So, it’s your birthday. You’re 26 today. Congratulations.
What, you wanted more? Sorry, dude. This isn’t a milestone. You can already smoke (didn’t want to anyway), can already drink (didn’t want to anyway), can already rent a car without paying a premium, and already had your insurance rates reduced (25 = lame). No new perks, plus now you’re closer to 30 than 20. Scary, huh?
Here’s the thing: I know what you wanted. You wanted to be an established author. Heck, you wanted that for your 18th birthday. And your 20th. And pretty much every birthday since you wrote that terrible synopsis and 15 pages for the Scholastic “first novel” competition in high school. You wanted to be the Taylor Swift of books.
But you’re not. Do you want to know why? Because you weren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
Now before you run off to a corner to cry, listen: I don’t say that to be mean. I don’t say that to belittle or discourage you. You do work hard. You are talented. You will make it.
But Taylor Swift? She’s one in a million. She put music before everything. She gave up a normal life in order to pursue her dream. You didn’t.
And that’s okay. It’s okay that you went to high school, and worried about grades, and got a college degree, and then a job. It’s okay that you watch a few TV shows, and have a boyfriend and a dog, and take time to travel. It’s okay that sometimes you do the laundry when you’re stuck on a sentence, or that you get nervous/embarrassed when people ask what you do and you have to explain that you’re an unpublished, unagented writer. It’s okay that you like to nap.
Because here’s what this birthday DOES mean:
It means that, at 26, you’ve been writing seriously for almost a decade. In that time, you “finished” your first ever novel (which needs a lot of revision). You experimented with a web series that nearly got published and is now available as an ebook. And soon you’ll be querying your first YA manuscript, which is definitely the best thing you’ve ever written. You’ve been blogging for several years, have made many good online friends, and even went viral once. You’ve gotten work experience, life experience, love experience. You’ve done things on your own terms, and you won’t have any regrets.
(Not that T Swizzle regrets her choices. I’m sure she’s quite happy with her sparkly clothes, bajillion awards, and famous, fodder-for-lyrics boyfriends.)
Rarely do things work out so neatly as JK Rowling’s 1-story-per-school-year structure, but I do feel like each November since middle school, you’ve managed to reflect and to learn something important. If there’s anything I want you to learn from this, your 26th year, it’s to throw your plans out the window. Don’t try to predict what will happen, or put your life on a schedule. Just work hard, have fun, and be kind. If you do that, everything will follow in its own way and its own time.