Milestones, arbitrary and otherwise

I turn 28 in exactly one week.

If you know me personally, you know I love birthdays, not so much for the prospect of lavish attention (which, ick) but because they provide excellent opportunities to do fun things with lots of great people. Plus, panning elaborate outings is one of my superpowers.

But we often also see birthdays as a moment to stop and consider where we are in our lives. People get anxious about round numbers (30, 40, 50, etc.) for some odd reason, but regardless we tend to have expectations for where we are in our careers and personal lives based on our ages.

Of course these ideas are completely arbitrary and stubbornly linear. Traditionally, you get a job, get raises and promotions, own more company stock, blah blah blah. But it seems pretty clear that the economy which fostered that mindset is long dead, if in fact that culture was ever as prevalent as we’ve been led to believe. People change careers midstream, go back to school, retire early and do something entirely different. Privately, families split up and re-form and combine. There’s no real blueprint for where your life should be at any given time, although of course there are biological limitations on particular choices (if you’re 40, your Olympic days are very nearly behind you, sad to say).

I’m going to be 28. High school ended ten years ago this June.* I don’t necessarily feel like an accomplished person, although I’m not sure if I ever will, to be honest. I can say I’m happy with the choices I’ve made in my adulthood. I’ve learned a tremendous lot from the experiences I’ve had. I’ve written. I’ve worked. I’ve studied. I’ve traveled. I’ve met a lot of really fantastic people. And there’s been enough adventure to keep things exciting.

As February was sliding to a close, I was starting to feel a little anxious about some of the choices I’ve made recently. I even applied for a couple of more traditional office jobs thinking I might have to transition away from my alternative employment search. Which isn’t to say my decision to pursue it had become a regret or that nothing positive had come of it. Rather, I began to think maybe it just wasn’t working this time around.

But! As often happens, I found enough encouragement  to keep at it. I won’t go into specifics just now because nothing is finalized, but it looks like there are a couple of exciting opportunities coming my way.

So who knows. 28 might be more of a milestone than 30 could ever be.

*To which I say: Thank god. Really, the more distance we can put between us and adolescence, the better.

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