It wasn’t until I was 62 weeks into some random girl’s Instagram account that I realized I have a problem. The culprit for my deep scroll? Finding out the age of a has-probably-been-featured-on-the-Glossier-Instagram-account level lady who was (you guessed it) a dj/photographer/model. I had to make sure there was no way she was cooler AND younger than me. Because that just wouldn’t be fair. Right?
Hi, my name is Molly, and I’m obsessed with age.
I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. At times much to my parents’ dismay when as just a toddler I’d mix floral prints with plaid. My mother (on many accounts) told me she wished she’d put a sign around my neck that said “she dressed herself”. Little did my parents know, I was just a few decades ahead of Jenna Lyons’ creative vision for J. Crew (that kind of backfired….point aside).
But all throughout my life I never really paid attention to what I “should” be doing. Until recently.
The trap of comparison is one most of us fall into from time to time. It’s one I thought I did a pretty good job of avoiding. I can identify that someone else’s beauty does not take away from mine, same with their unique talents or perceived success. Perhaps it’s because I always told myself “you’ll get there”, “you’re so young”, “you’re still figuring it out”, “your abs could look like that one day”. Until one day I woke up and convinced myself “you’re not that young anymore! Tick tock.” Tasty bait.
I’m 26. In the grand scheme of the average life span, I am young.
But our world seems to have a certain (unhealthy?) obsession with young success. 30 under 30 lists. Whiz kids on the cover of business magazines who “dropped out of college to build the next big tech startup”. Taylor Swift (ps, where is she?). I have chugged the Kool Aid.
Is it because when I was younger I imagined 26 to be so different? It sounded so much older than I really feel? Am I comparing myself to every other 26 year-old I come across? It’s hard to set goals at 18 of what you should be doing at 26 when you truly have no perspective on the subject.
A blogger I follow who has a seemingly lovely life, husband, house, business and baby who I’d always assumed [insert cliche quote about being an ass] was in her mid-thirties, posted about her 27th birthday today – 27th. I’m four months out from 27 and have yet to keep a plant alive – I mean I killed a succulent the other day. Aren’t those supposed to be indestructible?
Here’s where my 26 year-old self isn’t going to give you some epiphanic answer to this internal youth-focused battle I’m fighting. I think it’s just a daily practice of making a conscious decision to wake up and just. stop. caring. Stop paying attention to that number we call age.
Don’t care about how young someone is. Don’t care about how old you are. Throw out your “by (x) age I want to achieve (x)” because I’m here to tell you that 9 times out 10 life will not abide by your neatly crafted calendar.
If making a plan keeps you on track and makes you motivated to work, than by all means, do what works for you. But please don’t beat yourself up if by age 23 you didn’t get the 5,000 Instagram followers you were hoping for or mastered crow pose. Give yourself a break. Keep working towards those goals and keep striving to achieve them, age aside.
Sure, timelines keep us moving. They keep us from being complacent for too long. But it’s time to start focusing more on how you achieve your goals, and less about how long [insert cliche quote about how long it took to build Rome] it takes to achieve them. The self-set goal of what you accomplish is what should matter. Not the length of time it took to get there. It could happen at 17, it could happen at 77.
Try and enjoy where you’re at. Accept, embrace and relish in the messiness and the unknown. Make it a part of your story. And know that doing things on your own timeline makes you more interesting anyways.
But what do I know? I’m just 26.
[Insert cliche quote about age just being a number blah blah blah]
Featured image via Amelia Kramer