This post began in the corner of the library I used to spend every rainy Saturday in as a pre-teen, hiding in a beanbag for hours, buried in Noughts and Crosses, or the gospel truth that was Jacqueline Wilson. I tell ya what, times have changed. Not only does my library now have a lovely lime green decor – presumably because the council are insane – but it’s now home to what seems like one thousand pensioners trying to work out how to create a Gmail account on one of the old computers.
I’m somewhat relieved and encouraged to see the library is open at all but it is definitely not the place to get lost in a book anymore – or write a post on ’13 ways peppermint tea has revolutionised my life’. So that’s today’s life plan over. Peppermint tea is yet to reach the New Forest, alongside tasteful colour schemes and phone signal.
Perhaps it’s because the library is situated next to Clarks shoe store – if I so much as think of how much I miss the little kids’ feet measurer I start crying from nostalgia – but being back home has made me realise just how far away my life is now from where I came from. I’m not an 11-year old book worm anymore. I’m 25-years old and without a growing shoe size to effectively measure my progression in life I’m just a little bit lost.
But I’m trying to find myself.
Aside from thinking about chocolate, my number one pastime in life is trying to make sense of my life and where I’m going – overthinking everything from people to pasta shapes to pension plans. But every time I stop daydreaming about Hogwarts and start looking at the “real world” more often than not I get a little sad. Because from where I’m standing it ain’t that pretty.
So I really (really really wanna zig-a-zig ah) want to scribble lots of feelings down about what it’s like to be 25-years old today, in 2016. Whilst I’m definitely not trying to speak for every twenty-something, I do feel like we’re all in it together, except for Taylor Swift maybe, but even she can’t escape a smear test. It’s important to me that I get to chat about this stuff because more often than not everyone seems to be speaking over me. They’re talking about savings accounts and student loans and career plans and first time buyer schemes and the “future of my generation.”
Really? Is that what my life is going to turn out to be?
I’m trying very hard to listen, to pay attention, to act concerned, but I’m extremely unfocussed on planning out the rest of my life because I recently watched this video of a bear jumping into a paddling pool and my future doesn’t seem to matter anymore if it doesn’t include my own pet bear.
That’s what it’s like being 25, a faux grown-up. Deeply confusing because no-one wants to give a flying fuck about ISAs but we care an awful lot about sloths that look like pain au chocolats.
There is a part of me that is worried every day about things it feels I have very little control over. Disability benefits have been cut again. Donald Trump said what? Will there be any trees left in the Amazon, say, by the time I pay off my student loan? Really, women still aren’t paid as much as men? Why are people so afraid of the word ‘feminism’? Military dolphins are a thing. Harry Styles has just been cast in a film. Tampon tax, tampon tax, tampon tax. Celine Dion is grieving. How much hair has to come out when you brush it before it’s officially alopecia? What does an abnormal smear result mean and does it get any worse being a girl?
We’re not in Kansas anymore…
Alongside what feels like about 90% of all girls born in 1990 my name is Emma. The rest us are probably called either Lucy, Hannah, Elizabeth or Jessica and the fact that none of our parents decided to branch out when deciding on names means that we all need to fight that little bit harder to be heard.
That’s the number one lesson you learn as a twenty-something these days: you’ve got to work damn hard to make it. Also – and this is where the real pain lies if you’re a 90s kid – everything you dream of doing Mary-Kate and Ashley already did. (Twice. Because there’s two of them.)
This battle to “make it” or “be something” is problematic because whilst we’re always being told how lucky we are that we have the choice to be anything we want to be, this can be overwhelming and destructive, leaving us confused, unmotivated, wracked with guilt, or completely off-balance.
Which is why one day we can wake up feeling devastated because we hate the government and other times we cry over a stringy avocado. It’s also dangerous because feeling like you’re on the wrong track leads to irresponsible decisions such as buying kale, thinking you can pull off leather or falling in a heap on the floor of your parents’ house and berating them for not taking your interest in acrobatics seriously as a child because at least that could have taken you places.
When I’m not running home to reminisce I live in Bromley with my boyfriend Ed, two friends and Ed’s small colony of ants that live on the bedside table. Living on the outskirts of London is lovely because you get the best of both worlds: a healthy balance of countryside and an emergency Primark. This means when you wake up feeling surprisingly blue because it will take you another 72 years of work to pay off your student loan you have the choice of fresh air OR cheap slipper socks as an instant cure.
This world of instant cures, coffee, photographs…instant everything must be why we’re so impatient to get everywhere and fast. Being 25 is demanding a future for right now but getting lost in the questions reality brings. What if my future turns against me or doesn’t include pasta? What is everyone else doing? Should I have picked Chemistry for A Level instead? What if I don’t actually like almond milk? How can we stop people eating all the cows? Do I really want to bring kids into a world where sperm wales are dying because there is too much plastic in the ocean or no NHS? Then again baby Converses are a game-changer…
You see the shit we’re dealing with?
I miss being 11 years-old where my biggest concern was getting Chupa Chups out the vending machine with a flexi-ruler or Leo falling off the raft.
So while we race on down the road to success – whether that’s getting right stuck into adulthood or avoiding it at all costs – either way we end up having breakdowns trying to choose a cereal in the supermarket because the little decisions get left behind in the wake of reality and are so utterly BAFFLING.
There is too much choice.
Weetabix or Coco Pops? Employed or self-employed? Gym or Netflix? Work or travel? Money or creativity? Rent or buy?
It’s this sense of endless possibility and simultaneous futility that forms the gist of what can become a stomach plummeting, butterflying perpetuating, mind numbing journey to adulthood – purely because we live and dream everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
So it’s time for endurance. For retaliation. For strength in numbers. For perspective.
We’re at risk of forgetting that we grew up in the 90s. Simply owning a furby or trying not to get hit by a diablo flying through the playground has got to be worse than arts cuts? Right? Don’t you remember when Paul left S Club? Utter turmoil.
We got this.
It’s time to take a deep breath, watch a video of a baby elephant playing with a ribbon, and move forward. From now on I refuse to sit back and let life pass me by even if this means I act and do the wrong thing – like believing in gluten free crumpets. I’m clumsy enough not to survive on this planet for years and years. If Voldemort doesn’t get me, something will. So I want to make time count. A lot less time worrying, deciding, comparing, overthinking and a lot more time doing, seeing, loving and laughing.
Bring on the rest of 25. I don’t want to feel afraid of my future anymore (except for breast scans). I don’t want to feel angry that the world is being defined for me – I want to be happy with me, my life and have my voice heard.
While I’m making demands I would also enjoy better availability at the creme egg cafe, more roles for women, Harry Potter to be real, almond milk to be cheaper, Japan to stop slaughtering marine life and leggings that aren’t see-through. If that’s not too much to ask.
Tell me what twenty-something’s like for you. I wanna chat. X