Alive at 25

Halen Doughty

Birthdays are weird. As a child, my birthday was the best day of the year, as far as I was concerned. Into my teens, I celebrated entire birthday weeks with slumber parties and adventures. Early into my adulthood, birthdays were just another excuse to turn up on the weekend. Now my birthday falls on a weekday, and I will be at work because it's really just another Wednesday.

So needless to say, the fun starts to dwindle as the years go on.

Progressing into adulthood, I feel like they become less and less exciting because with them comes age. Turning another year older was a lot more fun when it came with legal drinking and no curfews. Now that those milestones include the ability to rent a car and the loss of my parent's health insurance, it's much less romantic.

I turned 25 on May 9, and I've been thinking a lot about my life in my now mid-twenties. I look back on my younger self and feel like 15-year-old me would be proud of who I am ten years down the road. But when I think about 18-year-old me, fresh out of high school with all these plans for my life, I wonder if she would be as impressed with where I am now.

It's even harder when I look around and see people my age in vastly different stages of life. It got me thinking about where I should be, or at least thought I would be, by now. To the ones who feel like they are falling behind in life, the ones watching friends reach milestones in their lives - weddings, births, careers - and just not getting there, I get it.

Mid-twenties has got to be one of the scariest periods of life, though I'm sure some older, adultier adults will laugh with a "just wait" and a smirk. (Cue eye roll.)

I, like many, was sure I would be "further along" in life by now. By 25, I knew I would be married (or at least engaged) and embarking on some exciting career complete with a house and financial stability. Let's all take a moment to laugh. And laugh. (Okay, that's enough, stop laughing.)

It's odd being at a point in life where half my friends are married with kids, the other half are too wasted to find their keys, and I'm somewhere in the middle. It's like being caught in limbo trying to decide if it's time to grow up or enjoy what is left of my waning youth.

That in turn makes maintaining relationships somewhat awkward. New parents are settling into their lives, leaving those of us without kids on the sidelines. On the flip side, college friends who aren't working can't always relate to the I-can't-get-wasted-on-a-Wednesday-because-I-have-work-in-the-morning mentality. Truth be told, I'm not great at that either.

I can't be the only twenty-something feeling left behind and a little lost. At times I find myself watching my friends settle down into their lives and wonder, when will I get there? Is there some magical point I reach in life when things fall into place?

I thought maybe it would be when I graduated college. Then again, perhaps when I moved out of my hometown. Finally, when I started by first "big girl" job out of college. But somehow it's like I'm still searching for what I thought life would be at this point.

Of course it doesn't help that every time I attend one of my friend's weddings or baby showers the question always comes up. "When are you getting married/having a baby?" Or the not-so-subtle hints anytime I go out on a date. (I'm looking at you, mom.)

The truth is, I'm not even sure what I want, much less when I will get it. Do I want kids? Should I get married? Is my career heading in the right direction? I don't even know where to begin, and to be honest, it's more than a little nerve racking.

I see friends struggling in similar ways, at different ages and in different cities. We're the ones with just enough money for rent and the occasional Sunday brunch, but no where near enough for a house. We're the ones taking off ties and heels on Fridays at five and waking up with hangovers on Saturdays at noon.

For those who will say I'm whining, I'm aware there are much bigger problems in life than my generations overwhelming sense of self-doubt and misdirection. But it's something I think a lot of people my age struggle with. We often ask ourselves if we're heading down the right path, which in my case gives me anxiety wondering if I need to jump ship and change course.

All in all, things are great. I've got an awesome job working with some amazing people who have a lot to teach me. My new place is incredible. (Seriously guys, you should see my backyard!) I have the best house panther I could ask for, and some terrific friends to boot. I know all this.

But it doesn't stop the nagging feeling that perhaps there's something more, that I should be doing more, achieving more, reaching for more. I'm not sure there's a right time for anything, and I'm certain everyone's life happens at a different pace. Still, it's hard not to catch a case of life-envy from time to time.

I'm holding on to the saying that the grass ain't always greener on the other side, and at this point I'm just going to trust that I'm right where I need to be.

Follow Halen on Twitter: @LikeVanHalen