an unedited diary entry:
I’ve just finished reading a memoir. Specifically, Robert Webb’s ‘How Not to be a Boy’, though I don’t suppose that matters. I am about to turn 25 in, oh, three minutes. Technically. Although I am mid-way through a flight to New York so I’m not entirely sure what time zone I’m in and what counts as my birthday.
I digress. I am alone in every sense of the word. I am physically alone (even the annoying woman I was seated next to for take-off has moved), and I am single. I am twenty-five (exactly, it’s midnight now) and single.
And I’ve just read a memoir, which has me thinking, amongst other things, what the bloody hell I would write in a memoir at this point. The vast majority of Robert Webb’s book takes place over the course of his childhood, teens, and university years, though it is fair to say that it could not have been written without the perspective he has seemingly gained with age and experience. Nonetheless, should I have a book’s worth of Life by now?
It might be more pertinent to write this on waking up tomorrow morning, properly 25, but tomorrow morning I won’t have another three hours left to kill on a plane. I have been answering the question ‘how old are you’ with ’25’ or ’25, well, nearly’ or some variation of that for the entirety of September, but hadn’t given much thought to what, if anything that number means to me or anyone else. 25 both does and does not ‘seem that old’ to me. Most of my friends are older than I am by years, but also twenty-five is the oldest I’ve ever been.
I am often, I think, self-conscious about age because of my older friends and the fact that whatever I say about 25, they have already felt it. They’ve been there, done that, got the badge, blown out the candles, etc. I also feel self-conscious because I know that at the end of the day a person’s age means largely nothing, besides a vague (but sometimes inaccurate) indicator of the amount of Life Experience they have.
As I write now I remember Millie telling me that 25 was the birthday that she had an age-related breakdown about. I have, when talking about my upcoming 25th, been saying to friends and acquaintances that 25 feels scary because I can no longer be good at something ‘for my age’. Unless I become Prime Minister, or something. In my field, however, people are achieving YOUNG as hell; as far as blogging or ~influencing goes, I am ancient.
So I suppose 25 is bringing with it a sort of identity crisis, but one I can see very clearly, almost like an out of body experience. Maybe all that therapy (and time left alone to think on solo flights) is paying off, ha.
Is it interesting that one of the first things I wrote was ’25 and single’, because I have not given any thought to that as a concept til now. I don’t mind being single, I quite like it a lot of the time, actually, and I have no real desire to settle down yet. But I do know that buried in my head like a fucking tick is the idea that my parents, who are still together, met when they were around my age, and that everyone around me seems to be getting engaged or married (well, both most of the time). Though my rational brain is fighting with all its might the idea that new lover = potential life partner, that is sometimes quite a hard fight.
I’ve had a few weeks to settle into 25 and ultimately it doesn’t feel much different. Being a September baby and thus having my birthday coincide with what was once the start of the school year, I subconsciously or sometimes consciously find myself making premature new year’s resolutions on entering each new year of my life. This year: read and write more; do something for work other than run this blog (more on that later, perhaps); trust myself; talk about how I feel with everyone I have any kind of friendship or relationship with, but also get better at keeping my cards to my chest when necessary. Be less naive and stop expecting the best from people.
Stop expecting the best from people. This could be viewed as a step backwards into pessimism, but instead I think that applying my brand of cynicism to people I meet and even people I know already, rather than just strangers and intangible things, will stand me in better stead to meet and hold on to the genuinely good ones. I trust too much. It isn’t about coldness, it is actually maybe even about being nicer and kinder, but warier.
25 and single. Being single is invaluable for personal growth, I think. It gives you time to reflect not just on past relationships, but also on yourself as a being outside the context of someone else. I don’t think I change drastically from relationship to relationship (save for the added trauma here and there lol!) but I think I become better at being myself, and being there for myself, when I don’t have one person to depend on to be there for me.
I won’t be donning a purity ring for my 25th year, but I don’t want to be in a relationship because it seems more comfortable than the alternative, and I don’t want to be in a relationship because I quite like them and they’ve asked me twice and I’m scared of saying no. I’m going to be there for myself first.
photos by Zac Mahrouche, from my birthday do (which he attended as a pal I didn’t just make him come and take photos of me bowling I promise)