On July 6th, I turned 28. Now, I know that for most people, 30 is the BIG birthday. You know, the one that arrives and suddenly you are supposed to be an adult. Not for me. For me, 28 was always that magical age when I was meant to have my entire life together. It was my "grown-up" adult age. Now that this day has come and gone and I have been 28 for about one week now, I have to say: I truly do not feel any different.
What did I expect to happen at age 28 you might ask? Well, to answer that questions, it all started with a rather stupid assignment handed to us in Human Growth and Development class during my Freshman year of college.
The teacher asked us to each create a timeline of what we wanted our lives to look like from this point forward. More talk followed about how this would allow both her and us to know who we were as people and who we wanted to become. I rolled my eyes as she rambled on and on.
Wasn't I in college? This assignment seemed a bit like one I might have received in Middle School. Still, I went ahead and created my timeline. At age 18, 28 seemed eons away. The farthest ahead I usually thought was to finals week or the next date dash!
As I carefully started on my timeline that evening, I concluded that 26 was the perfect age in which to be married by (to a man named Chris-most likely selecting that name because I knew nobody named Chris). Anything after 26 would obviously deem me an "old maid." By 28 I had twin girls, and then by 30, one more boy.
I won't even get into the ridiculousness that happened later in my pretend life (including retirement and living in Europe by age 50). After viewing my retirement plan, I am pretty sure that that is a fantasy!
This was nearly 10 years ago that this assignment was given, and as stupid as I felt it to be, I completely remember each and everything that I put on the timeline.
Am I disappointed that I am not on track with this life I gave myself? Well, I like to think of it as not "off-track" but just delayed slightly. In some ways though, I realize the benefits of this assignment (although I felt it to be so incredibly meaningless at the time).
One day, I do hope to retire and live someplace that I truly desire to be (such as Europe). While this may not be as early as a hoped for, it is still a possibility.
Other parts of this timeline were rather silly and things I do not have control over. Why did I insist I needed to be married by 26? What was I supossed to do to ensure this goal was met? Carry my time line around like a psycho and insist to any guy I dated that I had an expiration date by which I HAD to be married with kids by? And even if I had been married at 26, it would have been highly unlikely that I would have twins by 28 (especially considering there are NO twins in my family).
I have heard others mention their own internal time lines, saying things such as, "I want to go to graduate school by the time I am 30." Or, "By 35, I want to have kids."
Are these time lines that we set for ourselves a healthy way to set goals, or would it be better to just set the goals with no "Magical Age" in which we expect them by? By setting a "Magical Age" are we pushing ourselves to work harder, or simply setting ourselves up for disappointment?