through time unnoticed by most or inconsequential to the overall system. You might call it the Solomon syndrome (the old Solomon from Ecclesiastes, that is), and while it’s not really that productive, it is real.

Aging is a strange thing. It’s something we often think of in terms of Alzheimer’s, Florida, and elderly people in nursing homes and adult diapers. But we are all aging, and we will all one day become the oldest people around.

This is something dealt with beautifully in the new film The Savages, which I recently reviewed for Christianity Today (read it here). In that film—ostensibly about a pair of siblings dealing with a parent with dementia—decay and disintegration are the ubiquitous themes: in the walls, in the plants, in the pets, in our bodies… It’s inescapable, a part of life.

Likewise, growing older and turning 25 is inescapable, a part of life. In reality, “25” is just a word to represent the precise time span that I’ve walked the earth thus far. As an “age” or part of who I am, “25” is much more abstract and arbitrary. Aging and growing are natural processes and universal—but perhaps most importantly, they are things that happen in spite of ourselves. I may not like this feeling of growing older, but what can I do? It’s a reality we have to deal with and make the most of. Perhaps we should even celebrate it. Oh, wait, we already do!

Seriously, though: birthdays are a mixed blessing. Mixed because after age 21 or so, growing older is kind of scary; and a blessing because every year lived is another beautiful gift from God—and a chance to give Him praise and feel His glory.