~3 min read
This past Canada Day, I turned the ripe age of 27. For a lot of reasons, this birthday was different than any other.
It wasn’t the first time I celebrated my birthday away from home. I spent my 22nd birthday in Calabria, Italy with extended family. I felt a lot of love that day. It was my first time visiting Italy which meant that it would also be my first time meeting many of my relatives. That didn’t stop them from throwing me a birthday party on “Canada Day” and making an evening of it. My cousins Luigi and Emilio even baked me a decked out A.C. Milan (my favourite soccer club) birthday cake!
5 years later, and I am celebrating my 27th birthday in Vancouver with my best friend from Toronto who came to visit and my mentor who was coaching some Freestyle skiers in Whistler the week prior. It was really cool to celebrate with some familiar faces which (of course) turned out to be an epic time.
It’s been a month and 27 is starting to feel like reality. After saying “I’m 27” a seemingly endless amount of times this month, with many followed up by “you’re getting old, huh!”, it’s starting to fit on me. The thought of getting old, meh, not quite. I certainly don’t feel older. But I do feel a slightly heightened sense of responsibility.
They say age is just a number, and I do believe that’s true. 27 is just a number; but it represented something more for me.
My cousin Vinny passed away in a motorcycle accident at 27. I was 14. At the time, he was two weeks away from starting his career as a physical education teacher. He died a block away from the school. We were both at turning points in our life. I was becoming a young man while he was becoming a school teacher. I looked up to him and wanted to be just like him when I grew up.
That’s the thing. Hitting 27 was my reference point for growing up. Whether right or wrong, that was my reference point. That was my “ideal” and what I strived for. In my mind, it represented a turning point of maturity and becoming an adult.
Now that I’m older, I realize how the experiences I’ve had as a young person can leave a lasting impact on your life and world-views. In many ways, my cousin embodied plenty of qualities and characteristics that I would later hold.
Truth be told, I didn’t know at the time that my cousin had a degree in Kinesiology and was going to be a Phys-ed teacher. It wasn’t until I was going into my third year of Kinesiology that I came to learn these details from his sister who I’d lost touch with.
Just think about that for a second. 7 years later, I’m learning that my cousin studied the same thing I’m studying. I found this out 2 weeks after getting a tattoo in his memory, “forever young” between angel wings. That was 6 years ago now. The meaning in the text of my tattoo seems to have new depth and relevancy as I come of age.
Life is remarkable.
While we all look ahead and devise a plan for our life, there is a point where you catch up with where you want to go. This might only happen a few times in your life, since we are continually re-adjusting our plans and taking aim at a new target. Eventually, you’ll hit it.
You got where you wanted to go.
I’ve come around to being 27. In many ways, it really is a turning point in my life. The added sense of responsibility I feel comes with the reality that I am who I wanted to become. I’m equally proud and humbled. This sense of responsibility means that it is time to take aim again.
What am I aiming towards? A life worth living. Not everyone has the chance to become the person they want to be and realize their potential.
Enjoy it. Be grateful for your chance.
Going through a turning point in your life? Comment and share your story.
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