OPINION NATION: Twenty Five And A Day
Yesterday, I turned 25. When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be in my twenties. I remember one of my neighbours – I don’t remember her name – but every time she’d pull her green Hyundai Excel into the driveway, pink dice dangling down with matching faux fur seats, I would watch from the trampoline and wish I was grown up. She was blonde, charming, a little loud and loved drinking UDL’s and Cruisers. At the time, I was twelve and she was twenty-one. Then one day I joined the club and had the shocking revelation that I didn’t feel like an adult at all. The double digit milestone I’d held in such high regard for so long proved to be rather anti-climactic and underwhelming.
I had sincere expectations that I’d be struck by the early twenties initiation lightning bolt, endowing me with instantaneous powers to help me live life better. For after all, adults know what they’re doing. Adults have a plan and wisdom and they aren’t scared of anything. I figured I mustn’t be an adult, not yet. By that point I’d already tried three different degrees, become well and truly sick of not being able to understand my own mind and hadn’t held a job down for longer than two months at a time. The age was welcomed in by a medium sized party at my house themed ‘Pretentious Bohemian Artist Party’. Friends came dressed as Sartre, Artaud, Wilde, Edie and Yoko. I chose Nancy Cunard. There’s still a polaroid somewhere of me wrapped up in the hall runner crying out like Lisa Simpson when she drinks the fairground water and hallucinates that she’s the Lizard Queen. That’s a world class ‘adult’ moment captured there.
Four years later, yesterday, I entered the glorious, overrated next phase of ‘adult-hood’ – my mid-twenties. This is when shit gets real. This is when you should really know what the fuck you’re doing, what you want and what everything means. Spoiler alert: I don’t, and very few people around me do either. Which brings me to the point of this article; to pay my respects to just a few things I feel I’ve managed to grasp just a little bit in this crazy thing called life.
I google ‘How to…’ all the time. ‘How to’ – get motivated; pick a career; build a tiny home; deal with anxiety in relationships; be mindful; make bread. Tell me sweet search engine, how do I live life? I’m part of the generation that were blessed with Google in high-school and so experienced all of life’s most confronting stages with the help of poorly researched and edited websites. It’s almost like an addiction, typing in with such fervour what you fail to be able to know yourself overnight. Oftentimes old mate offers only the bare minimal of advice, and you’re left sitting back realising that life will teach you, not your computer. Patience. Learn, you must.
Jack Dawson was my first love. I was six and absolutely terrified when I saw him reincarnated in the advert for Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t yet understand what film or actors were. Then there was Ariel, trading her tail for legs to be with a boy who played the flute really well. She must have felt something pretty strong, because all I wanted was a tail and couldn’t understand the appeal of the trade-off. They say you’ll just know when it happens. Fireworks, crazed hunger and obsession, nervousness and being lost for words. I’ve definitely felt these things, but usually for people I’ll never interact with any further than a superficial customer service transaction. Pretty much every time you get to know a person much deeper than them being your mystery love, they very quickly become human and flawed, because that’s real life. We are all human and we are all flawed. To feel warmth and comfort and a strange adoration for someone who does really stupid shit in Alain de Botton’s ‘loveable idiot’ kind of way – well, I’m pretty convinced that that’s love. I believe this because Jack wasn’t real and neither was Eric. We weren’t shown by films the fundamental flaws and inevitable collide of personality traits any actual couple experiences and so when that happens we’re lead to wonder ‘this can’t be love?’. When we’re younger and dating for the first time(s) most of us aren’t yet mature enough to understand what it means to endure and get through the hard times, but once we do, the whole notion of love shifts ever so slightly within us and our tumultuous existential minds can finally have a little rest.
Love has taken me a long time to grasp in even the smallest way. I know I’m no-where close to done and perhaps I’ll never be – but one thing’s for sure – it wasn’t constructed by ad men from the fifties. It’s real and subtle and scary and the most human experience we have available to us if we’re willing to dive in and accept that just wanting to be around the person all the time is probably a good enough sign that you’ve found it. It’s rare, but it’s simple.
Oh, and I don’t believe in Tinder.
Deep down, I kind of can’t wait for my spinster party years. Fran Katzemjammer, you are my spirit animal. Bridget Jones, we’d be great friends. Patsy, you know how the world really works. I wonder if I’ll be like you fine women when I grow up? Lately, partying has somewhat begun to tame itself for me. It’s probably just a phase. Or maybe what’s happened is I’ve learnt how to better moderate my fun? Like, if I don’t feel like being around people and shooting the breeze, then I just won’t do it. To do things you don’t really want to do (outside of integral responsibilities) is a waste of the life I’ve finally started realising I don’t actually have that much of. I will die. Or maybe I’m over thinking it. All I can say with absolute conviction is Doogs.
A few years ago, my friend Sophie told me she would stop eating bad food and start exercising from twenty-five years old. As if twenty-five is the age of reinvention from your debaucherous years of Macca’s runs, benders and relative alcoholism. Having experimented with veganism earlier this year and dropping alcohol for 3 months, I’ve had a deep yearning to go back to that period of feeling vivacious and this weird kind of strong all the time. I’d like to do it again, but to be honest I’m not ready yet. Food wise, I’m not ready to pack in the towel and cease being as gluttonous as I often am. Monday continues to be the ‘I’m going to start my new healthy life today’ day of the week.
Exercise on the other hand. It really is true that it helps your mind out – that one I vouch for. I can’t Frisbee, I’ve come to accept this, so I swim. If I’ve learnt anything, it’s that moving about is my favourite thing to do. Going for walks, checking out the world. Yeah, that’s the best. Give it a go you slugs.
Honestly, where do I start? Next.
It’s amazing how long it has taken me to really know what a true friend is. I moved around a lot as a kid which prevented me from having close friends for more than a year or so at a time, so that may have had something to do with it. This is my current consensus of what a good friend should act like:
A friend would never hurt your feelings intentionally
A friend gives you tough love when you need it
A friend plucks you up out of bed when you’re down
A friend forgets you’re there when you do things alone in each other’s company.
They’re a real thing and they’re beginning to pop up everywhere like spring flowers. It’s really confronting to be honest. Maybe because deep, deep down I know that I’d probably be a good mum and so my cells are like ‘yeah, do that thing!’ while my heart and mind are like ‘Ha-ha, nice try evolution!’. I’ve found that I hang out far less with a friend who has become a mum simply because I’m kind of scared, and I know that’s not okay, but I feel like this is a common reaction from those without children. It’s like a team sport or a club you’re not part of or something, the us and them, the ‘other’. That could all just be bullshit and I should grow up and be a supportive friend. After all, I’m twenty-five now.
I never really took much notice of cheese until we all started getting older and cheese now makes an appearance at every group event I attend. Just an observation.
My friends know I have many dreams, like owning my own bed and breakfast in Pemberton, owning a bookshop café, live life forever as a lady of leisure, live off my own plant and animal produce, somehow maintain some kind of music career amidst all of that, obtain a husky companion…and a horse, and maybe hike around the world. Which leads me back to number 4. Career…
It’s a vicious little loop that one.
So what do we do now?
Having spent most of my life grief stricken with anxiety, somehow I’ve finally managed to ease those rapid, merciless thoughts trapped and circling perpetually around my mind. People would always tell me that the key is just to ‘have fun’. Now, that was a rather patronising bit of advice to hear as a person who found it so hard to be able to do. This cliché however is the greatest truth I’ve come to know. This is all just one great, big moment, and it’s really beautiful. If you can’t quite see that, that’s okay, I couldn’t for a long time. Sometimes you’ll wake and all that clarity you had when you drifted off to sleep will be gone, but it will come back. So I guess my point is that although I might not feel like an adult, I do feel like life gets easier as I get older.