Letters from The Quarter Century Club: A Meditation on Aging
December, 22, 1992. A baby was born in Greenville, South Carolina; a girl child named Avery Leigh Allen. A name derived from her lineage. A strong name that was racially and gender ambiguous (something of which her father, Thaddeus Allen, is very proud). Avery grew and played and learned. Today that baby born on a December's eve turns 25.
Today Avery Leigh Allen is the oldest she’s ever been.
I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I love birfdays and aging. I say this very beautiful thing about how each birfday marks the end of another successful journey around the sun and celebrates embarking on yet another. Yeah I'm real poetic.
Also, I've been old my whole life lowkey. And it’s fun. I go to bed at a decent hour, I try to get all my fruits and veg in, and treat people right. Truth be told, I’m just getting myself ready to be mid-to-late 30s. That’s when, according to a fair number of women I speak to, tend to live their best lives. But for some reason, 25 really hit me.
For the past month or so, I’ve been kind of frantic almost worrying about what it meant to a quarter century old. It was my dear pal, accomplishment anxiety, rearing it’s awful head once again.
Accomplishment anxiety kept quietly reminding me of all the ways I had failed over the past 15 years. It even took me back to that time I called my male first grade teacher “mom.” The question was “what do you have to show for yourself?” The rational side of myself was not able to break through to the unnecessarily harsh side. I have A BUNCH to show for myself. I just kept harping on all the ways I had let down sweet baby angel Avery.
What I am about to say is going to induce heavy eye-rolling and possibly indigestion in anyone older than 25: I thought I would have it all figured out by now. Yeah, yeah I know. Absolutely ridiculous. Cognitively, I knew it was silly. I knew the things I said I wanted to have done when I was 18, heck even I was 21 or 23, were unrealistic idealisms from an adorable and naive dolphin baby angel. But I couldn't help but ruminate on them as I approached my 25th solar voyage.
Y’all know I'm a Capricorn. If you don't, please refer to my other writings and this amazingly vintage internet zodiac image. I talk about it and today seems even more appropriate to bring it up since it is my birfday. As such, I take my goals very seriously. I am DRIVEN by a relentless need to achieve. So not being able to pull up receipts had me sitting in the car listening exclusively to rappers my age or younger and thinking “they can literally pull out an album and answer this question. I never even released 9PM in Virgina (a verse I wrote in 2013 while stuck in DCA on my way home for Thanksgiving).”
I put myself through it. I didn't really want to talk about it because it’s such a dumb thing to worry about. To escape it I wanted to do brash things like get the “superfluum est mihi ratio*” tattoo I want or get my nose pierced again (and keep it this time!)
Then it hit me — I was having a quarter life crisis. The only thing different between me and the man that buys a Tesla and starts dating Kymberleigh is about 25 years. We both even dye our hair blonde! Very honestly I was relieved. The only thing wrong with me was that I was letting ridiculous assumptions about what ~should~ happen ~when~ cancel out all the great things I’ve already done and am poised to do. I was a bit angry at myself and the youth-obsessed, greed-motivated, hegemonic superstructure in which our society functions. But that is a topic for another blog (good thing I'm going to start back doing these regularly)
Once I got over that I had been duped by time and society, I started working against it. I began daily gratitudes to counteract being blue about things I didn't have. I read my resume and website to remind myself how hard I’ve worked and how that work has paid off. I bought myself an extravagant satin jacket to say to myself “wow I look good in this extravagant satin jacket!” And it worked! I’m steadily feeling like my old self (all the puns intended)
Y'all also know I love my morals. I love extracting meaning from my experiences. So what did I learn? What was the product of my emotional toiling? Is there a purpose in the quarter life crisis?
I learned it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole. Especially in today’s world when its almost impossible not to compare yourself to your peers on the internet (No shade to my peers. I see y'all out here doing big things and I delight in celebrating them with you!) I have to measure my growth against previous versions of myself (good thing I keep awesome records). The purpose of the emotional toiling and the quarter life is to produce a better person. I really do feel like a more self possessed, confident, woman. Before I was moreso living as an alright old girl. But now I'm grown, I can rent a car, and not be responsible for others’ opinions of me.
I work hard, I do good things, and I’m working on being better everyday.
Here’s to 25 years and 25x25 more! (yes I want to live to be 625).
*"Superfluum est mihi ratio" is a rough Latin translation of a bar from Rick Ross’ Devil in a New Dress verse, “excess is just my character." I will never get a tattoo because I heal and scar poorly. But if I did, that would be it.