A couple of days ago I turned 26. Unlike previous birthdays, 26 seems to have grabbed me as a major milestone. The jump from 25 to 26 seems much larger than the one digit increase would have you believe.
Part of this may be my current situation, and partly as I am now on the wrong side of 20, and approaching 30 fast! Something Jon said to me a couple of weeks ago has festered in my mind the last couple of days. He said that we grow up most between the ages of 16 and 26. When I look back at all I have learnt, accomplished and gained during this time, I can see why.
Respect for My Family
My relationship with my brother is one that should last my entire life, and how this has changed is a reflection of how much we have both grown up in the last 10 years.
For much of my life I have lived under the same roof as him, shared the same journeys to the same schools, ate the same meals, and shared in the same experiences every young family has. Now of course, this set-up is totally different, and is likely to remain so.
My brother now lives in London, whilst I am soon to depart for life in another country. The gap that has grown between us physically, has actually meant we are now much closer on a personal level. We now can talk to each other, have sensible conversations, give each other advice, and respect each others opinions. Given we used to fight (or more precisely, I got sat on a lot) is pretty cool, and I feel privileged to have a sibling, and it’s worth remembering that not everyone does.
The relationship with my parents may also have matured, but of course in years to come that will change considerably too, and the roles likely to be reversed. I’m not sure it has changed a great deal however over this period.
Had I not moved when I was 12, I may have been able to say this much earlier, but I can now lay claim to friendships that have lasted for 10 years or more, and many which have lasted at least half that time too. I will continue to meet new people, and make new friends, but they will be added to a nucleus of great friends I already have. Unlike when I was 16, I can now list 4 or 5 people who I could talk to about anything (and vice-versa). What a great asset to have in ones life.
Knowledge and Responsibilities
There is of course a long list of things I am able to do now which I couldn’t when I was 16. I can drive, vote, drink etc. I have discovered a trade, earned the qualifications, and begun gaining experience of how to succeed in it. I have travelled around the world, and have a greater understanding of my responsibilities to it.
But as I list these skills, it is telling that I feel still I have so much more to learn. Unlike when you are 16, I tend to think that the older you get, the more you realise how much you don’t actually know.
I could be a better driver, I could learn more about politics and about how the world works. My trade revolves around such an organic, ever evolving industry, that to stop learning is to become irrelevant. Being a designer first and foremost, hopefully gives me some longevity, but again, this is only guaranteed if you have a desire to continue learning. How I organise myself, manage time and interact with other people… there is still a lot of experience to be gained.
In essence, I guess the last 10 years have been about laying a solid foundation for the future. That future is now.