Ladies and gentlemen this is a momentous moment in my life.
This weekend I officially entered my….gulp…late twenties.
I’m not entirely sure how or when this happened. I still feel a lot like I did when I was 22 apart from the fact that it’s become less and less easy to shrug off the fact that actually I’m hurtling towards middle age at break neck speed and will at some point have to you know like umm grow up and stuff HAHAAHAHAHAH (manic laugh).
I’m dealing with it well I think.
Seriously though this is the first birthday that has made me feel a bit bleurgh. Usually I have uncontrollable enthusiasm for what I like to call ‘ME ME ME Week’ and am liable to extend my birthday by as many days as possible. Let’s face it birthdays are just an excuse to treat yo’self to as much cake, booze and unnecessary items from H&M as possible (hello 23rd birthday feather collar – how I both loved and never wore you in equal measure!). Plus you can get absolutely rat faced and behave like a twerp and no one can say anything to you apart from ‘well that’s what your birthday is for isn’t it…’
Take last year’s birthday for example where I decided acceptable behaviour included violently unpoppering one of my oldest and dearest friends skirts whilst shouting ‘VOILA’ in the middle of a pub. Or the year before when I let a boy I had just started dating take me somewhere way too fancy, got steaming drunk and got pizza all over the birthday presents he definitely did not have to buy me before sulking in a drunken rage about nothing. Or the year before that where I shouted ‘it’s my birthday BITCHES’ and then did a little sick into my lap.
Isn’t reminiscing fun.
What’s unavoidable about this birthday however is that I am definitely on the older end of the spectrum. As in…I maybe wouldn’t be eligible for the under’s group on Xfactor and would have to go into the old people group and be styled in some voluminous black tent like dress and bouffant curls rather than neon leggings and a crop top and they’d make me sing age appropriate power ballads every week
Apparently my grand old ages means that I’m officially an adult. Which is weird because when I pictured being an adult I imagined…oh I don’t know… like just some casual stuff that I feel really casual about like A HUSBAND HOUSE MONEY GLITTERING CAREER AND KIDS.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA sooooooo casual.
Who knows what it means to be an adult in our millennial age (omg guys check out how highbrow I am). We’re all doing things later, and times have changed since we were all expected to pop out a baby or five before the age of 30 (thank god.)
So I enlisted the help of an extremely well respected, analytical organisation* to find out if I have finally become an adult. Here’s what I found:
*It was Buzzfeed ok. I read a Buzzfeed.
1) You have spent what seemed like years of your life assembling crappy Ikea furniture.
Ah Ikea. Merrily destroying relationships since way back when. Want to know if your friendship is as deep as you think? Ask your pal to help you put together a Billy Bookcase. Tis the process that truly seperates the wheat from the chaff.
I once had the not very merry task of building a giant headboard in a room roughly the size of a postage stamp with the help of my dear friend B.
To give us our credit we kept our cool but the entire afternoon was littered with these kind of passive aggressive exchanges.
Me: HAHA (tense laugh) I don’t think that goes there B
B: HAHAHA I think it does
Me: No… I’m pretty sure if you even HAHA gave the instructions a cursory glance you’d see that it doesn’t belong there
B: HAHAAHAH gosh well perhaps you might like to suggest where you think it might go and when you’ve got a constructive suggestion we can move forward
B and I have been friends for 100 years. She is my partner in crime, my honorary sister and no amount of IKEA furniture can tear us asunder. But I tell you something, I think if either of us thought we could have knocked the other one out with a plank of the HYBREIGE headboard and they wouldn’t remember it later we would have.
It’s a necessary evil in the road to adulthood necessitated by shit rented flats and empty bank accounts. Sure we can all dream of the day that we wander into some plush furniture shop, point at a beautiful, assembled sofa and say ‘that one please and yes I’ll take the delivery service but don’t worry about bringing it upstairs, my very strong husband shall carry it up along with his helpful and supportive mates. Oh gosh only £8,000 what an absolute BARG”
But until then we shall continue to sit on the floor in front of a shoddily assembled side table, hair plastered sweatily to our foreheads, staring from a rogue screw to the nonsencial hieroglyph’s ikea like to call instructions, hissing ‘WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU GO THEN?!’
2) You know who your friends are
Nailed this again. Guys I’m such an adult. Just call me Old Mother Willow (which incidentally I don’t look hugely different from when I have my hood up) and be done with it.
I don’t want to brag or anything but I’ve got a pretty amazing bunch of pals. They are incredibly talented, funny women who literally make my every single day better just by being around. (You can pay me later kids).
They are also the kind of drunken banshee’s who propose a ‘quick drink’ that results in you dancing on a bar to the lion king at 2am, snogging the bartender and then waking up in your shoes half an hour before you were supposed to be at work. On a Tuesday.
Or take you to a Comedy show, ask you to take a picture of them with the comedian then spontaneously lick said comedians face like a cartoon dog and then run off leaving you open mouthed holding a camera.
Or come to your leaving drinks for ‘just the one’ with eight bags of shopping then end up taking said shopping to club at 2am and asking the cloakroom lady if she had a bag for life.
Or trying to get into a bar repeatedly by swapping jackets and changing hairstyles in the world’s most lacklustre disguise attempt before grabbing the bouncers cheeks and calling him a ‘jobsworth’.
Hypothetically of course.
3) You feel a need to eat healthier because you have realized you will one day die.
Hmm I mean if this read ‘you feel a need to eat healthier but then you wake up late and slightly hungover on Monday and end up wolfing a chocolate croissant at your desk and think fuck it voluminous shirt dresses are in for a reason’ then yeah I think I’d be nailing this.
My problem is that the minute I start eating healthily I expect to resemble to Giselle in a matter of two days and when that doesn’t happen I basically revert to the age old game of ‘I wonder how many calories I can consume in one day and how much of my food can be beige/covered in cheese’ followed by outraged bitter tears in the changing room at Topshop when I can’t squeeze my bottom into a size 10 jean (LOL AS IF)
4) You are appalled by the sheer number of teenagers hanging out at malls, parking lots, and movie theaters.
I recently made the mistake of going to Reading festival. Don’t get me wrong, I went with MOD and had an excellent time however for someone who is trying to ignore the fact that she’s nearly 45 (small exaggeration) this was the total wrong place to go.
There were YOUTHS everywhere.
And it wasn’t just the sheer volume of youths that bothered me. It was that they were all SO MUCH COOLER THAN ME. Seriously what is with that.
I saw a girl who couldn’t be a day over 17, with an undercut, a nose ring and some sort of crop top that I couldn’t wear even if I didn’t eat for a year. When I was 17 I looked like a foot.
A foot that had gone into a hairdressers and said “you know that guy Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies? Yeah I want that but bigger if possible…” and then burgled a doughnut shop with my mouth. I also exclusively wore tracksuit bottoms with a giant belt and uggs paired with a ribbed jumper and pearls.
It is completely unfair for these youths to be so cool and attractive. That’s a given. What was doubly upsetting was that as I looked at her all I could think was ‘God she must be cold and also that glitter hairspray will be a bitch to wash off’.
Turns out this is what happens when you become an adult. And I know its not just me because my pal B (of headboardgate fame) once gave a talk at a fashion college (she’s much better at life than me) and said the words ‘Stay in school!’ despite the fact that she once successfully painted her toenails in our physics lesson.
5) You know what you want from a relationship now and you communicate that to your potential partners.
Oh god this one stung.
Here’s the thing I think I’ve learnt – if you’re willing to listen to someone who managed to get dumped three times in the space of two months last year (AWAHOO) – in my time of dating in London.
NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY WANT
I have watched male friends date the very embodiment of their hypothetical ideal woman only to turn around three weeks later and go ‘yeah I dunno…she’s a bit…tidy. Her bedroom is so tidy it’s unnerving. Nope I think the only way forward is to never speak to her again’.
And it’s not just men either. For the best part of a year I banged on about how all I wanted was someone to be nice to me whilst proceeding to date every single wanky actor/artist/vintage bicycle shop owner (I KNOW I KNOW) I could lay my paws on.
I am not tarring everyone with the same brush but GENERALLY anyone who says ‘I think monogamy can actually make you physically ill’ on your first date is a HUGE D’BAG and also not right for someone like me who is a hopeless romantic in disguise as a heartless ice queen.
I think this should have read: You’ve endured so many dates with horrendous dickwads that you don’t so much know what you want but you certainly know what you don’t want. However, this may also include having to gather a bit of willpower and not plunging headfirst into romances with guys who organise to see you and then don’t get in touch until 11pm.
It’s ruthless out there guyz
During one of those fun times where I found myself crying on the sofa at 5pm because I was supposed to go out for dinner with the guy I was dating and I was still yet to hear from him despite having texted him a totally casual message* NSF imparted these words of wisdom.
*Hey…what up? Just wondering what the plan was for later or if there even was a plan I can’t even remember what we said HAHA. Umm yeah so lemme know. Or don’t haha. Just it’s kind of late in the day and I’ve got five other invitations to choose from so I need to know asap. Thanks.
NSF aka wise owl of the forest said ‘It’s not supposed to be this hard. when you meet the right person it will just be easy, you won’t even have to think about it.’
She’s super wise and also kind of right. When MOD stumbled into my life (or more accurately to say I stumbled into his because I was wasted. Woo me.) I spent basically the first week of our relationship wondering why he was being so nice to be and regarding him with general suspicion.
For his part he also said he didn’t want a girlfriend but then I came along and I was so intensely wonderful he just fell in love immediately.
I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant when he said ‘yeah I didn’t want a girlfriend. I sort of don’t want a girlfriend now. But it’s quite hard to get rid of you. And I like you although you do fart a lot in your sleep’.
It’s like Shakespeare every day guys.
And sorry not sorry for the farting. No fucks to give on that one.
6) You give less of a fuck about what people think
One of my favourite parts of advancing through my twenties at the speed of light (HAHAHAASOB) is that I find that the older I get, the less I care about the things that used to keep me up at night when I was 21. For example, I’m not sure I care if people at work think I’m cool. Or if I’m pretty enough for boys to fancy me. I’m actually not sure I care what anyone thinks about me apart from my friends and family.
I no longer care that I’d rather eat cat poo than go to a club. Or that, probably, no matter how much I starve myself I’ll never look like Giselle. Most of the time I manage to not give a fuck about these things. (Except for when I’m hungover and feel like my life is a pit of fire).
So you see getting older may mean that I have started to grow one inexplicable white hair out of my eyebrow but it also means that I give less of a fuck about it.
7) You’ve learned the hard way that no paycheck will ever be enough. Related: You have opened a savings account and cry when you see how little is in it.
Lets face it, if you live in London and earn less than 50 grand a year then every month goes a little like this.
PAYDAY: “I’m a queen, I’m Daddy bloody Warbucks, maybe I’ll buy a floor length mirror for my room. Ooh or a nice winter coat. And I’ll definitely book a few expensive wanky gym classes – maybe an aero-yoga thing. Yeah deffo. Oh life is SWEET. But first….TO THE PUB!!!
Half an Hour into payday: Rent, bills, Credit card…..fuck.
Hour into payday: Perhaps will cancel that mirror. And coat.
Week one: This is ok. Budgeting is not so hard. Why do I always run out of money? Just all about a sensible attitude. I might even put a few hundred quid into savings. Mwhahahaaha. Oh but wait…best friends birthday on Friday…. And also have to book train to that hen do…. Oh good crap is that a water bill?! SOB
Week two: Is all fine. Don’t need to get tube – can walk everywhere. Will be so thin and not poor. Good combo. All about attitude.
Week three: I LOVE beans on toast anyway and actually they are very nutritious. Will have to worry about being madeleine shaw style health goddess some other time. Oh Jesus I forgot about council tax….when does that come out? AAAHHHHHHHHHH. No its fine, totally fine. I like living in London. I’m living the dream.
Week four: “ummm….It’s been declined?” feigns shock and stares at card “That’s so weird…I…gosh…I literally just transferred ten billion pounds in there this afternoon! I must call Switzerland immediately….” “Do you want to try it again” “…….nope”.
So hey if this is being an adult then once again I’ve nailed it. What was I even worrying about?!
What makes it worse is the fact that in our twenties our acquaintances seem to be split into two distinct camps:
Those with their lives together and those who do not have their lives together.
Usually the way it will go down is those who have their lives together will meet up with those that do not and merrily chat about the skiing holiday they’ve just booked and what colour they should paint the living room of the flat they own while the other smiles and nods whilst mentally calculating the price of the drink they are drinking and whether they might also be able to order some chips or if that is just a pipe dream.
It also invariably ends with someone sobbing on the bus they had to get home after their card got declined trying to top up their oyster.
ITS HYPOTHETICAL OK GUYS….sniff.
So yeah turns out I’m not totally winning on the adult front. Especially if you regard Buzzfeed to be the central font of all knowledge which I actually do.
It can be easy to lose yourself in black hole that is the quarter life crisis. Who am I? What am I doing with my life? Why did I drink 10 buckets of wine and disgrace myself? Where is my savings account?…so many questions.
The important thing to remember is that actually no one knows if they’re doing it right. No one actually knows how to adult and most 20-somethings find themselves caught between wanting to grow up and not wanting any of the jaded stability we’ve come to associate adulthood with.
I cannot be the only person who does a small sick in their mouth when Facebook (aka the hardinger of doom) merrily announces its been 9 years since you were at school.
We’re the quarter life crisis generation, so the papers say. We’re anxious, overwhelmed and every piece of paper that drops through our door is either a bill or an invitation to some girl from schools wedding.
What we have to remember is we’re all in it together. And actually we’re all having fun in it together for a large proportion of the time. For every lip wobble you have as another ‘he liked a thing so he put it a ring on it’ post of smuggery hits your facebook wall, close your computer and go do something else. Even just get yourself out for a glorious sunday afternoon walk with your friends and relish the pleasure of spontaneous weekend plans before you get tied down in the realities of houses that need to be dusted and children that need to be entertained.
If the feeling of ‘what the hell am I doing with my life’ is sparked from the fact that we no longer behave like our parents generation then maybe this is the ideal time to figure out what it is we actually want and to be grateful that we live in a time where we can live our lives however the fuck we want to. (Unless you want to live it in a huge house in Kensington – that one may be slightly out of reach.)
Which can surely only be a positive thing.