Turning Twenty-Six and Trashing Timelines

May 24, 2020

When I was a little girl, my high school aged babysitter seemed so old. Not old in an “Old Maid” (our favorite card game) way, but old in the “knew what to do when I got stung by a bee” way. 

 

When I was in middle school, my high school and college aged brothers seemed so old. Not old in an “I can’t relate to you way,” but old in the “cool, independent, can drive a car to a friend’s house” way.

 

When I was in high school, my cousins seemed so old. Not in a distant “no longer at the kids' table at the holiday party” way, but old in the “starting new jobs, moving from home, and falling in love” way. 

 

Most of my life, I’ve been the youngest person in my circle. From friends to family to work, I’ve been blessed with an extremely strong group of mentors and loved ones who only ever seemed old in the “know what they’re doing” way. 

 

When you’re growing up, 26 feels ancient. I assumed, many, many, many, years ago, that by 26, I’d be married with maybe a kid and definitely a dog (okay, dogs). I’d know exactly what I wanted to do for work and for play and everything would follow the happy societal timeline you buy into as a child.

 

But then I grew up. And that timeline didn’t make sense to me. Because it wasn’t my timeline.

 

I was talking to a friend the other night when they mentioned feeling behind on where they "should" be. It got me thinking more about this idea of milestones. 

 

I remember once, shortly before my 21st birthday, reading a listicle of “21 things to do before you turn 21.” Clickbait at its finest. I don’t remember where I saw it or what the items on the list were, but I remember thinking that it wasn’t practical for everyone. I remember thinking I should make my own list. 

 

In preparation to write this blog, I thought about how I could play on the number 26: the 26 best decisions I’ve made or the 26 things I wish I’d learned sooner or 26 pieces of advice for my 16-year-old self. 

 

But I want to take a simpler approach. 

 

Here are the 26 things you should do by the time you turn 26:

 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

Whatever the hell you want. 

 

To pretend any of our stories are the same or even comparable does a disservice to everyone. 

 

I know it’s tempting to compare yourself to your friends, your siblings, your classmates, and your colleagues. Try not to. They have their journeys. And you have yours. 

 

Of course, this wouldn’t be a birthday post without at least one piece of unsolicited advice. So here you go: do something kind today. Do something that makes you look like love. Rinse & repeat indefinitely. 

 

And then do whatever the hell else you want. 

 

Love always,

Liz

 

 

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