For those of you that don’t follow me on Instagram, I turned 24 on Saturday.
(Dress: Dancing Leopard)
Yes, I now have less than 365 days of being able to describe myself as being in my early twenties and would be lying if I told you that I didn’t have a good few minutes of ‘holy shit life is moving fucking fast, how do I slow it down, I want it all to stop‘ after waking up ~a little bit hungover~ on the morning of the big day.
I’m the youngest of all of my friends, most of whom are now 25 or above and my little wobble was therefore met with little sympathy after I shared my concerns with my comparatively ancient pals.
Oh please, you’re an infant. Shut up. As if. You’re so young!
Yes, yes, I am, and thanks to a rigorous skincare routine (read about it here) I plan on looking this was for a bloody long time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not entitled to an ‘ermigarddd what is the point of it all, where am I going, who am I and WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?‘ style panic at the prospect of another year passing me by.
On a day to day basis, during the weekly grind and endless cycles of washing, cooking, eating, watching Love Island, showering and working, I rarely find time to spare a thought for things like time and humanity and space and life and the speed of it all. I think not of the ever changing world that we live in, my place on this planet and the never ending circle of life.
But it seems the acknowledgement of the passing of another year with cake and champagne was enough to evoke a moment of is this what 24 is MEANT to look like because I am finally, undeniably a grownup and I am totally shit scared about it?
And truthfully, I want to chat that one through.
Because, at the risk of sounding a bit like Britney Spears, I am not not a girl anymore but I’m not yet a woman either and it’s a stressful time to be me.
Are quarter life-crisis’ a thing? Or are they, like the mid-life version, reserved mostly for men with enough money for a Porché or failing that, a very light bicycle? Although I have no plans to start visiting strip clubs or leaving Alex for a 17-year-old, I’m dealing with some internal turmoil that, try as I might, I cannot escape from.
Did I make the most of my youth? Was I selfish enough? Reckless enough? Did I take enough risks? Make enough friends? Go to all the parties? Did I make the most of not needing to think of money for future houses and babies and food for next Tuesday because a life of nothing but pizza no longer seems viable?
What of right now? Am I working hard enough? Doing enough? Making the most of my youthful exuberance and charm? Pushing myself because I will never have time like this again? Socialising to the best of my ability before baby-sitters and pacemakers have to be factored into it? Dressing in a way that I won’t be able to get away with once my boobs decide that they ought to get better aquatinted with my knees? Pushing myself now to secure the best possible future filled with the best possible memories?
And GOD. What of the future? Do I want to do this job forever? How long can my day-to-day look like this and when am I going to have to get really properly serious about the fact that this feast of famine way of earning money probably won’t look so cute on my 45th birthday? Marriage – before or after I’m 30? Babies – before or after I’m married? Keeping a wine rack full of wine in the house that didn’t cost £4.99 from the co-op – ever???
Do you see why my older friends hate me and my 24 – ness yet?
I do, but at the same time, there’s not a chance in hell that those good people have not encountered thoughts like these before, it’s part of the human condition to fear old age.
Time isn’t slowing down and I am not getting any younger. This is happening and it’s obviously fine. Before I know it I’ll be back to worrying about hand-washing a cashmere jumper and what to do with the growing stain on the ceiling in my bathroom, the fear of old age left to lie dormant for another few months.
But I’m pleased to be acknowledging it right now. Because whilst in one way getting old is literally the easiest thing you can do (literally just sit around and wait for it to happen), it’s also 100% the most difficult thing in the world to navigate.
There is enormous pressure on us to look a certain way, a soft-spot reserved in society for people in their early twenties to fuck it up as we work it out, an eyebrow ready to rise as we hurtle towards thirty with no clear agenda for marriage and babies and of course a career that everyone out there is doing better than you.
I had my first book published when I was 22 and I wish I’d realised then the massive pressure that I was putting on myself by doing that.
I should have made a contingency plan of some kind for the fact that short of finding a way of single handedly achieving world peace, I was not going to enter 24 with the same ‘I’m a fucking champion’ feeling that came when I turned 23. By comparison I was going to feel as if I’d done nothing but sit on my hands for a year.
In a way I am grateful to this feeling for spurring me on to never feel like I’ve wasted a whole year ever again, in another way I’m furious with my competitive nature that sees me needing to make each year more impressive than the last.
The organised, caring, responsible side of me is loving getting older, thinking of motherhood and how I will decorate my home-office from which my next ten books, three weekly columns and countless award acceptance speeches will be written.
The wild, perpetually late, party loving side of me is in turmoil at the prospect of not being able to drink prosecco three times a week, fighting the urge to photoshop my wrinkles out of my relentless Instagram photos and being left behind in a career that counts on you being young, bright and spunky for as long as is possible.
If there is one thing I’ve learned this year though, that might detract from the fact that this post is so far nothing but a reminder of the inexorable force that is death and old age (according to my sister anyway), it would be the power of putting trust into yourself.
Just when you were thinking this particular chunk of writing couldn’t get anymore intense, I go and drop the ‘t-bomb’… sorry.
Trust that you did everything you could when it mattered.
Trust that you’re meant to be where you are right now.
Trust that, just like a homing pigeon, if you follow your feet and your heart, you’ll end up exactly where you need to be when it matters.
And most importantly?
Trust in yourself that everything you do, everything you’ve done was alright. That it was the right thing at the time and that, if it wasn’t, it happened for a reason, it happened so that you could learn from it.
It’s not always that easy, I appreciate that, and so there is one other place you can place your trust and that is in this wonderful planet that, although terrifying and confusing and utterly horrible at times, is a floating mass of miracle in an expansive, infinite space of nothingness and that in spite of everything incredibly unlikely, the elements came together not just to create you but to keep you here.
Every year a blessing, that’s what my mum always says anyway. A blessing that it’s probably best we don’t think too much about.
So there you have it, my terrifyingly overwhelming thoughts on turning 24.
The panic is now over, writing has, as it always does, acted as the most perfect therapy and I am happy to crack on with the inane mundanities that make up my day to day life, trusting that everything will be okay, not just because it has to be, but because it will always be appropriate for me to drink prosecco three times a week.