THE BLOG
09/12/2014 02:43 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2014

The Truth About Getting Older

Jordan Siemens via Getty Images

It's hard to believe that the last time I took part in back-to-school festivities was five years ago. Yeah, that's right. FIVE YEARS AGO. It feels like yesterday I was at my high school's five year reunion, and now all of a sudden my college's five year reunion is only one year away.

It's like, when did this happen? When did I become so old? Well, I guess I shouldn't say old... but when did I leave my early 20s? When did I get closer in age to 30 than to 20? Wasn't it just yesterday that I qualified as a "recent grad?" Seriously guys, when did this happen?

It wasn't until recently that I realized I was no longer the awkward recent grad in the office who complained about all the "older" people at work constantly talking about weddings and babies, and instead I am now one of those older co-workers who graduated years ago and talks a whole lot about weddings.

I used to feel like I didn't have much to talk about with people in the workplace without coming off as an immature disaster. This was when I had just graduated from college and cared more about how many shots I was going to take over the weekend than the actual work I had to do for... work. I shuddered when I heard nearby co-workers talk about "weddings" and "babies," and I certainly didn't know how to respond to the news of someone being engaged, as not one engagement announcement had yet crawled along my Facebook newsfeed. So I kept to myself until, of course, I became one of them.

I no longer feel out of place in the office. I am no longer the baby at work, the bar or even on my Facebook newsfeed. I mean, people my age are having babies... legit babies... by choice. Those are the types of things taking up my newsfeed now. No neon-clad party-goers because, to be honest, are the kids even partying in neon anymore?

I'm going to be 26 this month and I can't even describe how much older I feel than I did a year ago, when I was about to turn 25. The second half of your 20s is basically life-changing. And really, really odd.

It's like OK, I just partied my way up to age 26 and now all these people are getting married and getting preggers. Should I join in on this marathon sprint too? I swear. I started edging towards age 26 and all of a sudden I felt like everyone around me suddenly started to turn a new leaf. People were starting to stay in more and more. And I, too, began to prefer staying in instead of going out. Dancing in a crowded dive bar? NO THANKS. I'll take the couch and a bottle of pinot and NO COMPANY because I HATE SOCIALIZING. Thanks.

In addition to becoming more and more boring with every second that goes by, 20-somethings who are post-25 for some reason become LIFE SPEED DEMONS. It feels like just yesterday so many people were blackout on dance floors making out with randoms, and now they're engaged/longing to be engaged/married/pregnant/boring/etc. It feels like just yesterday party-city was the norm, and now all of a sudden all of these people have drastically changed? For some people, fine. But the rest, I don't believe it.

When you hit age 26, you get this sudden realization that oh, sh*t -- you're twenty-f*cking-six. You have FOUR years left in you 20s. FOUR YEARS until you're 30. This freaks people out because for some reason, people seem to associate being 30 with being a married adult who has kids and lives in the suburbs. So people quickly sober up and begin this epic rush to become adults with real lives -- and you have to question if things just fall into place for all these people who transform into real, live adults in 2-4 years, or if they're just going through the motions because society basically said to do so during these years.

Sure, a lot can change in four years. Four years was the duration of high school. Four years was the duration of college. Four years was more than the amount of time it took Kim Kardashian to meet, marry and divorce Kris Humphries and then get married to and have a child with Kanye West (obviously not in that order, at all, but you get the point). So OK... maybe it is possible for wild 20-somethings everywhere to quickly sober up and become adults with real lives in just a couple of years in their late 20s, but it sure is hard to tell what's real and what's not.

It's becoming very clear to me that life lately has just been about being anxious for next steps. No one ever lives in the moment anymore. But we should.

Getting older isn't easy, but it also doesn't have to be this hard. And it doesn't have to be forced. This is a call to my fellow 20-somethings to start living in the moment. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop trying to stick to some ridiculous life timeline you formed when you were 16. Everything happens for a reason and eventually everything will work out as planned.

We're in our 20s. It's OK to be single. It's OK to be engaged. It's OK to black out on occasion and throw up in your dresser drawers (oh it's not? sorry). LIVE FOR YOURSELF. Figure out what you want. Find out who you really are. Don't force anything or make choices based on what other people are doing. It's just LIFE. Don't feel like you have to abide by a timeline. DO YOU. What's the rush?

This post originally appeared on Forever Twenty Somethings.