26

By Thomas Cornish

The psychological effects of turning 26 years old have been abdominal. The tick over from 25-to-26 comes with not only the promise of another day, but also with a dread inducing adult checklist – cultivated by –26– years of enculturation. Trepidation, it seems, has dawned upon my mind.

My early twenties were experienced as a blur, with a sense that opportunity and time stood still for my benefit – within grasping distance at all times. I had the same immediate responsibilities as I do now – showering, satiating myself, handling work obligations and generally surviving — but now a shadow of things to do appears to be following me.

Somehow I feel as though my mind has been burdened with yet more responsibility. It’s as though I’m working toward a hard deadline of 30 to achieve all my goals by. I’ve cemented a meme in my mind that says I must develop and do certain things before I hit 30; as though neuroplasticity ceases as that age and I’ll be that finished version forever.

It’s analogous to an anxiety brought about by only revising the night before an exam. I’m experiencing a sense of urgency and perpetual vigilance: I have to get certain things down on paper, save a certain amount and own something before I hit 30. Because after that, I irrationally believe, everything becomes engraved upon my material status and character.

Getting closer to 30-years-old has brung with it harsh reflection. I now seem to discount all my achievements as not important or worthy of celebration as now there are more integral things to be had. My biological drives are forcing me to strive for stability: a mortgage, marriage (my partner will be delighted to read this) and a wealth inducing a career. Any idea of exploration is treated with aversion and impending doom. My decision to begin a Master’s degree in September is a case in point. The anticipation of starting gives me a feeling of risk. My mind tells me now to just get a job that pays 30-grand a year and be done with it. None of this edginess was apparent when I made the decision; but I was, however, 25-years-old.

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