Forget mid-life crisis, I am having a quarter life breakdown and freaking out.
A couple of weeks ago I turned 21, and thus became a fully-fledged adult, ergo, OLD.
I suddenly became terrified of people knowing my age; I removed my date of birth from Facebook and frowned at the words ‘birthday party’. Trust me, there was nothing to celebrate. My mind was consumed with this idea that once people knew my age they would automatically have expectations of me, now this is fine when you are 17 and the preconception is to be jolly and hapless, but the notion for a 21 year old seemed far more terrifying. Surely, by now, I am meant to own several pencil skirts, have a five year plan, and just generally be sorted in terms of where I am going. The reality is far more depressing; I own no pencil skirts, I can barely plan five days let alone five years and I don’t have a clue what I will do post-graduation (regardless of how many times I am told to drop my humanities degree and become an accountant by elderly relatives).
Look how I’ve grown - my 4th Birthday Party and, my 21st. Both cracking nights.
The joy of being the birthday girl does mean that you get to make your friends dress up.
Turning this landmark age was preoccupying my thoughts; I reflected back to the 21 year old I imagined I’d be when I was 16, full of wisdom and advice, a real font of knowledge. I’m not quite that girl yet… truly; I’m still just bumbling my way through.
I can honestly say I don’t know anyone else who is as old before their time as I am, for yes I love Radio 4 and I knit, and yes, instead of having a crazy house party I am just having some close friends over for dinner party and a murder mystery do. Crazy, mental stuff I hear you scream. However, it’s not my lack of a wild nature that bothers me, getting pleasure out of watching Newsnight and going to bed early happened way before I turned 21; what’s terrifying is the idea that I have missed out on the vital stage, somewhere between 15 and 21, where your life just gets sorted. I mean, where’s my job? Where’s my husband? Where’s my Ikea furnished studio apartment?
Then it hit me, like all great things that hit you, with a colossal disbelief that you didn’t see it earlier –where on earth is the fun in having a life planned out?! The idea of a mortgage terrifies me more than anything else does, I can barely commit to a phone contract let alone a house. The fact that my dreams are constantly evolving and developing is exciting; it means I constantly learn from the things that affect me.
Soon, I am going to one of those classic ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’ birthday parties, typically however, I didn’t know then and I definitely don’t know now. I admit, it would ease my parents’ mind if I knew what route I wanted to take; the thought of their wandering daughter still living with them in ten years panics us both in equal amounts. Yet, despite my dreams being vague, they are also big, and that’s sort of the most important thing. I grew up in a small town and I always wanted to leave, I always wanted to do something which would affect some positive change, physically, I just wanted to do something good. Since I’ve gone to university my whole perspective on life has changed, I never knew the possibilities open to me, meeting so many inspiring and incredibly talented people really does push you to do bigger and better things.
So now a note to myself:
My new resolution: Stop stressing that your life isn’t sorted, it isn’t meant to be. I commit to trying new things, to leaving my options open and creating those wide doorways to greener pastures.
I must stop comparing myself to others – what is meant to happen, will happen, but in my own manner and time. So, when I feel the pressure of growing up, I must take a deep breath and remember that the future is mine - you make your own happiness so I propose going wild.
At the end of the day 21 is just a number, you set your own expectations, so you shouldn’t concern yourself with anyone else’s. So I’ll take more pity on those 22 year olds that I assumed knew it all, I guess everyone is just struggling through like me.
Wish me luck turning 30...