Growing up is weird. We do so much of it in our early years that we barely even notice all the changes we go through, we just seem to roll with it. Few of us actually feel like adults when we technically become one in our twenties. We spend the first few years trying to work out what that even means.
It turns out there isn’t anywhere near enough time to even get started on that before the existential panic of your quarter-life crisis sets in. Yep, you’re turning 25 and you still don’t have a clue where your life is headed or how to keep a houseplant alive.
Life continues to change at 25, but due to the importance we attach to this ‘milestone’ year, the changes feel more noticeable. Here are some quarter-life reflections from someone who’s about to turn 26.
You’ll be surprised at how exhausting full time employment is, and you’ll spend many weekends simply recovering. Which is fine because even though you’re earning you always seem to be too broke for much weekend fun. This is doubly true if you work in a big city.
The job you have probably isn’t your dream job. You don’t actually know what your dream job is but this one pays the rent and keeps cheese in the fridge. If you’re not fantasising at least once a day about starting your own bakery or going back to uni to study marine biology, you’re doing it wrong.
Your teens were spent trying to escape your parents but now you can’t get enough of them. They RAISED a human and you’re now realising just how crazy that is. In this new phase of your relationship, you'll discover more about them as people in their own right, with life stories and regrets just like you. Frustratingly, this new quality time will be squeezed into short weekends, maybe once every couple of months.
You may get on better with older siblings now, even if they tormented you endlessly when you were kids. Suddenly they’re helping you fill out your tax return or reminding you that mum’s birthday is coming up. If you’re the first-born, being “big bro” or “big sis” will start to take a new meaning. Having someone look up to you can be both heartwarming and terrifying in equal measure.
You’ll work out that you only really have room for 3 - 4 people in your core squad. These are the ones you genuinely care about so you make time for them, even when it feels like you have none. When things go pear shaped you have each other’s backs, and even if they can’t help you fix things, they’re great listeners. They’re also the only people you show your inner idiot to, which is so important in a world that wants you to have LinkedIn endorsements and the same ringtone as everyone else.
Oh yeah, it’s time to unfriend like 80% of people you went you uni with. You’re never going to see them again and their travelling photos are infuriating.
In a relationship at 25:
You joke about getting a cat. Then you wake up, the three of you are living together and you feel like the remaining crumbs of your immaturity have been swept into your new kitchen bin. Although it seems ridiculous to be so excited about new candles or a throw rug, you realise it’s because you’re making something cool with your best friend. The adult world isn’t as scary because you’re a team and you’ll be surprised at how well you can cook after all.
Single at 25:
Having all your free time just for you is pretty cool but it also kinda sucks not having someone to fall asleep in front of Netflix with. So you’ll battle internally with the desire to stay home and eat Kettle Chips versus the fear of dying alone if you don’t go on weird Tinder dates. The most useful lesson you’ll learn as a single Pringle is that you can find your own happiness by throwing yourself into your passions, rather than waiting to find it in someone else.
Your can no longer handle even a moderate amount of par-tay-ing because your hangovers last for days on end. You’re motivated to exercise out of sheer guilt (still counts) because your tummy now clings on to burgers like it’s preparing for winter in Westeros. But when you scroll through your old uni photos you won’t miss the person staring back at you. Or even recognise them sometimes. You’ll be fascinated by how different you can look in the space of a few short years.
You’ll discover that a quarter-life crisis is a real thing when questioning your whole existence as you find yourself in the cereal aisle, torn between Coco Pops and Bran Flakes. You’ll lose sleep wondering if you’re squandering what’s left of your youth, but you’ll also feel like you know yourself better than you did when you were 20. This’ll be reassuring when you pass 20-year-olds vomming in the street on your way home to enjoy a podcast and a hot chai on Friday evening.
The most important way your life changes at 25 may simply be a greater awareness of how much you’ve changed. It’s kind of amazing how different you are to your early twenties model, so try to avoid getting too caught up in nostalgia. Slow down and take time to get to know this new person a bit better; they’re the foundation for all the growing you still have to do.