Okay, here’s the truth – a quarter of the truth, at least. Because I’ve recently hit the Quarter Life Milestone – 25.

Truth is, since turning 25 I’ve been a bit obsessed with being 25, and not in a good way. In the way of poring over articles that read “25 things you should be doing when you’re 25”, and so forth. I have a strong suspicion that there are 2 reasons behind my behaviour – 1) I don’t feel ready to be 25 because I don’t have my shit together and I’m turning 30 way too soon, and 2) I spend too much time procrastinating because I have a thesis I should be completing. I’ll probably freak out more when I accept that I’ll most likely never make it to 100, meaning I’m more than a quarter done with my life on Earth. C’est la vie.

When we get down to brass tax, turning 25 is scary because things get very real, very fast. Previously abstract and foggy concepts such as marriage, career, family, how the hell do I clean an oven, suddenly come into very sharp focus. You’re left taking stock of new things, with a new focus on new things, and you are once again welcomed back to reality with a smirk.

I read a few articles listing things you don’t need to have figured out by the time you turn 25 (this one by Bustle and this one by DesignTaxi). Honestly – fuck that. Most of those things I’ve already done or don’t care enough to have a hang up over – yes, my parents still pay my R200/month cellphone plan and I have no intention of changing it. Finding yourself on a solo trip? I did that before I turned 18. My flat is too shitty for too much money (I’ve seen cockroaches enter through the front door) and I pretty much know “my type” for everything from clothes to my career to my style of cooking (which is none). None of these articles made me feel any better because apparently, I don’t worry about things like “should my dwelling be more Instagram-y”.

Then, of course, there are the lists telling you what you should be doing at this age – stop caring what other people think (you should have done that when you finished high school), “start dating guys who are worth your time” (why the hell would you ever do the opposite??), and “proudly show who you really are” (boldly assuming you actually know who you really are).

To make a long story short, none of these articles succeeded in their aim to make me feel better about feeling shitty over turning 25. I’m still wrestling with questions such as “shit, should I have been married by now” and “why did I spend so much money on shoes, now I can’t buy hair conditioner this month”.

This is the time when you need to stop taking things one day at a time. You can’t “figure it out as you go along” anymore. “Winging it” suddenly doesn’t cut it anymore. No more pretending you’re young – you’re on the fast track to 30 and you better start getting your shit together. Wrestle through the tough stuff – don’t know what to look for in a potential partner? Figure it out, and fast because you don’t have that much time left. Don’t have any savings? Best take a good look at why not, and change it. Always wanted to get a degree? Do it now.

Because no, you can’t go on like you’re used to. Otherwise, you’ll turn into a full-on adult who never did the things they wanted to when they were 25 and now yells at their dog because they failed in life. This is the tipping point where you can’t put things off anymore. This is where it gets real.

It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. Just embrace the change and for the love of God don’t blink, or you’ll turn 30.