I remember the eve before my 25th birthday party and I can still feel the emotions I felt at that point in my life thinking I should have “found myself” and had my life together as soon as the clock hit midnight. Reflecting back now I’m rolling my eyes thinking: “find myself?!”…“I’m still trying to find out where all my missing socks have gone!”
Ok back to my reflection. So…for my 25th birthday, I had a joint birthday party set up with my best friends who shared similar birthdays, a table reserved at one of the hottest clubs in NYC with an amazing view of the city, and a head turning dress hung up waiting to make its debut that evening. I was so hype! My excitement quickly faded away when the gentleman I was “talking to” at the time hit me with news that he would not be able to attend my birthday party that evening! At that moment, I realized that everything I should have/wanted to have accomplished at 25 was non existent. Forgetful of the fact that, at a young age, I obtained a Masters Degree at one of the top 10 schools for social work in the nation. I had traveled to a few countries, had amazing friends, AND my student loan payments hadn’t kicked in yet so I felt like Richie Rich!
At that moment when “Mr. Wonderful” broke that news to me, It hit me… “aren’t I supposed to have been married by now?!…if I was I wouldn’t be crying over this regular degular schmegular guy…and my partner would move mountains to celebrate this milestone age with me.” That was one of many thoughts that flowed through my head that night. I realized how unhappy I was. I did not land my dream job after graduation, my credit sucked, and my future partner was probably somewhere stuck in a “sunken place.” With all the emotions I felt and tears in my eyes, I decided to grab a pen and paper and began a list that was numbered 1-25. This list was easier than I thought to fill but I filled it with 25 accomplishments. This has been my routine every birthday since my 25th birthday…5 years ago. Depending on what age I turned I made a new list numbered from 1- the age I was turning that year. This was one of many tools that I had to put in place in my life to overcome this crisis.
Now older and, I like to think “wiser,” I wonder…who made it the standard that you had have your life together by your 20s. Perhaps it was that guy Eric Erickson in your psychology 101 class? Well, According to Eric Erickson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, by our twenties, we should have successfully mastered the stage identified as “Identify vs. Role Confusion.” This stage of development is characterized by independence and a developed sense of self. Failure (I hate that word) to establish this sense of identify can result in one not being sure about herself or her place in society. In other words if you’re unable to find a role that fits you, you’re unsure about your purpose in life. At that age I assumed my role to be a successful women both in my career and in a marriage.
In a society where social media dominates our every day life, we quickly and easily forget to credit ourselves for our personal achievements because we feel as though they don’t live up to or compare to our peers. We as women should work towards shaping other unique definitions about our purpose in life as being more than superwomen who can tackle work and taking care of a family. I hope this post is a stepping stone to appreciating yourself and where you are in life right now and enjoying each moment of your PERSONAL journey.