“28 is freaking me out.”
So said a friend of mine a week after her 28th birthday. She was feeling low, anxious, and lost.
She did everything right; went to the GP to get a mental health plan and spoke to a professional. When she told me what was on her mind, she felt silly. “28 isn’t old, I know… but I suddenly feel anxious.”
As a wise 27-year-old, I told her not to worry, because she was still young, glowing and carefree, like the girls in a tampon ad. Helpful.
Listen: Millennial Jessie Stephens has some ideas as to why millennials are so damn anxious, being one herself. Post continues after audio.
And then another friend turned 28. And the same discussion ensued. Anxiety, mild depression, existential crises. With a good dose of guilt and silliness on the top. And then another friend. And then another.
And then me.
I turned 28, and it passed with joyous but minimal ceremony, as do most birthdays from 21+ for a digit not ending with zero. Within a few weeks though, a thought crept in to my head: by my age, my Mum was married and caring for a baby, with another arriving soon-ish. By 28, some people have become millionaires. Or surgeons. Or retired from tennis careers.
And I still hadn’t figured out how to fold a fitted sheet.
Suddenly, I got it. That your late-twenties can bring all kinds of anxiety to do with your future, your impact on the world, the decisions you’ve already made, and those you’ve yet to make.