I am rapidly approaching my twenty-fifth birthday and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Back in sixth form, at the age of 17 or so, I had a conversation with a close friend about how we both wanted to be married by 25, so we could have a few years with our respective partners before popping out a baby just before we turned thirty. Now that I’m actually close to 25 the very idea of getting married at this age scares me shitless. I’m not grown up enough for any of that, and it occurs to me how different my life is now from what I imagined back then.
|Here’s that ridiculous picture of me in the Dordogne with a bottle of vodka because I love it even if it’s not flattering; I just look so happy.|
I had grand plans to become immersed in the my BA in Ancient History (tick), do a masters (errr half-tick, long story), a PhD (hahaha nope) and go abroad and become a university professor and write important sounding papers on things very few people care about (a pretty obvious nope). Even more telling is that I now don’t think I would have been very happy with that life. I couldn’t have imagined my current life back then, and university certainly wasn’t what I expected. What everyone said would be the happiest years of my life turned out to be the loneliest. I learnt a lot in my years in Birmingham, both about the ancient world and about the nastier sides of human nature. I learnt that I am not infallible and have many weaknesses, some of which I’ve embraced and some I’m working to improve.
That conversation about the future is a particularly vivid and happy memory. My best friend and I, drinking lemonade in my slightly scruffy back garden in the summer holidays before we both went away to university for the first time. We were both basking in the sunshine and the excitement of finally flying the nest. We both had plans that never materialised, intentions never fully realised and dreams that are still out of reach. We talked about a semi-ridiculous holiday trekking across Mongolia on horseback, despite that fact that neither of us could ride. We were very young, very naive and very happy. We’re still all those things, but perhaps a little wiser.
I look back on who I was five, ten and fifteen years ago and she seems much the same as who I am now. I might know more about the world, and perhaps even be a little bitter about a few things, but at my core I’m still that child who just wanted to read books and swim. I don’t read as many books (who has the time?) and I only swim on holiday (again, time!) but I still get excited about particularly big bubbles in the sink, want to travel the world and speaks in songs when I’m happy. I’m fairly happy with who I am; I’d like to let go of some of that bitterness and my few regrets, I’d like to stop worrying about things I can’t control and I’d like to spontaneously develop some willpower, but honestly, that’s fine. There will always be aspects of my personality that I don’t like but I ain’t done cooking yet, and there’s still work to do on the lifelong project that is me.