My brother Ryan tells me I “think about timelines too much.” OK, Ryan. Maybe that’s true — or at least it used to be.
You see, I grew up with two very loving parents. They met in first grade or something. My parents will argue this point forever: My dad says he met, and subsequently fell in love with, my mom in first grade. My mom says they didn’t actually meet until later, in elementary school.
Regardless, they started dating in high school, went to prom together and then parted ways for separate colleges a few hours apart. According to my dad, he would hitchhike on the weekends to visit my mom (that seems a little dangerous, Dad). After college, they were still all in love and one night, after the Philadelphia Eagles did something impressive (like won a game — I don’t know, I’m not a great listener sometimes), my dad called my mom and proposed.
Yes, he proposed over the phone.
And she said yes.
They were married at 23, had my brother at 25 and had their lives forever changed when, at 27, they had me, the true love of their lives.
This was the example that was set for me growing up.
Fall in love at age 7.
Get married at 23.
Be knocked up around 25 (just typing that gives me anxiety).
Do it again at 27.
Live happily ever after.
It worked for my parents, so growing up I assumed my life would somehow follow suit.
Yesterday was my 27th birthday.
So am I where I one day thought I’d be at 27?
Oh hell no.
But this place is so much better.
Sorry, Mom and Dad. I’m going to go ahead and blaze my own path — my own timeline — OK?
If I had done what my parents did, the means I would have married the boy I had a crush on in first grade, and that would be a boy named JJ. I’m not positive, but I think he went to jail or something. A few times. So that never would have worked out.
At 23, JJ and I would be settling down together. Instead, at 23 I was navigating the professional world in New York City at my first “real” job. I was dating a guy who was much older than I was. It didn’t work out. Thank goodness.
At 25, instead of having a baby (OMG gross, so not ready for baby puke and diapers and letting a human feed off my boobs), I was spending most of my free time in Central Park and on the West Side Highway learning to love running. I was living with a kickass roommate (who ran a half marathon PR this weekend, no big deal) and I created Ali On The Run so I could be even more obsessed with running. I dated a different guy during this time, and I’m pretty psyched that didn’t work out either. Yikes. Dodged a bullet there.
And now, here I am at 27.
While I don’t have many material possessions — I don’t own a home, or even a small apartment, and I definitely don’t have a car or know what I’d do with a “down payment” on something — I do feel like I’m in a pretty solid place at 27.
Each year in my 20s has been better than the one before, and they’ve all been great. Now, I’m technically entering my late 20s, and I think I like it.
I may not own a home, but I just moved into a new apartment that I really like…with a roommate I’m kind of into, too.
I have a solid job that I got all on my own. I landed my internship at Dance Spirit in college by calling someone in the sales department (oops), asking if the company offered internships, and then applying, getting an interview and getting hired.
I worked my butt off as an intern, and then after graduation I got a call from the company’s vice president that they created a new position and wanted to hire me to fill it. From there, I continued to work hard — all while commuting three hours each way from Connecticut (stupid move, but whatever) — and earned several promotions along the way, eventually leading me to my current position as Deputy Editor in Chief. Hard work pays off.
I keep myself busy doing things I love, and despite some recent injury-and-health-related setbacks, I’m confident I’ll figure this running and marathoning thing out eventually.
At 27, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that not all friends are lifetime friends, and that you can — and will — continue to make lifelong friends into your 20s. The people you meet in high school and college aren’t the only ones you’ll ever meet. It’s OK if you drift apart from some, grow even closer with others or detach yourself entirely from your past. Whatever makes you happy.
Right now, I have two close friends from home, a bunch from college and a ton more from my post-college years, that I’ve met through running, blogging, work and mutual friends. I cherish these friendships so much, whether they’re new or old, and I don’t really care where or when I meet people.
If a person is stressing you out too much or making you unhappy all the time, it’s OK to dismiss the friendship. I’ve begun surrounding myself with people who understand me, support me and make me happy, and cultivating those relationships is fun and rewarding.
Perhaps the most important relationship to me right now is the one I have with Brian. I never expected to meet him, but the first night we went out, I knew he was different. Probably because he was cool with me wearing compression socks to the bar. I’m so happy living with him and I laugh more than ever before. He keeps me sane, tones down my inner crazies and is wicked fun. Also he’s handy in the kitchen.
I’m trying pretty hard not to mess this one up.
In 27 years, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve had my share of successes. I’ve also made plenty of mistakes, and that’s OK. My life is far from perfect (clearly — I share my psychotic and irrational thoughts with you daily, so you’re aware of that), but it’s in the imperfections that I get a chance to grow and learn and figure out who I am and who I want to be. (I know, this is getting deep. So many thoughts. So much brain activity.)
I’ve reached the age at which my parents were done doing all the big stuff — the proposal, the wedding, the births, the first home purchase and a big move from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire — so I guess you could say I’m not at all where I thought I’d be at 27.
But I’m going to stay here for a while.
I think it suits me.