There’s something about 27. You already feel physically ill at the fact that you’re almost hitting 30 on your birthday, but then as the months pass by and you see your life not changing, you start to wonder.
Are things always going to stay this way?
Am I going to get the job I want?
Am I ever going to be at the place that I imagined I’d be after university?
I think we all procrastinate, but I’m really bad. I tell myself that I’ll clean my room tomorrow, I’ll fix up that file when I get some time, I’ll start building my website during the holiday–everything to me gets put off.
But these are all just trivial things. What about the big goals in life? I want to learn French, I’ll get around to it later. Maybe I’d like to do web design or graphic design, I’ll think about taking a class later on. How about submitting some articles freelance? Yeah, I got a few ideas, I’ll get to it.
Either way, it feels like I’ve been telling myself this stuff since I graduated from university and one day I woke up and find myself 27 and far below my expectations, barely checking off half the times on the list.
To be fair, I did learn Japanese. I did pick up everything, move to China, and learned how to speak fluent Mandarin.
But at the same time, I still feel so lost. Just what do I want to do with my life? You see those people with a mission: I want to be an investment banker. I want to go to law school. I want to be a musician. They put all their blood, sweat and tears into fulfilling this role, and it’s a beautiful process.
I hope that I can have this fervor for something. Of course, I love interpreting and translating, but sometimes a part of me hopes that someone will interpret for ME. I just don’t want to be the medium, I want to be the one that’s actually making things happen. That’s making a difference.
After 25, all your friends start getting married and having kids. At first you just shrug your shoulders and scroll past all the baby photos on Facebook, but then as you hit 26 and 27 you start seeing your best friends get married. The ones that said they never would. And those people that you thought would be eternally single are having children, 2 or 3, and they’re posting pictures of their happy family life on Facebook.
While I’m living alone in Shanghai dealing with a flea infestation.
I never dreamed of stability or just ‘settling down,’ but as I get older and see the people around me start setting their life down, I feel like I’m the weirdo. Pretty soon I’m going to be that 30 year old single woman that people whisper about, that say “oh, I heard Mary STILL isn’t married.” That kind of stuff.
I won’t let it bother me, but at the same time, I think… Maybe I need to get my life in order too? Go back to the USA, get a good job, a 401k, start saving up for a house and stop all this crazy traveling and start a family like a normal person. When I was 22 I thought I would never want this kind of life, even at 25 I abhorred the thought of being eternally placed in one place.
But now, the thought of creating a home, a place where I can watch TV with my husband and play with my kids–it does sound more and more appealing.
I know it would get old, though. I’d just get frustrated with life at home and I’d lose my mind balancing life and work. I knew, and still do, that I’m not a normal American. I love America, it’s an amazing place, but whenever I go back I can’t help but feel the stark contrast between me and the average Utahn. Every now and then I’ll meet someone that has been abroad and we spark, we click, we start conversation. But these encounters are rare.
I think I’m going to end up being one of those weird parents. The ones that drag their kids all over the world and make them octo-lingual. I always thought that would be horrible for my kids, constantly changing environments and never really having a sense of identity.
But here in Shanghai I’ve met a ton of people with these kinds of backgrounds. And they are extremely successful and cultured. They speak 5 languages minimum, and in addition, they have drive and vision. They have the life that I wanted and I could only attain at 22 upon graduation. I’d like to drag my kid all over Europe while speaking Chinese or Japanese at home while s/he figures out what their dream in life is.
As a woman at 27, you start freaking out as well. You feel the ‘time bomb’ coming on strong. It’s ticking, and it’s ticking loud. You know after 30 it’s going to get harder to have kids, and you start wondering whether kids will actually be a possibility or not. Maybe at 25 you didn’t want to be married, but you start becoming so frightened at 27 you get desperate. You know that 25 is hot, but at 27 men kind of start seeing you as ‘old.’ While a 27 year old man is still thriving in this youth and faced with limitless opportunities (and a wide selection of younger women to date), a 27 year old woman has fewer options for picking a compatible mate. I imagine 27 year old men tend to date younger, but that’s something most 27 year old women find a harder task. Basically, we start freaking out. Are we going to find anyone?
You balance this stress to get married and have kids with trying to find a suitable career, and you have some 27 year olds just breaking down. I’m sure 28 is the same. I’m not even half as rich as I’d imagine myself at this age. I thought after JET I’d be making bank with my cool Japanese skills and I’d work in a high-rise in Tokyo doing god knows what. I didn’t realize that necessary skills are needed to actually make money, not just drive and determination.
In other words, reality finally leers its ugly head and bites you in the ass at 27. All those things you never wanted to think about, or you put off in your early 20’s, come and attack you. They throw you to the ground, straddle you and clasp their cold hands around your neck. Literally, I feel like I’m suffocating sometimes under all of this pressure.
Lately, however, I take a look back and think about all of the awesome stuff I’ve doe. I lived and breathed Japan for 2 years, and I learned to speak Chinese and understand this crazy place called Zhongguo. I met more life-changing people than I could ever hope to encounter in Utah, or even the USA, and I learned to have a broader view of the world.
I regret nothing. I need to move forward. But I do need to stop procrastinating. I need to start writing. Web designing. Doing more. I’m starting French classes on Tuesday and I’m going to try and start submitting freelance articles to local magazines.
I may be 27, but I’m still young. I still have options. I’m still a woman with dreams and hope and ambition. I read my previous posts and feel like my drive has been sapped dry by the everyday life of Shanghai, but I know better. I still have spirit. I have drive. And I’m still going to do all the things I wanted to do at 25.
I’m going to explore the world. With child or not, I will take my journeys around the world.
I will translate, interpret, design and write. These are my skills, and I will prefect them.
But I’m going to be more positive. Sometimes I become so negative and crawl into a hole to hide, but I need to come out, face the world and stand tall. I need to have confidence. Make myself a better person. Don’t let age push me back and become something truly worth gloating about.
I still have 8 months of being 27. I have to make it count.