25 is Not the Loneliest Number

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Editor's Note: This story was 1 of 5 finalists in our Quarterlife Crisis Essay Contest. And is the WINNER!! Congrats Teddi! We loved your story, and so did a lot of others! See the other great stories that were in the running here.


"25" has always held special meaning in my life. My birthday is on January 25, and I’ve long been a firm believer that certain numbers can have a very specific and meaningful impact on your being. Ever since I was a little girl, for reasons I can’t quite comprehend or explain, 25, my “golden” birthday, was the age I most looked forward to. I believed that turning a quarter century would signify adulthood, and that my life would be falling into place exactly the way I always thought it should and would.

But then I found myself at 24, miserable, unemployed, and single. I couldn’t finish the book I’d long dreamed of completing and publishing. Suddenly, 25 wasn’t looking so bright anymore. The magic had disappeared, the spark extinguished. I wasn’t married (or even dating) like I thought I’d be. There was no real writing career to speak of. I didn’t feel like an adult or even like much of a success. Instead I felt as though I’d fallen short because I wasn’t filling the roles I’d so long expected to. My plans had gone awry; nothing happened like I’d thought and hoped it would.

I had no choice but to turn 25 and go on with my life. And little by little, I forged ahead. I decided to be selfish. I started to write more. I dated. I got great job offers. I joined the local chapter of an international women’s club and was awarded “Best New Member” upon obtaining active membership. I went skiing for the first time. I started to practice yoga and take indoor cycling classes. I traveled to Israel with a group of complete strangers.

The more I put myself out there and tried new things, the better I felt. I realized that I didn’t have to view my place in the world at 25 as a ‘failure’, but merely as a place. You can only scold yourself so much for not being betrothed or a published author by a drop dead deadline. There are some things in life you just can’t plan, and that’s okay.

My five year old self, ten year old self, 15 year old self, and every single other version of me was right all along. 25 was a turning point. I thought it would merely highlight my successes, but instead it signified the beginning of something really good. My life now is nothing like I thought it would be. It’s much better.

I can honestly say that every day since turning 25 has been a slow but steady climb up the self-esteem ladder. I've learned that happiness is a mood, not a destination. I've learned that the most beautiful girl in the room is not necessarily the prettiest, but the most confident. I've learned that you have to fall in love with yourself before you can truly expect someone else to. I spent my early twenties drawing lines and I’m spending my late twenties crossing them. I still haven’t finished the damn book, but I’m happy to report that I am much closer.

Recently, a dear friend confided in me her concerns about turning a quarter century old, not having accomplished and achieved all she’d expected to by then. She was upset about how it was affecting her present and worried about what it would mean for her future. She spent the days leading up to her birthday absolutely dreading every last bit of it. I’m going to tell all of you the same thing I told her.

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. My life began at 25.

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