"Prime of your life"
Between turning 28 and turning 29 I thought often about how I am, at any given moment, the oldest and wisest I've ever been while also being the youngest and most foolish I'll ever be.
Most media has, in my entire lifetime, preached that your 20s are your "best years". But I can confidently say that I am only now, in fast approaching my 30s, even beginning to meet the me that I always thought I could be. An emotional puberty, of sorts.
My 20s have been filled with reactive gears that I'm finally able to name and shame. There were too many periods where, with the salty gift of hindsight, I was in the middle of losing my mind. To say that trauma took away the bulk of my childhood would be an understatement, because I've spent the bulk of my 20s trying to recover both my sense of self as well as most of my young adult memories.
The rush to heal has been completely self imposed (and not endorsed by any professional mental health service provider) so that I have some chance left of enjoying my 30s.
Perhaps my 20s would have been my "prime" without that ultimatum. I did the Europe trip, I've had my fair share of being fiscally irresponsible, I've passed through the red flag romantic relationships and equally questionable friendships. I've met some soulmates and had the shit jobs. What exactly do I feel like I've missed in this "prime"?
When I was 15, I was expecting future me to be married by 25. I was dating an older boyfriend who did eventually marry in that time frame, just without my involvement. I had thought, at 15, that by the age that I am now I'd have kid(s), some sort of Adult Job, emotional stability and some sense of knowing what the fuck I'm doing.
I don't have any substantial amount of any of those things, and I'm years past that deadline. Am I missing out? 15 year old me would think so.
At 15, once again with that previously mentioned hindsight, I was also about to enter one of the most difficult and depressed years of my life. I craved the possibilities of a future where I didn't feel the daily pains and endless emptiness that plagued my life at that point. I bought into what media and my conservative and Chr*stian environment was selling as the best version for my 20s as an escape from the terrible reality I was in with the childish expectation that everyone else wanted that for the same reasons that I did.
Now, at the end of of what I thought would be the most idyllic period of my life, I can't say that I've fulfilled any of the 15 year old me's expectations for my 20s. I can't even say that I need any of those expectations anymore, which makes them even easier to let go of.
The idea of your 20s being the happiest time of your life should be completely discarded from our collective hivemind, alongside other outdated turn of the century ideas like houses being affordable and the existence of a singular LGBTQ+ individual in a straight cis friend group.