Yesterday was my birthday. I am now only one year away from turning thirty, and oddly enough, this doesn’t worry me at all. It’s amazing how one’s view on a subject can change so much over time. I used to be terrified of getting older – because I had this strange illusion that my age had to reflect my life experience, that I, somehow, had to earn my age.
I had a bit of a rough start in my 20’s. I started working a job that I didn’t like (simply to be able to pay rent), and I ended up staying there for three years. Getting that monthly paycheck was a comfortable security and I was too scared to jeopardize that. Besides, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life… but each year that passed only increased my worries. Seeing people around me getting degrees, fancy jobs and travel the world gave me intense anxiety at times. I was only about twenty-three, yet I already felt like a failure. It’s ridiculous to think about that now when I know everything turned out ok – I feel proud of my achievements during my 20’s.
Me being a good adult and baking my own birthday cake
It’s important to understand that things rarely just happen on their own. With the risk of sounding like a cliché – we are the protagonists of our own lives, and no one would want to read the book if the main character never goes on any adventure. While the definition of “adventure” is highly relative, the idea is that we make the choices that move our story forward.
Closing in on the three year mark on my boring job, I got an opportunity in my lap. My boyfriend at the time had got a new job that would take him to Luxemburg, a tiny country crammed between France, Germany and Belgium. I was asked if I wanted to move there with him. This was the very thing that I had always been afraid of; travelling to unknown places, leaving security behind, having uncertain plans… all of that was the stuff of nightmares for me, yet I was so miserable where I was, that I still made the choice of going.
So I quit my job and got a one-way ticket to Luxemburg. It was complete madness, no one but my bohemian mother thought it was a good idea. My friends didn’t take it seriously, they thought I’d be home again, begging for my old job back within a few weeks. I had taken all my savings and left my only security to make this work. Thankfully, it did. I ended up staying for 2,5 years; I got a job at a life insurance company where I made three times more than my old salary, I made new friends, made myself a new life with experiences that changed and affected me in all sorts of ways – all because of one choice.
It might be worth thinking about that the next time you’re at a crossroads in life. Taking the leap and going so far outside your comfort zone you can’t even see it anymore might actually reward you in the most unexpected ways. Sure, I’m back in Sweden since a few years now, but here I am, just turned twenty-nine, and pretty content with how I got here. It isn’t at all about “earning” your age. As long as you relax and recognise the opportunities that present themselves, then your age will automatically correspond with the life you’ve lived, and will continue to do so for the years that are still ahead of you.