I’m turning 25 in three days.
I guess in the grand scheme of things, being halfway through my 20s is really not that big of a deal. But it feels huge. Significant. It feels like I’m leaving the first half of my 20s behind. It feels like I actually may have to start being a real adult soon.
If I had known how quickly the past five years were going to go, and where life was going to take me, I would have done so many things differently. I probably would have done the Disney College Program during my junior or senior year; maybe I would have done a second one after graduation. I would have accepted the fact that I was not where I wanted to be at 21, 22, 23. 24 was the first birthday where I said to myself, “yes, I’m doing what I want.” And where was I? Doing the Disney College program. Living, learning, and earning in Orlando, FL.
If you told me five years ago that I would be where I am today, I don’t know if I’d have believed it.
At 20, I was in the process of changing my major from Secondary Education English to English Literature. I was dating a guy who I thought could be the one (we broke up about six months later). I was partying and going out and having fun, not putting nearly enough effort into school. I cared more about a social life and the image I projected to others than I did about anything else.
At 21, I decided I was done partying, and I “settled down” into an adult relationship that, for three and a half years, took me on some of the greatest adventures I’ve ever had. I changed my major again, from English Lit to English Writing, a decision I don’t regret. I juggled school and, that year, three different on-campus jobs. I was taking creative writing classes, hopeful that someday I’d write that “one great thing” that could get published. Thinking back on it, 21 may have been the peak of my undergrad.
At 22, I burned out. I ended up tacking an extra semester onto my college career. My last two semesters of college were, in some ways, about the worst I’d ever had. I wanted nothing to do with anyone or anything. I realized that, by nature, I’m an introvert. I struggled with my weight and my health and my overall image. I took pleasure in brooding and bitching about everything. And, as I watched two good friends head off to the DCP, I was kicking myself for not taking the opportunity earlier in my college career.
At 23, I was a college graduate. I was applying for my first round of Disney Internships (and getting rejected). I applied for grad school, something I never thought I’d actually do, and got accepted for the following Fall. My dream was fully formed: I would work for the Walt Disney Company, somehow, some way. And later that year, my dream came true. I was accepted to the DCP halfway through my 23rd year.
And at 24, I was on my Disney College Program. On my 24th birthday, I ran around to all four parks and Downtown Disney in one day. I was living my dream, and nothing was bringing me down. I was in my happy place, doing great things with great people.
Overall, my 24th year has been full of ups and downs. I got to work my dream job for six months. I made some of the most incredible friends I’ve ever met. I ended a long term relationship. I have taken six months to finally do some self-searching in the world of being single, and it’s been a heck of an adventure. I’m still struggling with my overall health, but I’m taking the necessary steps to get better.
I’ve completed three semesters of grad school to date, with one summer class and two more semesters ahead of me. I’ll be spending the next year working to attain my ultimate dream: to move to Florida and get back to working for Disney.
So where will I be one year from now, at 26? If all goes according to plan, I’ll be just about done with my master’s degree. I’ll be applying for (and maybe will have heard back about) Disney Internships and jobs. And with some faith, trust, and pixie dust, I’ll be one step closer to exactly where I want to be.
If you asked me when I was 20 where I thought I’d be at 25, I’d have probably said “maybe married, with a full-time job, living on my own.” Well, at 25 I am none of those things — I’m ridiculously single, I only work part time (though grad school feels like a full-time job), and I’m still living at home. But at this moment, I wouldn’t change much at all. I like where I’m at. I love my job and I love school. But I think 25 is going to be the year of getting ahead. I’m going to spend this year becoming the best version of myself so that at 26 I can be ready for the big changes that are to come after I graduate.
I’m still shunning the idea of growing up and being an actual adult, but I think I’ve figured out a way to balance that “never grow up” feeling with the tasks I have ahead.
And what am I doing for my 25th birthday, you ask?
Going to see “Cinderella.” 🙂