Saturday, 11 March 2017

23 going on...

What do you do when you're 23, and you feel like you're getting old?


When you're genuinely upset because you couldn't complete yesterday's Evening Standard crossword, but then you completed the sudoku in record time and set the world to right. When your idea of a perfect Friday night is cooking a jambalya so hot that it'll destroy your mouth ulcer, and binge watching 5 hours of Broadchurch in your pyjamas. When you can't help but stop and look in the window of every estate agent you pass, and discuss house prices / home interiors / value for money with whoever is lucky enough to be with you. When all you want is some fresh herbs to make your kitchen look homely and rustic, but you killed your coriander...your peppermint...and there's bugs eating your basil. When you have no choice but to wear 2 pairs of socks everywhere otherwise you'll end up with chill blains. When it feels like everyone around you is getting married, having babies and buying houses and your main priority is investing in a garden trowel. When you need 8 hours sleep a night (every night). When you bought Fruit Polos to try and restore your youth, and half a packet gave you toothache for 3 days. When you look forward to a Monday evening watching The Martin Lewis Money Show, and dedicate time to researching mortgages you have no deposit to complement. When it's 10pm on a Saturday night and you're on your fifth cup of ginger tea, and twenty third game of Tetris.

We all spend such a long time wanting to grow up, to be older, to have more independence. Now, adulthood, age, impending maturity feels like it's coming at me at 100 miles an hour. And I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. One minute I was being told what to do, and when to do it and now someone expects me to understand my electricity meter and lifetime ISAs. In the last 5 months, we've seen 4 friends get engaged and start planning their weddings, and others house hunting. To buy. In London. A feat I never thought possible for anyone in their twenties, not being supported by millionaire parents or a hefty inheritance. I feel confident and happy in a job where I'm learning new things, but I'm ever more aware that this is the beginning of maybe another 45 years at work. In so many ways, everything feels like it's coming round so quickly, and there's no going back. In others, there feels as if there is many more years of adult, of weddings, and electricity meters, and feeling guilty for not buying organic veg ahead of me. 

And in the midst of this, it's easy to forget the ways in which you're still young; the ways in which you're getting a bit old, but not that old. Like the joy you get from having a slush puppy, or having Pom Bears as part of your packed lunch at work everyday. And how your metabolism is still on your side, and you eat quite a lot of cake and never really put on any weight. That it's still perfectly acceptable to wear a mini skirt for, at the very least, another 7 years. And that it's ok for you not to know things; for people to accept that you're quite new to this, and happily explain things to you. To have, comparably, very few responsibilities and to be able to go out when you want and do, budget dependent, what you want without having to ask your mum...or get a babysitter. And to get a Deliveroo because you're not doing Weight Watchers, or trying really hard to save for a house deposit/wedding/baby, but you're too tight to go out and fork out for restaurant drinks. 

Perhaps the best part of all is the fact this is a transition period of your life, and you have the opportunity to make of it what you want. Your Saturday can be spent playing Mario Kart on your Nintendo Switch and eating fishfingers, and your Sunday can be spent at an engagement party and making packed lunches and freezer meals for the week. You have the people around you to push you when you need it, to start saving for a deposit or go to the gym. But you're free enough to do it on your own terms, saving for your summer holiday first and timing your weekly gym date with your weekly dinner date (...because you're already out, so why not make the most of it?!) You don't have to pretend you want to go out clubbing anymore, because you could be too old for that, but you also get IDed everywhere you go (for alcohol, paracetemol, a Pritt stick) and you're reminded that it's only 5 years ago since you started having all these grown up privileges. By the time the UK Disneyland is built you might have a kid but, by then, we might have also developed an immortality drug and then there'll be no rush to properly grow up anyway. 

It's a funny old time, and especially when you look like a teenager, you're actually in your twenties, you have the lifestyle aspirations of someone middle aged, but share a lot of the same interests (and a bedtime) with pensioners. But I figure we're all making it up as we go along. For some of us, being an adult is a new promotion, an engagement ring, or buying a house. For others, it's buying nail scissors without getting IDed, keeping your peace lily alive for 3 years, and perfecting your jacket potato technique. Somewhere, sometime, they might intertwine - but until that time comes, I'll be here, trying to work out if I can get a G&T on Uber Eats, making an Instagram account for my adopted orangutan and planning my engagement party outfit for tomorrow. 
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