Newsletter editor Lily here.

Around this time every year, I realize that my birthday is three short months away. It feels like it creeps up on me; the holidays pass and I look at my calendar for the winter and spring and—BOOM!—there it is in April.

Birthdays start to get weirder over the years. I don’t know about you, but practically all of my friends have some age in their heads where they thought they’d have it all together or that they’d be a “true adult.” My roommate, for instance, had a little bit of an existential crisis on her 26th birthday last summer, because 26 was that age for her in her head all of these years. We ended up drinking many a spicy marg and sharing a basket of fries to commiserate.

For me, it’s always been age 27, and knowing that I will in fact be 27 in 15 short months gets stranger and stranger.

I’m not sure at what point I looked at 27 as my equivalent of Jennifer Garner’s “thirty, flirty, thriving” speech in 13 Going On 30, but I think it was at some point in high school. I was probably crying over friend drama or some unrequited crush, and I remember thinking to myself, “At what age will I have this all figured out?” For whatever reason, 27 popped into my head. I don’t even know what I meant by “having this all figured out”; it probably had to do with feeling like I had close friends and a boyfriend. By college, the idea of being 27 was also synonymous with a stable and successful career and lots of other things. “Don’t worry!” I’d say to myself when I got a bad grade on an exam or into a fight with a housemate. “This will all be fine by 27!”

I’d hate to break it to my younger self, but getting into the back half of your twenties doesn’t mean sudden clarity; if anything, it means more mess. Some things have worked out better than expected, like having a wonderful group of girlfriends. Other aspects of my life, like my career and a romantic partner, are far more complicated.

But hey, for all I know 26 will be some sort of banner year. Only time can tell. What I’m trying to do in the meantime, however, is take the pressure of myself to feel like I have to be the most put-together version of myself in 15 months. Maybe 27 will just be a benchmark. Maybe it’ll be another birthday. We’ll see. Anyone else have a year like that they put in their heads at a young age?

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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