I don't necessarily believe in quarter-life crises. I think in your 20s, every year comes with its own brand of existential crisis and some big perceived upheaval of your identity and the weird joy and angst that comes with it. You're constantly evolving into weird pseudo-versions of yourself in this decade (or so I hear, from the humans who have fully made their way through it). But the year you turn 25 gets a lot of flack and attention simply for being a "milestone" year. You're decidedly not in your early 20s anymore, the age when you're inherently forgiven by society for floundering. And if Five For Fighting is right and we really do have "100 Years To Live," then 25 is the year when we're, y'know, 25 percent of the way done with what we're going to do here.
It's because of this that the sense of reevaluating your life seems particularly exaggerated at this stage — what you've done, what you haven't done, what you have to accept you might never do. It's one of those first ages that feels like both a beginning and an ending. It's natural to be more critical of yourself at this stage, not just watching where your peers are at, but seeing all the now seemingly cryptic headlines — things you were supposed to have done by 21 that you never did, things you were supposed to do by 25 you just missed the deadline for, and a whole host of things you're supposed to do by 30 that now just feel like the earth is going to swallow you up.
Deep down, you know it's all nonsense — we're all vastly different humans with different perspectives and different things that fulfill us, and ultimately we know what will make us happy in life and what won't. But even that knowledge isn't enough to fully quell that anxious little voice in the back of your head, wondering if you've done enough, if you've experienced enough, if you're enough. Well, here's your chance to shut that little voice up once and for all — or at least for a few hours, if you can. Because the truth is, there is no deadline to the things you are "supposed" to do. And there's nothing on any of those lists you should feel obligated to do in the first place. So to combat those notions, here is a list of things you most certainly don't have to accomplish by 25 years old:
Taking Your Big "Solo Adventure/Find Yourself" Trip
There's an awful lot of pressure for people to do this early in their lives, which is kind of staggering considering both the financial cost and the anxiety it can inspire in some people. You're no less brave or adventurous of a person if you prefer to travel in groups, or if you put off your travel to a time when you're more financially secure or when it just feels right. You'll have more fun traveling if you do it on your own time, at your own pace.
Getting Off Your Parents’ Phone Plan
Listen — even long after you're paying your own rent, your own health insurance, your own everything else that is necessary to keeping you alive, you're probably going to be on the family plan. Let go of the residual guilt. (But maybe not the family Netflix password just yet.)
Finding Your “Forever” Job
Honesty hour: The way things are moving, your job probably isn't going to exist in 10 years, anyway. There's no reason at this age to feel resigned to a certain path, especially the way the professional world is constantly evolving. Follow your gut, whether your gut is telling you you're happy where you are or your gut is telling you to seize an opportunity that strays from your ~master plan~.
Buying Your Classic, “Last Forever” Items
I'm kind of tired of people advising us to only buy expensive things that will last us a really long time — not because the advice isn't smart or well-intentioned, but because, quite honestly, it's hard to do at 25. It's not always financially feasible, and the fact is, the things that look super classic and lovely to you at 25 might make you cringe at 27. (I'm still too close to my teenage boho, wooden necklace-buying phase to trust my taste in anything, personally.) Your tastes are still evolving, and you'll probably be moving to some other apartments in the next few years anyway. No shame in buying cheap, used, and standard.
Living Somewhere Instagram-Worthy
You’re 25. By definition, you live in a trash hole. Thank god for that one Instagrammable corner of your kitchen that you pose all your avocados and cupcakes from, because it's way more than you can expect at this phase of life.
Paying The Proportional Amount For Your Rent
Listen, the statistical odds of you being able to only spend one-third of your salary on rent with what you make at 25 are zero to none. There are plenty of ways to keep your finances under control and save for the future, even if you're spending more on rent than you're "supposed" to — don't let the world shame you into moving somewhere cheaper just to follow this rule. There is nothing more vital to your health, your mindset, and your lifestyle than the place you choose to live, and if you're shelling out extra money in your budget for it, it's almost always worth it.
Figuring Out What Your “Type” Is — For Anything
You don't have to have a favorite aesthetic or personality for a partner. You don't have to have a go-to shoe. You don't have to have a favorite color or a favorite spot or a favorite city. Let yourself be whatever the hell you want to be, and like what you like. The world will already box you in whenever it can — don't help it by boxing in yourself.
Finishing Your Education
This might just be the exact time in your life that you look around at your career, realize it's not what you want to do, and decide you have to go back to school to do whatever you want to accomplish. Hell, if you went to grad school, you might not have ever stopped with your education. There is weirdly a stigma on people our age who aren't in the "work force," per se, but those people are forgetting that getting an education and supporting yourself while doing it is difficult AF. If you're in school at this age, props to you. Don't apologize for not following the herd.
Having An Answer About Whether Or Not You Want Kids
You might desperately want them now, and find out in a few years that you really are quite comfortable without them. The reverse might happen. The point is, you don't have to know right now, and nobody should make you feel obligated to know — not now or really ever.
Knowing Your Hogwarts House
This sounds like a joke, but hear me out: The idea that you will in any way fundamentally be the same person you were at 11, or 17, or 21 that you are at 25 is completely and utterly ridiculous. You will have different motivations and priorities every damn day of your life, and it's impossible to categorize yourself on a forever basis. So yeah, you'll be a Hufflepuff one year and a Slytherin the next month, but all of that is just to speak to a larger truth — you are a fluid and individual human being, and you can't define yourself or let other people do it for you.
Having $10,000 In Savings
Having $10,000 in savings is great, in theory. But did you know that most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings? In this economy, and in this stage of life, it's incredibly difficult to save a lump sum of money this large. Just keep chugging along toward your savings goals, and try not to beat yourself up whenever there's a setback. Yes, it's important to save at this stage of life — but (and please don't murder me for saying this) your 20s are also a magical time for chasing your YOLO, so don't hold yourself back too much for the sake of having a huge nest.
Stop Using Emoji In Texts
Whether you are using them ironically or un-ironically, the emojis are here to stay. You will not transform into a magical grownup butterfly the moment you stop texting with them. Own your unicorn pizza cry face mamma jamma, and don't apologize for it.
Making A Lofty Fitness Goal And Succeed At It
You are not going to feel magically more fulfilled if you run a half marathon. You are going to have something to be smug about on social media for a few days (#guilty), but after that, you will be no more the profound or inspired human that you were before. If you do make these kind of goals for yourself, make sure it's because you love it — not because you felt obligated to try.
Having A “Signature Dish”
What is this, the 1950s? If you like eating mac and cheese for dinner, eat mac and cheese for dinner. There are plenty of people in the world who enjoy cooking. Go pay them for food. You don't have to be the next Julia Child to live your most delicious life.
Having Regular Doctors In The City You Moved To
Odds are if you moved away from your hometown, or where you lived with your parents, you still have a dentist and a gyno and a foot lady and an entire army of doctors that you still go out of your way to see whenever you're back. And yeah, everyone's ribbing you to just get doctors where you live and save yourself the hassle — but at the end of the day, you've been with these people a long time. You trust them. And that is and forever will be the most important factor when it comes to medical care. There's nothing "childish" about sticking to the people you trust and know.
Meeting A Celebrity
Would it be cool? For shizzle. Does it make you any more or less or an accomplished person professionally or personally? Nah.
Deleting Your Dating Apps
We need to blow off that whole stigma of "outgrowing" your dating apps, or the magic cliché superiority of having met someone in the ~real world~. Meeting people has just as much potential for magic no matter how you're meeting them, and if you'd rather rely on dating apps, more power to ya.
Becoming A “Morning” Person
You will always be the snooze alarm’s b*tch. Forgive yourself.
Having A Sizable Social Media Following On A Platform
Seriously, what a dumb way to designate your own "worth," or anyone else's, for that matter. I think we're all so anxious to prove ourselves and our worthiness, and having followers is one way to "prove" it — but ultimately, the number of followers we have has no bearing on our intelligence, our ingenuity, or the value of our real human friendships.
Feeling Like Your Parents’ Equal
Spoiler alert: They’re always going to be older and wiser. You will never catch up. There are always going to be unexpected new things you can relate to that you couldn't before, and they'll be hella fun to talk about as a grownup, but it doesn't mean they're ever going to stop being the people who raised you.
Staying In Constant Touch With All The Important People In Your Past
Sometimes there are going to be friendships or old connections that fall to the wayside. Don't beat yourself up about it. If you have a real bond, you'll be able to pick it up where you left off your whole life — but honestly, right now life is way too chaotic to expect yourself to stay in constant touch with every single important person from your past.
Living By Yourself
As a person who did accidentally have to do this once when I transferred colleges mid-year, I can tell you for a fact that it's not as fun or fulfilling as it sounds. I am an extremely independent person who, after the first week, got extremely lonely. And even if you're not the kind of person this would happen to, holy paycheck, Batman — there's almost no way you can afford this at 25. There is no shame in living that roommate life. You're all in this together, after all.
Dating Someone You Considered Spending Your Life With
First off, maybe you have no intentions of spending your life with anyone, so this a non-issue. But even if you do, it's absurd to put any kind of deadline on this. It's all about timing, and personal growth, and where you are at in your life. Just because you haven't experienced a certain kind of love by 25 doesn't by any means prove that you're not capable of feeling it.
Loving Every Part Of Yourself, Wholly, All The Time
While you should always make a conscious effort to love your body and own your ideas and treat yourself the way you deserve, it's just plain not going to happen sometimes. Let yourself be disappointed in your failings, forgive yourself for nitpicking, and acknowledge the things that make you uncomfortable or angry or sad. Being 25 doesn't mean you've ascended to some higher realm above self-doubt — but it does mean that you are a lot more grounded and equipped to deal with it than you were before.
Feeling Comfortable With Your Place In The World
This is the most dangerous thing that could ever happen to a person, really. As long as there is some kind of itch or discomfort, you are actively looking for ways to improve yourself, for things that motivate you, for ways to change your life and the lives of people around you. I hope that by 25 we can be satisfied with our accomplishments, but comfortable? I wouldn't wish that on any one of us. There is still way too much left to do.