“Go hard or home.”
“You can sleep when you’re dead”.
You know what people say, normally as they’re bullying you and shaming you into doing something that you’ve told them that you can’t be arsed with.
“Oh perlease, you’re SO boring, you’re only young once, come out with us, one day you’ll be old and wishing you’d had more fun”.
Maybe, but tonight I’m watching Bake Off and I really don’t want a hangover in the morning so it’s a no from me, now piss off and leave me to my pizza.
I’m pretty good at going out, but I’m also really, really good at staying in. I don’t like waking up with my mouth feeling like it’s full of sand, I’m bored of the headaches and I’m really done with the days of spending my last £17 on a round of tequila. I have responsibilities now. I have a dog and a job (where I’m my own boss and I really need to not fuck around with that) and I’m trying to plan my future (which I hope will include a lot of Jo Malone, meaning I do probably have to sacrifice the jaegers). I can’t just go on six benders in a row and expect my work not to suffer, I can’t afford to blow my remaining pennies on a skirt I don’t need and, with a boyfriend who works a conventional office job, we can’t just pack up a suitcase and piss off to Greece for weeks on end.
Sometimes, occasionally, I look back at the me of five years ago; the one that could go on six benders in a row without really suffering, the one that regularly blew money on useless skirts and the one that never actually pissed off to Greece, but who did bugger off to Dublin for a few months, (and when you’re eighteen that’s pretty much the same thing) and I mourn it. I mourn the freedom that I had. With rose tinted glasses on I look back on my former years and I miss them; it all seemed so fun, so easy, so care free. What wouldn’t I give to be eighteen again? No one expected anything from me, no one relied on me, I was a free agent. Young, dumb and free. I’m sure I’ve heard that in a song before now.
And yet, of course, at the time, everything was just as shit as it is now. I had responsibilities, of a different kind.
That’s not to say that my life today is shit, on the contrary, my life is wonderful. I’m so lucky and I’m so happy. But I’m also very busy and very tired and very stressed. I lack any real direction, of course, because I’m 23 and who the hell has any direction at 23? I don’t see my friends as much as I would like, I feel guilty about loads of stuff and give myself a really hard time if I go off and have too much fun. Probably in the same way that I did when I was eighteen, but I can’t remember. It’s the gift of hindsight that made my life of five years ago look so amazing. And no doubt it will be re-gifted to me in a few more years and I’ll look back at what I’ve got now and mourn the freedom, the fun, the laughter.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the fashion freedom that comes with youth and whether I was taking it for granted; was I going to come down the stairs one day asking if I was too old for something and hate myself so much for wasting all the times I didn’t need to ask that question by wearing nothing but black jeans and a hoodie? Am I wasting my youth basically, I came to the conclusion that I definitely was.
Last night I sat with my mum as she went through stacks of photos that she had taken in the 1980s. God weren’t times simpler? Weren’t they happy times? Didn’t we all look so hot? Yes. Topless sunbathing, parties, bad hair, laughter. So much laughter. Photo upon photo of my mum’s older sister who died, too young, aged 40. Helly smiling. Helly smoking. Helly with this boyfriend, that boyfriend and… whatwasthatboyfriendsname? Helly smiling more, laughing, pissed, on holiday, naked, happy. I’ve missed her my whole life. I never knew her, not really, but I know I love her. My mum talks about her all the time, all the time, every story is better than the one before. God they got into trouble. They had fun, so, so much fun. They were the good old days eh?
Much like these days will one day be my good old days. Before I even know it my whole life will have changed and I’ll be looking at photos with my kids, laughing and crying, sharing my memories, reminiscing, mourning probably. Celebrating.
Celebrating a life well lived. A life full of laughter and joy and happiness and friends. Of new experiences, bad hair, worse clothes, no problems.
I won’t look back at this day and remember the headache that I woke up with, I won’t remember the fact that I stubbed my toe or uploaded the podcast half an hour late. I’ll remember a great day spent on the beach, eating sweets and skimming stones. I’ll remember all the stuff that I took for granted at the time.
I was driving along a costal road today, looking out across the Irish Sea and a song came on, it’s by Macklemore and Kesha:
I wish somebody would’ve told me then, someday these’ll be the good old days.
I don’t know why but I nearly cried listening to that song, hearing those words today. I think I really needed to hear them, I think I needed a kick up the arse; I needed reminding how good everything was, how precious life is. How I need to open my eyes to it and enjoy it and live it and celebrate it.
I didn’t mean to have an epiphany today and I definitely didn’t mean to write such a cheesy blog post. But here we are. I did have an epiphany and now I’m writing about it. I suppose, in the hope that I can kick someone else up the arse. Someone who is feeling overwhelmed by their life today, who is caught up being stressed and angry and tired. Someone who can’t see the good, who is missing days passed, who is sad and who can’t explain why. Life is good. It’s so so good. And it’s also really, really quick.
And so for as long as I remember to, I’m going to live my best life. And remember to enjoy it whilst it’s happening and not just as I look back over some blurry photos in years to come.