But I digress. Because I suppose what really is at the heart of all of this is why 26 has become my "freak out year" (Okay, perhaps I'm being a little dramatic). I anticipate that a large part of this was because (I don't know about you) that there are various cultural expectations of where one will be in their life at certain ages. You know: sweet 16: first kiss (didn't happen until age 21.75), age 18: win lottery (still waiting on this one), age 22: graduate from college (I took my time getting through college, so actual time of departure was 23), age 25: see above, age range 22-30ish get married, perhaps insert child onto Earth (not commenting here), age 30: be depressed about being 30, age 40 own house (yes, this is how long it is going to take me to buy a house given the new percentage for a down payment is TWENTY PERCENT)--you get it. Wow, in looking back, apparently I take my own sweet time doing things. But do you really want to know the truth? I imagine, if you went back to 16-year-old Jess and asked her where she would be in ten years, she would have said the following, "Hmmm. School teacher (history). Married. Kid (?). House. Really awesome." 26 was this sort of abstract, unattainable ENTITY, sort of vague, but sort of clear-ish. And then I went to college and learned about LIFE. REAL LIFE AND HOW THE MAN GETS YOU DOWN. Just kidding (sort of :).
No but seriously. Perhaps the pressure of getting older is seeing where others in life are around you, and this really helps no one. This person started their own business. This person owns a house or got the job you always wanted or is attending the program you wanted to. This person gets to be the back up dancer for Bon Jovi, even though Bon Jovi doesn't even HAVE back up dancers, but that person was THAT good. This person is pro-creating (and you can too!--eek!). So-and-so went around the globe and cured world hunger from their ipad (OK, definitely would NOT complain about this one-cure! cure! cure!). But you get the point. Perhaps with things such as facebook, my generation is in constant comparison with where everyone else is in their life. And this can be a very dangerous road to walk down, because in fact, God does not work this way, and takes her own sweet time gettin' you to where you need to be (and if you are like me, you HATE hearing this phrase. Like, totally, seriously HATE it. Because it's true, and there's sometimes nothing more irritating than hearing something you don't want to hear but need to hear).
Because what I realize now is that, at 26, while I am certainly not in the place I would have anticipated, and having none of the above things that I think many of us consider "life markers," I have gotten so much more richness and depth and become a woman far different than I could have imagined I would be (for better or for worse). It seems the things that many of us want in life, you know, that make you a "real adult," can be empty if not filled with the trials and tribulations you had to go through to earn them. And life is so far outside the very short sighted walls of our concept of life markers anyways (and this is of course not to say that those that have attained these markers are wrong by any means--not what I'm saying at all!!! I'm saying we're simply all at different places than maybe we would have believed, and need to experience things at different times). 16-year-old Jess (16YOJ for short) had a very short-sighted perception of herself at 26. While it has been a very challenging past two years since I moved to Connecticut (16YOJ would have never imagined that the 26YOJ would be across the country...no farther east than Pocatello), I've learned lessons I didn't even know I needed to learn, and met incredible people who have shared in teaching me those lessons (and not just in Connecticut). I earned a degree that shook up my faith, and completely (and yes, I do mean COMPLETELY) changed my view of the world. I DRINK COFFEE NOW. I speak less, or try to (yes, this may be hard to believe. Sometimes I marvel at the fact that I still have friends--I can be very verbose/moderately obstinate). In many ways, I am a shell of the person I once was, and yet still very much the same (READ: incessantly lose things, such as when I absentmindedly left my glasses at Brittany's house in Seattle last week. I am writing this blog blindly. No, seriously, I'm blind, and if I think I made a typo I have to get my face about 0.5 inches away from the screen to see if my assumption was correct). I also still have a sweet tooth to be rivaled, and I still consistently say stupid things. I do not know the difference between than and then. But as my neighbor told me the other day, "You can only be Jess."
Well, world, here I am, loud and proud. President 9 years from today.
Oh, finally, per tradition, my 26-year-bucket list!!! (can you say something's a tradition if you've only done it once prior? I say yes.)
1. See "Wicked" (happening September 11!)
2. Italy (happening in March!)
3. Try to write an article and get something published (I got told the other day I should try free-lance writing. What do you think?)
4. Start graduate school (hopefully happening in the fall!)
5. More volunteering
6. See Darren Criss on Broadway, hopefully "woo" him with my big baby blues and sparkling personality (this is non-essential to my contentment, but highly preferable)
7. Create a budget and actually stick to it--find more ways to be thrifty with what I have instead of buying more (I was moderately successful with my no clothes buying stint last year!)
8. Continue to get involved in the community, and try new things through various community organizations
9. Though very ambiguous and perhaps a little abstract, I want to continue working on supporting and helping others, and thinking less about myself (surprisingly difficult)
10. That's all I can think of for now, but I feel like "9" is an incomplete list. Perhaps this is sort of my OCD coming out. Maybe #10 should be "Be less OCD."
Hello 26th year! Come forth boldly and beautifully!