I was in a really weird place in January, as most people are, you know the score. You’re on a pretty excruciating mince pie come-down, puddles stop being reflective pools of Christmas light and love and start being pools of potential hypothermia, the pressure of a new beginning manifests itself in one failed attempt at a run and one rather more successful attempt at becoming an alcoholic.
At the beginning of this year, unsure of where I was, where I wanted to be, and how I could get there, I distinctly remember catching sight of myself in the reflection of an escalator and noticing I have a wonky mouth. And to me, this signalled everything in my life was a bit off-balance. I’ve always been someone who’s been pretty sure of what I was looking for in life (a job I love, real love, Antonio Banderas’ phone number…) and half way up that escalator I felt more than a bit lost with not nearly enough boxes ticked.
I don’t feel like it’s a coincidence that I started writing at that time, when my confidence and direction was at its lowest. And as I’ve been writing, and sharing, and most commonly over-sharing, whilst I’ve loved making you lot laugh at my various dilemmas, a lot of what I’ve been writing about has still come from that place of struggle, confusion, worry, fear. And obviously sometimes just hunger pains. As anyone who’s been following this blog knows, at the beginning of this year I set myself the equally minute and infinite and completely irrational aim of becoming a real life grown up by my 25th birthday, and amidst all the other dilemmas I’ve been facing (the most recent one being the amount of hair that somehow seems to get into the washing machine and tangled up in my tights) it’s suddenly swept up on me without warning.
Way back when at the beginning of the year I saw September as two things. Firstly, it was the month I would turn 25, and in my own eyes, had to take certain steps towards adulthood and stop running away. Secondly, it would mark a full year since I made a pretty life-changing decision to take time out from real life, to re-evaluate everything, to find change. I’m looking at September now and it means completely different things. It marks four months since my last pay-check. It’s the last time I need to pay the rent in my Clapham flat before I move in with Eduardo. It’s definitely time I got a haircut. Oh, and not forgetting my first smear test.
My birthday has always felt simultaneously like an end and a beginning. For over a decade, marking the end of the summer holidays and the start of a new school year, it was both birthday and doomsday. Last year I left full-time work the day before my birthday, and despite spending a picture perfect day with my favourite people, I remember being distinctly anxious, guilty and afraid at what would come next. That pressure I felt then, and again at the start of 2015, the pressure to know myself, to find direction, to get happy, has stayed with me all year. And because of that this year has been hard. Turns out you can’t pay rent with what’s left on your Oyster card no matter how hard you try. Who knew?
This year has also been pretty special. I’ve worked on what feels like a bazillion shows and festivals with some of the most inspiring, talented, creative, special, unique people I could wish to know, up to and including all 30 four-year olds in one Christmas nativity and one donkey who didn’t make it on stage. And it’s those experiences that mean now, as I look ahead, smear-test and all, I’m excited about the future. Obviously I still feel scared. I mean, how big is the speculum? But one of the things I’ve discovered on this rollercoaster journey is that I don’t function well unless I have some kind of fear. It motivates, challenges, inspires me.
It’s now a week before I turn 25 and I just started a new job, at a company I could only have dreamed of this time a year ago. I feel braver now. I still have a long way to go but I’m happy with the road I’m on. And I’m happy knowing that an element of catastrophe runs in my veins and makes me who I am. So does playfulness, laughter, a lot of love and a little bit too much sugar. As the big day approaches (it genuinely is a big day, my friend is getting married), instead of ending my last blog post as a 24-year old on a tragic note, with the knowledge that I still look like a teenager and get my knickers in a twist on a daily basis, I wanted to celebrate the things I’m holding onto tight. In a year where I’ve been actively searching for change, in myself, my surroundings, (my hair, always), there are some things I don’t want to end. Or that maybe just won’t ever leave me…
So it’s just fine to be turning 25 and…
Ask three friends in one week to feel their boobs and compare them to yours so you know yours are normal.
To wake up in the morning feeling so tired you try to straighten your hair with Netflix.
To not listen to anyone when they tell you your hair doesn’t look that much like Mufasa after a blowdry and just keep straightening.
To listen to ‘The Face of Voldemort’ from the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone every day on your way to work just to put things into perspective.
To contemplate not moving in with your boyfriend when you ask for a dog and he replies with, “No, Emma, but there’s an ant colony under the recycling bin you can have.”
To base your final decision on moving in together on the fact he agreed to buy a pink Hetty hoover to be your Henry hoover’s girlfriend.
To not have fixed everything.
To still not like wine. Or blue cheese.
To not-so-secretly wish that one day you will wake up and be in F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
To believe more than ever before that croissants are the meaning of life.
And on that note thanks for reading and for sticking with me on this wild little road, my gorgeous readers (all five of you…) and for not outing me after the period blog. Here’s to more chaos in my next quarter-of-a-century. LOVE AND LAUGHTER XXX