My brother turns 26 this year. 26. Granted, he’s still enjoying the madness that is your youth in your twenties, but it’s difficult to think of him as edging towards 30 when, in my mind he’ll always be 19. Isn’t it strange that you often accept the people closest to you as frozen at one age? My grandparents, for example, have been frozen at 64 for years now, despite veering towards their late 70s in reality. The same goes for my Mum; in my mind she is eternally 42, and whenever I take a second to remind myself that I’m stuck ten years in the past, I come to appreciate all over again just how quickly time passes.
“Life is too short to-” - a phrase I often employ to explain my diverse range of hats or to excuse my 11:30pm dash to the kitchen for a plate of cheese and biscuits (who can really say no to a lovely mild cheddar though, am I right?). But why do we say “life is too short”, when it’s the longest thing that any of us will ever do? Between clocking in and clocking out, this is the longest shift you’ll ever work, and who knows when your lunch break is, if ever. Maybe we say it’s too short because - and please excuse the drawn out metaphor - there is no chance of overtime. Depending on what you believe, you only get one go at this life, so every minute is precious.
With that being said, I’m terrified of getting older. Don’t get me wrong - you’d be hard pressed to find somebody that enjoys their own birthday as much as I do, and my inner narcissist almost bursts with joy whenever a random passer-by fails to avoid my overtly large ‘Birthday Girl’ badge and so has to wish me a happy birthday.
Jeans - ASOS (this pair but I cropped them myself)
Hat - ASOS
Bag - Paradise Row*
It’s not the actual process of ageing which terrifies me, but instead, it’s the fear of wasting my youth. My biggest bug-bear in life is wasting my time. I hate taxis not turning up on time and making me miss my train (happened earlier this week, but of course, I’m not bitter…). I hate spam emails about SEO or cheeky PRs asking me to post three full blog features in return for the chance to win a voucher from some contrived competition. I hate pointless meetings, pointless phone calls, or pointless knocks at the door. I’m a busy girl, and any time I have spare, I like to spend with my favourite people. Any time wasted, is time I could have spent catching up with my best friends, or cooking dinner with Keiran, or sitting down for a cup of tea with my Nan. Time, for me, is the greatest commodity, and it’s something I’m always short on.
And as time speeds by, I find myself becoming more and more worried that I might be wasting my youth. Am I taking enough risks? Am I pushing myself enough? Am I staying out and enjoying enough mid-week cocktails before I have too many responsibilities to get smashed on a Wednesday afternoon? Like a mint on my tongue, I’m constantly rolling the idea over and over, conscious that this is time that I’ll never get back, and I have to make the most of it whilst I can.
In it’s defence, this fear hasn’t always been unfounded, and I’ve made a few big life decisions because I felt I’d become complacent and I’d look back and regret not giving myself a kick up the arse. The dread of reaching my mid-thirties and looking back on my twenties with regret has inspired me to make some of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it also festers in the back of my mind like an irritating scratch, causing me to second-guess myself or needlessly fret that I’m not in enough of a hurry.
Whereas a lot of my peers around me are worried that they aren't saving enough for their first mortgage (which, may I add, I'm definitely not (£0 isn't hard to beat, after all)) or considering if an Apple watch is really a good investment (which, may I add, it is not), I'm sat here, calendar open, wondering if I've had enough wine-fuelled dinners with friends and bingey festivals over the last few months to ensure that I'm maxxing out on the reckless abandon of my 20s.
And yet, at the same time, I cannot wait to grow older. The difference between myself now at 23 to myself at 20 is so vast that I feel like I don’t recognise the person I used to be. Or really even like her that much, actually. I was still a good person, and I still held all of the qualities that I pride myself on today (opinionated, ambitious, cares deeply and passionately about doggos), but I’ve also shed those qualities - or at least I’m certainly in the process of shedding those qualities - that I didn’t like at all. I was a terrible drunk person, and I’m still a terrible drunk person, but now I rarely drink to excess. I’m infinitely more confident in myself. I don’t care if people think I’m fat, or ugly, or even stupid, because I’ve become more secure within myself as an individual, as a business person, and as a woman.
In short, I’ve grown up. And growing up is fucking marvellous. I’m sure I’ll revisit this thought in one year, two years, even ten years time, and think “pffft, what a chump I was at 23”, and oh Lordy, I cannot wait. With age comes experience, and with experience comes knowledge, tolerance, reflection - with age comes growth. I’m enjoying growing as a person and shedding those all-encompassing anxieties prescribed by early youth, and I feel I’m blossoming in the process of beginning to learn myself. To really know myself.
So there we have it: on one shoulder, I have my restless, anxious, and impatient version of myself, constantly in twists and turns as to whether I’m throwing the best years of my life away, and on the other shoulder, I have the quieter, more confident version of myself, reassuring me that with each year it gets better, and hey, at least there’s gin.
Let’s hope they can play nicely.
Photography: Michaela Tornaritis
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