I turned 24 yesterday. I don’t think 24 is a major milestone for most people, but for whatever reason I’ve grown up thinking that this would be a benchmark age for me. Let me explain.
When I was younger I used to begrudgingly go to church with my parents every Sunday. As any Christian child knows, Sunday school and youth group are essential facets of the teenage religious experience. You’re put in a room with a young-ish pastor who is meant to be hip and relatable, and each week his job is to convince kids who are starting to think critically that Christianity is still a viable life option. That wasn’t meant to sound sassy; I have the utmost respect for anyone who deals with young people, because in order to do it well you really, truly have to be passionate about what you’re doing. It’s a tough crowd.
Anyways, at one of the churches I attended my youth pastor was named Mike or something equally generic, but Mike will do for the sake of this story. He was a pretty wonderful guy from what I remember. He had this innate talent where he could be telling us about the Ten Commandments or some other Bible story we’d all heard a million times and yet every one of us would think the lesson was cool, because Mike was cool.
Mike was 24.
I’m not going to say I idolized Mike, because young me was in the process of rejecting my religious upbringing and therefore held minor resentment toward those who were trying to keep me walking the Christian line. What I will say is that Mike had his shit together, and even at that age I realized that having my shit together was something I eventually wanted. Twenty-four-year-old Mike was engaged. He had steady employment and it looked like he was slowly making his way up the pastor chain. He was attractive, affable, and appeared as though nothing was going to stop him from being a successful, well-rounded adult man.
Learning from Mike’s example, I decided that 24 was the age when I’d have my entire life in order. I’d be engaged (or at least moving in that direction), I’d have a career, I’d be the kind of guy that other guys see and say, “Whoa, look at that guy.” I’d be Mike.
Now that I’m actually 24 I see how ridiculous that was. Surely I’m moving in the direction of a lot of those goals I assumed I’d have reached by now, but I can’t even imagine a world in which I’m preparing to marry someone or am locked into a long-term career. I’ve got tons of learning to do before I can do any of those things effectively. So maybe 24 isn’t the age of getting it together, but instead it’s the age of realizing that I’m almost there and I need to keep my nose to the grindstone to arrive at my destination. Better yet, maybe it’s the age of figuring out that age is just a number and this isn’t a race and I can’t place my life trajectory against that of Mike’s and say that I’ve failed or succeeded.
I’m 24 and I’m exactly where I want to be.
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- j-zach1122 said:Happy birthday Darren, you’re an amazing young man.
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