This summer I experienced (or survived) my first wedding season. It was a whirlwind month, not only brimming with joy, confetti and ASOS-induced bankruptcy, but loaded with “what’s new with you?” questions that accompany being reunited with old friends, sitting next to your parents’ neighbours, or small talk with an old flame in a conga line.
One hazard that comes with free alcohol – alongside inappropriate flirting with the DJ at 1am – is the limitless scope for toasts. From visas to pregnancies to dogs to promotions, we were celebrating big news left right and centre when it dawned on me that I didn’t have any. I was, one might say, “news-less.” So as not to alarm anyone with my distinct lack of progress in life, I declared my biggest achievement was minesweeping table wine like a secret agent whilst discretely rearranging my underwear. But in that moment I felt a pang of self-doubt, which got me thinking about what it means to be in a quiet period in life, and whether we put too much pressure on ourselves to always have something to envy.
Social media timelines are all about special news (at least when they’re not about nuclear war) and we’re at risk of believing we’re failing if we have nothing to compare. I was caught off guard this summer, because I’m not planning a wedding, or getting a pug. I have no idea how my career will pan out, hell, I barely feel grown-up enough to use scissors without adult supervision. A voice inside my head whispers, “even Fake News is better than no news.” On reflection though, now I’ve escaped the barn conversions and am back in the safety net of London, a city teeming with lost twenty-somethings searching for the perfect coffee shop and a true sense of self, “no news” doesn’t mean we’re failing, or boring, or falling off the radar. For me right now, the classic saying rings true: no news is good news.
This summer I stopped asking myself every five minutes why I haven’t made it and gave myself a break. To see more friends, get more sleep, maybe even pluck my eyebrows. When I look back at the news I’ve shared in the last year, the things that stand out to me are writing and performing my first play (maybe worthy of a toast but alongside a full-time job it nearly finished me off), sticking to vegetarianism (let’s face it, that’s more boring than unseasoned tofu) and seeing Celine Dion live for the first time (pretty niche and cost me a week’s wages).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely when life is flourishing, time is flying by and you’ve a million Facebook updates to share, but I’ve realised it doesn’t necessarily make me any happier. So I’ve stopped waiting for the next big thing, because the things that make me happiest are much smaller, or gone in an instant. Like a perfectly ripe satsuma without a pip in sight. Or finding a sun cream that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve been wrapped in cling film. And my greatest achievements? Shaving my legs without maiming my ankles, or simply not burning anything in the kitchen, obviously.
So I’m proposing my own toast. To having no news – but a lot of things to celebrate. Things which might form our every day but which are every bit as special. Because what I’m learning is, if we spend our days waiting for the next big thing, we might miss the moments that really count.