Everyone else is writing these big age-conscious lists, so I thought I’d add my nice two pence (Hey, listicles, if you can’t beat them, join them. Um, *that* sounds dodgier than intended.)
It’s true that when I was 17 – hell, even 21 ‒ I definitely thought I’d have my shit a bit more together by now, when it comes to all those traditional markers of “growing up”. Not sure how, but I did.
Ever since then, it’s been dawning on me that I may have been sold a big fat illusion (along with the rest of my “whiny, endlessly-adolescent, poverty-stricken, city-living, responsibility-dodging Millenial” friends, APPARENTLY).
When I graduated from Uni for the first time I quickly descended into a black depression that lasted for months – nay, years ‒ that was only mildly helped by getting my first job after six months’ thankless unpaid internships, and then dramatically worsened by my then-boyfriend deciding to sod off.
BUT then I saw this list, on recently-launched site The Debrief (which seems generally cool), about why everyone should freak out about turning 25. And, instead of nodding along, I had a realisation.
BECAUSE, while everyone’s telling me I should freak out, and for years I’ve kind of BEEN freaking out, I actually realised that I’m 25, and you know what? I’m OK with it!
I KNOW! Imagine!
I had the obligatory middle-class, graduate, privileged quarter-life crisis that rears its ugly head every now and again. BUT, even though most of the things I was worrying about haven’t been resolved – I STILL don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford a flat, I STILL don’t know if my job is what I want to do forever, I STILL haven’t written that bestselling book, and I STILL haven’t got a ring on my finger, or know if I ever will, I STILL haven’t been to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Fiji or Australia (I know, cry for me, right?) ‒ it’s ACTUALLY TOTALLY FINE.
So here’s my two pence on why I’ve decided there’s REALLY no need to freak out over the big two-five (even if you don’t have a partner, your dream career, any hope of buying a flat, and still find toothpaste on your crumpled shirt three days a week)
- Relationships: You’ve probably had your heart completely obliterated at least once, if not a few times, by now, so even if you’re still not sure what the hell’s going on with your love life, you at least know more about what NOT to do
- Flat-sharing: It can properly suck but you’ve shared enough different houses to know that people (even if it’s your boy/girlfriend) don’t mean to be annoying when they leave the mouldy bath mat on the floor for the twelve- billionth time that week. You know your habit of leaving your dishes till morning makes your flatmate want to nail your head against the wall too, so hey, let’s each just do what we can, OK?
- Work: With any luck, even if you’re still doing internships and junior jobs, you’re likely to have a few years’ work experience under your belt. So, even though *certain* people might insist on treating you as if you’re still a new graduate, you’re actually way more likely than ever to have an idea of what’s going on (plus, you’re young enough to actually work the computers)
- Pretending to like shit because “everyone else does”: Gone. So you prefer to stay at home in your slippers or go to your favourite pub with your mates or fling oil paint at canvases while drinking tequila and singing along to Magic FM (or whatever else you love to do) rather than rub up against grope-happy strangers in some overpriced club with sticky floors, crap music and flabbergastingly-expensive drinks? Yep, and you don’t care who knows it
- Accepting that friends come and go: Equally, you’ve lost a few friends along the way and realised that it’s sad but hey, you’ve got other mates now who they don’t know either, and these things probably happen for a reason
- Keeping better track of your chocolate and cheese and G&T addiction: You know what you can and can’t eat to blow up like a balloon (or fade away like hay in a breeze) and even though you don’t always get it right, you’re getting better at it, and feeling better for it too…sometimes
- Getting your butt in gear every now and again: Similarly, you’ve had enough years out of Uni to go through the cycle of feeling crap, joining a gym, getting into it, not going, leaving, re-joining, and actually going, to reach the point where that spin class is becoming least a semi-regular habit – or something that actually, you really kind of love
- Surviving harsh words: You’ve probably fallen out – and hopefully made up ‒ with a good friend at least once, and lived to tell the tale, most probably with the help of some frank words, copious amounts of wine and several seriously great hugs
- Pay: With any luck you’re making a bit more money than you were at 21, and even if living in the city means saving is nothing more than a mythical theory, you’re likely to have a bit more left over than before – or at the very least, have a few more experiences and nice things to show for what you *did* have
- Tolerance levels: You have less and less tolerance for rudeness. Someone being an idiot on the tube or bus? Pushing in front of you at the checkout, making a snide comment or fobbing you off on the phone or email? Er, nope, ain’t nobody got time for that. Kill it with kindness. Or, you know, a four-letter word
- On marriage, kids and houses: You’re old enough to know people who are getting engaged and shacked-up and married and pregnant and mortgaged, and happy for them, but you’re still young enough to feel secretly relieved you’re still young, free and single (legally, at least). I mean, do you really want to spend hundreds of pounds and your weekends on replacing guttering, freaking out about table arrangements, and buying washing machines? No.
- Buying a house (LOL): And while you’re more likely to hear some friend of a friend talk about buying a house these days, you’re still young enough to chuckle “Oh yeah, you and whose jackpot lottery ticket?” into your drink without feeling like a pariah
- Life isn’t over by 25: Ok, so it’s mildly alarming that Lorde and Cara Delevingne are practically yet to go through puberty and Zadie Smith was writing her first novel while still in nappies, but by now you’ve realised that life isn’t over by 21. Rest assured that AWESOME people like Harrison Ford, Sheryl Crow, Alan Rickman, Vera Wang and Tina Fey were well into their thirties before they had their first big break. Hell, even J K Rowling was 32 before the first Harry Potter book came out
- On “travelling”: You’ve probably accepted that even though backpacking for months around South East Asia might no longer be a viable option compared to attempting to get and stay on the career ladder, you’d actually prefer to see countries in easy two-week stints where your clothes are generally washed, you don’t have to carry six months’ worth of stuff in your backpack, and never need to sort out twelve visas in one go
- Old and happy: You’re still young enough to feel 21 when you want to, but old enough to know that actual 21 year olds are more irritating than a ladder in your tights and an alarm clock on Sundays
- On leaving pop culture behind: You already had your favourite pop stars in place before pretenders like One Direction and Justin Bieber came along. Isn’t Harry Styles like…12? (And even if you do like them, you’re young enough to love it and old enough not to care, hello Taylor Swift, looking at you)
- “Crafty” discounts: A “Young Person’s Rail Card” might say 25 and under on it, but you know that if you renew at the right time you can get the discounts well into age 26; plus stuff like European Inter-railing passes actually legit go up to and include age 26
- Knowing your mind a teeny bit more: You’ve had quite some time to peruse all those blogs about feminism and/or other issues you find interesting and decided whether to get properly involved or not – or at least, decided what you think enough to have a sort-of discussion about it
- Absolutely no desire to relive Uni: You’ve graduated – quite literally – on to other conversations than that HILARIOUS time that Hugo did that vodka thing in “first year” and when Sarah got locked out of her second-year house wearing only a tiara and her pants. First year? That’s seven years ago now. MOVE. ON.
- Conversation stopper: No-one really cares about where you went to Uni anymore, and the ones that really do serve as a helpful indicator of whether you can be bothered to get to know them (tip: nope)
- Finding your happy limits: You’re getting better at judging when to stop on a night out. Six cocktails down and holding your heels in your hand because you can’t feel your feet anymore? Um, how about some hot-buttered toast, tea and gossip in the kitchen, plus a litre of water and a sensible rehydration salt packet before bed (and if you don’t want to wear high-heels, you just don’t. Fair play to anyone who does but wow, I’m done)?
- Respecting yourself…most of the time You’ve got the one-night stand thing down, if you like that sort of thing – you’re either always at yours or at theirs, but you’re big enough to know that whatever you say goes, and if not, you’ll pass thanks. ALSO – smear tests and STI tests, GET THEM DONE. It’s really not a big deal, I promise
- Pets: You’ve either bought your own pet or know someone who has, and you get to have dog or cat time without being nagged to go walk it or feed it by your mother
- Cooking: You have at least one or two great recipes that come out time and time again, but your friends are still only having “dinner parties” once in a turquoise moon, so it still impresses when you rustle it up instead of ordering pizza
- The world is your Oyster (card): You’re still young enough to have A LOAD of stuff left to do and learn and see and achieve which is simultaneously completely terrifying and totally exhilarating.
But the absolute BEST thing!? You’re well on your way to not giving three shits about what anyone else thinks. Remember, the people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind.
Twenty-five. You’re going to love it.