Today I am officially closer to 30 than 20. Thirty-year-old guys aren’t too old. In fact, not only are they a good age for a possible significant other, they are basically my peers. I’m almost old enough to be my high school students’ mom and could feasibly be my junior high students’ mother. I’ve seen Internet in my backwoods, childhood stomping ground of Vermont transform from nonexistent, to dial-up with the nightmare beeping, to wifi so fast I can stream movies. I remember when landlines were the only way to invite my friends over for dinner.

I’ve lived in 3 countries and 5 cities. I’ve worked 8 different jobs and 6 internships. I graduated high school and college and then got a job using my degree. I then left that job for Peace Corps Paraguay. In Paraguay, I’ve taught leadership, identifying abilities, goal setting, sex education, and other things related to self-esteem to grades 8-12.

Birthdays are pensive times for me. Not because I’m scared about getting old. I’m more curious than fearful of what I will look like with gray hair, wrinkles, and a schedule filled with doctors appointments. I hope my health weathers the years and that there are not too many doctors appointments. Mostly, my birthdays are a time of reflection because they are logical milestones in life.

I am 26. My toddler self thought I’d be an Indian princess by now. My childhood self believed I’d be a famous dancer or musician. My high school self imagined I’d be a published writer, fluent speaker of many languages, and world traveler. My college self planned I’d be a ballin’ public relations expert, to great to fall, who was married and traveled to awesome places on vacation. My post-college self assumed I’d be a powerhouse for change and a person with a irresistible personality.

Now I know, and I would hesitate to say I am any of those things. At 26 I feel old. I also realize that old isn’t bad and is relative. I’m still a spring chicken compared to some and prehistoric in the eyes of others. Twenty-six is the beginning and end of a chapter, so starts my “post early twenties.”

I used to dream of who I would be. I set goals for my future self, someone who was better than my current self. But, today, I don’t dream of being someone different by next October or any future October. I expect that every October from here on out I will be Jett, nothing less and nothing more, and I am thrilled at such a prospect.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plans. I’m a dreamer and a plotter, and I am not scared of working hard to get to where I think I should be. But, honestly, so far I have never been where I thought I’d be. And, despite the disparity between what I thought and reality, life has been stellar. My 26-year-old wisdom tells me that in the end it’s not the grand title and spectacle of who I am come each October 2nd that is important. What matters is every moment between, all the small presents that come from living life to the max. And so, for year 27 my main mission is simply to seize every moment as an opportunity. I don’t want to worry about what I didn’t do when I remember; I want to smile because of what transpired.