When I was 27, I was asked what I thought the perfect age was. My response: 27. Because at that age, you’re young enough to still have fun and make mistakes, but you’re also old enough to know better. My 27th year was also a good one. I was living in New York City, doing well at a marketing agency and I was newly in love with a boy I met earlier that year.
I just turned 29 ten days ago. And if asked the same question “What would be the perfect age?” I think my answer would still be 27, or maybe 28, but certainly not 29.
Your 20s are supposed to be the decade of chance, irresponsibility and, to say it again, fun. You can legally drink, you finally end your days of classes, you start a job and earn a salary, you escape the walls of your parents’ house and you have little responsibility holding you back. Everything looks as carefree as a Jason Mraz video.
But during this time of newly found freedom, it’s easy to forget that it is also the time when we make the decisions that will affect the rest of our lives. We pick our fields of study, which will determine our future careers. Our careers dictate our financial stability and also where we live. And on top of all that, we may meet someone and decide if we’ll be spending the rest of our lives with him/her.
Thinking back, I would never trust a 21, 23 or even 25-year-old me to make those decisions. I’m not sure if I could even decide on a hair color or a favorite pizza place, let alone the city where I’d be accepting my first job.
So I made mistakes. After college, I moved across the state with a guy rather than focusing on my career goals. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I wised up, realized he was the wrong guy for me and happily accepted my job in New York City.
As 20-somethings, we’re expected to make mistakes like too-late nights, unprotected sex, one-night stands, Rum Runners and wearing thongs and bra straps as accessories. Those little mishaps are regrettable and not always easy to forget thanks to your girlfriends’ digital cameras. But after taking a few aspirin (and/or Plan B), we move on, and of course, swear to never do “that” again.
But when it comes to our far-more important decisions, the hangover is much worse when we realize we made the wrong choice.
Career changes, relocations and break-ups are more difficult than deleting those embarrassing photos from Facebook. They require maturity, planning, courage and a countless amount of blood, sweat and tears.
If our 20s is the time for making mistakes, at what age are we able to fix them before it’s too late? One would hope it’s before we’re stuck in a dead-end job, supporting a family, and buried under a stack of bills and a mortgage.
I guess you could say that your 20s is the time that you’re figuring what you want, in both career and love. While we may mistakes along the way, we learn from them and move on. The key word is that we LEARN, because the biggest regret we could have at 30 is to still not know who we are and what we want. Your 20s are for discovering, and your 30s are for remembering your wilder days, laughing at your dumb self, and enjoying all of your wisdom, experience and success.
Turning 29 is scary. It means that in 355 days, I should know better.
When I’m 30, I’d like to think that while I’m older, I’m also wiser, and able to accept successes and failures as they come. Of course, I expect there will still be careless nights of margaritas and skinny dipping, but at least I’ll know to leave the digital camera at home.