What’s My Age Again? Oh, Yeah. 25: Welcome to the Real World

Whats in this story

My name is Brynna, I am 25, and I live at home with my parents.

Did that feel like the introduction to a group meeting? I suppose it kind of should seeing as so many of us are in the same, semi sinking boat we call millennialhood. But I digress. Let me continue down the path of self deprecation.

I am newly 25.

I live in my parents basement with my geriatric cat.

I have absolutely no savings and likely won’t any time soon…

For I only work as a bartender three nights a week and I can’t stop myself from consistently going on, what I like to call, “mini-trips.”

Have you written me off as a self important loser with a self important blog yet, or will you give me the benefit of the doubt and let me chalk it  to a “transitionary period”?

I call it transitional because I am in between one stint of long term travel and (hopefully soon) another. I’m home. And yes, I’m  broke. But that’s because I have spent the last two years traveling across the planet. From Europe to Southeast Asia to East Africa and back home again. I have been working odd jobs, making just enough money to get by, (and saving just enough for my next plane fare) all the while chasing my lifelong dream of being a writer and an adventurer.

Upon my return home it’s been suggested to me that perhaps it’s time to settle down and start ‘real life.’ I am, as I’m constantly reminded, now 25, for chrissake. Shouldn’t I aim for a little more stability? Isn’t it about time I grew up?

Real life.

I’ve always hated that.

Because to suggest that I need to begin real life is to imply that everything I’ve been doing up until now wasn’t real.

That the moments of pure and genuine happiness and the hours spent engulfed in spellbinding trysts have been figments of my imagination. That the days and weeks and months I have spent so heartbroken that I was almost convinced a gnarled fist had burrowed itself into my chest and sunk it’s yellowed claws into my beating heart have been mere sympathy pains for someone else’s reality. That the friends I’ve collected and love with all of my soul are fictional characters and that the events that have shaped my whole world are just common fables.

It is also said with the belief that while I was off chasing the dream, things were always easy and always dreamy. That I didn’t have weeks where I made no money and had nothing to eat but plain pasta for every meal. That I didn’t have to struggle to pay the rent and found myself, some months, begging for an extension. That I didn’t go to the grocery store and do my laundry and clean the toilet. That I didn’t work my ass off for every break I’ve gotten in my (albeit, small) writing career.

No, I don’t like to be told I need to get on with real life.

As an eternal optimist, I especially don’t like the intimation that the life and career I’ve been chasing are ephemeral. That I have been living in a make-believe dimension that only a dreamer can exist in and that one day, I must buck up. Grow up. Suck it up and join a world that is apparently more real than the one I have fallen hopelessly in love with.

You see, asking us to join the real world is a kinder way of saying something much more sinister. It’s suggesting we do the thing we swore to ourselves as miraculously impractical children that we would never, ever do.

The ‘real world’, as those who call it such intend it, requires us to let go of the dream.

And I suppose it would be easier, really. Most reasonable and fair-minded people do it at some point or another. And I could too.

I could find some medial happiness as a publisher. Or on the staff of some corporate news entity.  I could take a job in some city with no soul and work in an office with unearthly fluorescent lighting and make a lot of money and have a comfortable life and I would be just fine.

But that’s not where my happiness lives.

And why should it have to? Why do only children get to dream freely? Why is fighting for that dream only charming when you’re in your early 20s? Why, after that, do you need to adjust your expectations? When does grinding and just making ends meet so that you can work towards your big break become pathetic rather than ambitious? At what point does the desire for comfortability overtake the desire for happiness?

25 seems to be the age where the whispers about practicality start. But pardon me if I don’t listen to them.

Pardon me if I ignore the snickers about living in my parents basement and working 40 hours a week in my robe for, until recently (thanks Charlie), no fucking money. For never being too good for a job as long as it supports the dream. For feeling no guilt about turning down solid office positions and shifts at the bar because I have to spend my afternoons perfecting blog posts that won’t have my name on them for companies that are going to pay me pocket change. Pardon me for only planning my life as far as the end of the summer when I pay off my (astronomical) credit card debt so I can travel the world again for just a few drops of inspiration I might put in my novel.

I think a lot of the world wants us to believe that real life has to be what happens after you stop dreaming. But struggling for a dream is as unequivocally real as anything. And there is no age limit, contrary to the collective rhetoric.

I don’t know a whole lot about what’s going to happen in my 25th year around the sun. I don’t know what kind of quarter-life crisis awaits…

But for now the child in my heart is insisting I keep the dream alive.

Have you listened to yours lately? Good. Keep listening. They know best.