I rushed home from work at 4 p.m. in order to cram in some exercise before having to go to class at 6. It is not foreign to me — having to precisely time my evening in order to accommodate both my wants and needs. I want to exercise, shower, and make dinner before I need to go to class, so at 4 o’clock, I stormed out the door in order to make it happen.
I pulled up to the practice track in City Park to run my sprints, the surest and fastest form of cardio that I know. Unbeknownst to me, Jesuit and Cabrini high schools were also using the track to practice for cross country or some other team sport.
As I laced up my shoes, the high-school kids ran past me, as their coaches’ whistles intermittently blew in the distance. I was slightly perturbed to have the solitude of my track, which I have enjoyed all summer, taken from me — particularly while in a hurry.
As I ran my warm-up lap, I noticed a brightness in the faces of the kids I passed. It seems like just yesterday I was pulling up to North Shore High School to embark on what I’d thought were supposed to be the greatest years of my life. Had the greatest years really already passed me by?
I’m 25 now, with a degree in finance, a full-time job, and barely four months between myself and my graduate degree. I had a blast in college. I’ve had a blast since college. The best years of my life certainly could not have been high school.
The expediency with which today so quickly turned into yesterday and tomorrow abruptly turned into today overwhelmed me. I’ve heard it a thousand times before, and I’m sure you have as well.
An older gentleman at the post office, an older lady at a coffee shop, a grandparent — all admiring their youth with longing eyes of yesteryear before they tell you in their voices of experience, wisdom, and some regret: “Before you know it, you’ll be my age.”
Life passes you by so quickly. You blink, and it’s all behind you. I know it’s true.
I think about my grandparents — late 80s, with six children, umpteen grandchildren — and how they must be so proud of the family they are responsible for, all the lives they brought into this world. We are all exponents of those gray-haired folks. We briskly pass them by, en route to our next appointment, our next date, our next great endeavor. Fortunately, if we’re lucky enough, one day we, too, will be blessed with the chance to walk slowly through the streets, shaking our heads at the energetic youth drifting past us. Unfortunately, that day may arrive much sooner than we realize or anticipate.
At 25, I feel as though the world is my oyster, ripe for the harvest. A 25, I feel as though my entire life is ahead of me, and, God willing, it is.
However, I also feel, at 25, that I am nowhere near where I want to be. I have had similar careers (if you can even call them that) since graduating college more than three years ago — stuck behind a desk, crunching numbers, pushing paper, making a corporate machine a substantial profit from a ridiculous billing rate, relative to a mediocre wage.
Do not misconstrue my lack of vocational enthusiasm for a lack of appreciation. I am thankful to be employed. However, this is not what I want to do with my life. I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk with the window at my back — trapped inside, working for the man.
Part of me wishes I were content with such a career. I want to get married, have multiple children, and provide for them the life my parents worked hard to give my sisters and myself. I am not sure if pursuing any of the things I love will be able to satisfy the financial requirements necessary for raising a family.
I love to write, cook, exercise, garden, compose songs, and play guitar. I’m not particularly adept enough at any of those skills to secure a competitive advantage in their respective marketplaces. At least not enough to build an independent business within any of those fields. I guess my business degree may have taught me something practical in the real world.
There are a multitude of other wants and wishes coursing through my veins — each one bursting through my arteries, flushing deep into my heart — where my desires seem to be stuck in limbo, waiting for my mind to connect with them. These wants dwell, stagnant in my heart, like prisoners on death row, waiting for either execution or exoneration. They plead for their pardon, to be released into the wild once again, to blossom under the sunlight. Flee the fluorescent light.
At 25, my thoughts are both heavy and light. If I’m careful, I can let my desires slip away and find satisfaction in the mundane daily grind. I can live for the evenings and weekends, of course.
But forget being careful; I’m 25, and the world is my oyster.