Age 27: This IS Real Life.

For some odd (and probably Freudian reason), up until this point in my life, I seemed to have been living in Not Real Life. I kind lived with this strange illusionary fantasy since this is just a momentary stage in my life, and I’m still young, I can do whatever I want, and I can just change the unhealthy habits when I get out of this stage. Like, I’m only in college for four years, so it’s fine to eat fast food everyday–when I am out of college, I will start worrying about eating healthy. Or, I am only in grad school for two years, so it’s OK for me to stay up all night–once I am done and in my thirties, then I will start sleeping. No need to save any money right now–when I have a better paying job in five years from now, that’s when I will start saving.

I think the change occurred when I visited my dentist after I turned 27; I am always reminded, “Britany, stop brushing your gums so hard. You have recession.” Up until this dental visit, I kind of just brushed the warning off as just ‘advice’ and never changed any of my brushing habits, until one day, I panicked and realized that my receding gums aren’t growing back.

Nor are my hairs that are now grey. The bags under my eyes from lack of sleep are now causing wrinkles that are only slightly preventable by Mary Kay’s expensive night cream.  The ache in my knee will only continue to become more painful the longer I wear and tear on it. My bank account is not magically growing anymore money. Oh, and that beautiful, hand crafted, dark oak table I thought I’d have in my very own house by now? Yeah…

I think many of us turn 27 and realize how quickly we will be 30 (and we always thought 30 was SO OLD). Even being 26 didn’t seem that bad, but there is just something startling about now being 27, that I’m just now realizing my hopes and dreams might come with some limitations.

To our youth, we always encourage them to “shoot for the stars” and that “they can be anything they want to be!” Even at 24, I still threaded these ignorant and optimistic beliefs about my future. There will still hopes I could one day make it as a Grammy-award winning singer if I posted enough videos of my talents on YouTube; certainly the 30 minutes I spent twice a week on the stair climber at the gym beefed me up enough to win me a medal at the Leadville Marathon if I tried really hard; and if I wanted to become a doctor, I still could.

And now at 27, I’m having some really humbling realizations. If I haven’t been recognized as the singer yet, I’m probably never going to be. Chances of me winning the Leadville Marathon are pretty slim (especially after my less than stellar performance at the Ragnar Relay this summer), and no, my MCAT scores will never be high enough to get into med school, no matter how many times I pay Pearson for test prep classes. This is the body I’ll be habituating in for the next few decades–eating daily Fast Food is now only going to cause cellulite that is much more difficult to burn off, but may also clog my arteries, increase my heart rate, and lead to indigestion. This is the mind I will be working with, so allowing too many negative thoughts may stunt its’ potential. These are the only teeth and set of gums I have, so brushing too hard may make them fall out.

Interestingly, however, this shift in thinking–from expecting to be a someday, to realizing I will never be a somebody–has been quite freeing. Albert Camus, the Absurdist philosopher says, “Likewise and during every day of an unillustrious life, time carries us. But a moment always comes when we have to carry it. We live on the future: “tomorrow,” “later on,” “when you have made your way,” “you will understand when you are old enough.” Such irrelevancies are wonderful, for, after all, it’s a matter of dying. Yet a day comes when a man notices or says that he is thirty. Thus he asserts his youth. But simultaneously he situates himself in relation to time. He takes his place in it. He admits that he stands at a certain point on a curve that he acknowledges having to travel to its end. He belongs to time, and by the horror that seizes him, he recognizes his worst enemy. Tomorrow, he was longing for tomorrow, whereas everything in him ought to reject it. That revolt of the flesh is the absurd.” The Absurdist believe that, once you have accepted that life has no meaning–you are nothing but a sum of some particles that happened to get together and make a person–then you are finally free and able to enjoy your existence.

I’ve always been the kind of person who has strived to win all of the awards, to do all of the things, be the stand out for everything, and as I move into my 27th year, I’m oddly at ease with the fact that perhaps I’ve already done all the outstanding and stellar things I will ever do, and I am oddly content that perhaps the next part of my existence means going to work, getting a dog, having a family, doing Saturday chores and Sunday dinners–living a very average and quotidian things–and that’s it. (Of course, 26 year old Britany would never think this possible).

“I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless.” -Albert Camus

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