Tuesday 11 July 2017 / London, UK

Birthday Reflections: Why It's Okay To Be A Little Lost

There's something about Birthday's that always make you reflect. It was all fun and games when I turned the big 1-8 and 2-1, but there's just something not so exciting about turning the not-so-big 2-4. Turning 18 saw me count down the days until I could finally get into Tiger Tiger (if you know, you know) without having to borrow my older sister's only curly haired friends I.D and having an internal panic attack every time I so much as made eye contact with a bouncer and tbh the only reason I was excited about turning 21, was so I could feel like a legit adult when I flew off to California that Summer and was old enough to drink and gamble in Vegas (even if I had no idea what the bloody hell I was doing). But fast forward 3 years and I'm struggling to even remember my 22nd and 23rd Birthdays. I can only assume that this is the way Birthdays will be from now on...suddenly waking up in a mild panic about how I'm about to turn another year older and still feel like I'm yet to achieve anything. Because let's face it, 24 is an awkward age. 3 years since your last exciting milestone of a Birthday and a good 6 years away from the next, you can't help but have that lingering and overpowering feeling that you're so not 18 anymore and are approaching 25 faster than you can say quarter life crisis, yet on the other hand still feel like your Mum should accompany you to your doctor's appointments.

I was laying in bed the other night having one of those pre-Birthday panics about the prospect of turning 24 and spending my 24th consecutive Birthday single and I gotta admit,  I had a moment of weakness about having to spend the night of my 24th Birthday at home...in my family bed...with no accompanying big spoon. It shouldn't bother me, but the truth is it did. I felt like a failure for reaching age 24 and not spending my Birthday eve in bed with my other half with a flat of my own  in my own bedroom (lets get real, I live in London, not Leicester). This triggered a whole wave of overthinking and suddenly before I knew it, I went into panic mode about every aspect of my life not being "good enough", or rather, not being where I expected it to be by now. I don't know what I was expecting, but I just couldn't shake this feeling that this wasn't exactly it. So after a little cry, I did what I always do when I need cheering up and messaged the group chat, in dire need of some memes and some bloody good advice and my best friend sent me this quote...

"I know people who graduated college at 21 and didn't get a salary job until they were 27. I know people who graduated at 25 and already had a salary job. I know people who have children and are single, I know people who are married and had to wait 8-10 years to be parents. I know people who are in relationship and love someone else, I know people who love each other and aren't together. There are people waiting to love and be loved. My point is, everything in life happens according to our time, our clock. You may look at your friends and some may seem to be ahead or behind you, but they are not, they are living accordingly to the pace of their clock, so be patient. You are not falling behind, it's just not your time." 

At that moment in time, I really, really needed to hear that. I needed to be told that it was okay to panic, it was okay to compare and that it was okay to feel dissatisfied with where my life seems to be heading in this exact moment. That's normal. We all do it. No matter how old or young we are and no matter how successful (or unsuccessful) we are, we all panic and freak out from time-to-time and that is okay. The truth is that there is no right or wrong way to do life.
At the end of the day, we're all in it together on this crazy rollercoaster ride of life and trying our best to keep our shit together, whilst all trying so desperately hard not to fall off the track.
Even if life were to have a set of instructions, they would be Ikea instructions anyway...impossible to follow and utter shite.
Because the gospel honest trust is that nobody has their shit together, regardless of their age.
Not even Beyonce.
(okay maybe Beyonce).
That 24 year-old 'Instagram girl' who I religiously stalk every morning in bed whilst attempting to drag my ass out of bed to slog to my 9-5 who seemingly has her shit together with her soulmate, her lustworthy travels, her baby, her engagement and dream house. Wanna know something? Not even she has her shit together.

We live in a society where now more than ever before, there are possibilities to compare ourselves to others our age at any second of the day, through any social media platform we desire. Facebook becomes a pool of jealousy-induced bitchy screenshots of "OMG she's engaged now as well?" and "how the hell has he bought a house already, he only got a job a year ago?!". Sunday mornings become an unhealthy ritual of frantically checking everyones Snapchat stories to see if they've had a better or wilder Saturday night than you have and Instagram is well Instagram...we all know that this is the numero uno guilty culprit for comparison. Where we use Snapchat and Facebook for stalking those we went to school or uni with, Instagram takes comparison to a whole other level; a far deeper level, as it exposes us to a whole world of successful millennials who are becoming just that little bit more un-relatable with every upload. When there are people your age travelling the world on a seemingly bottomless pit of money, it makes you question what the hell you're doing wrong. Why can I only afford my one Thomson package holiday a year which still has me getting heart palpitations every time my credit card statement falls through my letterbox? When there are people your age that are engaged and proud home owners, of course it makes you question why the hell you are still frantically swiping your way through the men of North London whilst tucked up in your bed at home with your Mum fast asleep in the next room. When there are people your age who have already had 3 jobs since graduating and have already been flown out to other countries with their companies, of course it leaves you squirming in your office chair wondering when the hell you're gonna figure out what job you wanna do for the rest of your life.
But the problem is, comparison will contribute absolutely nothing to your life apart from feeding further into those existing insecurities and doubts of yours and I am finally starting to realise this. Comparing yourself to others won't get you your dream job. It just won't. You can idolise those more successful in their careers than you and use them as ammo for motivation to get where you want to be, yes and you can use them as inspirational figures to motivate you, but the moment you use them to tear yourself down, will only leave you feeling more dissatisfied with your own life. That girl from your uni class may now be on her third promotion and may seemingly be heading for a budding and successful career in publishing, but have you actually sat down with her and asked her if he's happy, truly happy? That guy from your school year who now owns a 3 bed house in Essex with his girlfriend, have you actually thought that he may be regretting that crippling mortgage and wishing he could just fuck off to Amsterdam with his mates for the weekend without worrying about whether he's paid this months electricity bill or not? And that girl who's currently backpacking the South-East of Asia having the absolute time of her life, have you ever thought that maybe she's homesick and may be craving a sense of normality or regretting that declined job offer? My point is, that you never truly know what's going on in somebody's life and you never truly know what's going on behind closed doors, so comparison is all good and well, but do you actually know what you're comparing yourself to? 

So although it's taken me a while and it's certainly something that won't happen overnight, I am finally beginning to reject this ideology of what my life should be like at 24 in my head and am beginning to learn to trust the timing of my life and to embrace the instability and randomness of it all, rather than exhausting myself attempting to fight and control it all the time. And tomorrow I turn 24 and I feel okay with where my life is headed. Yes, tomorrow I will be waking up on my Birthday with a rather large credit card debt hanging over my head, but who gives a shit because I'm going to Miami in 8 weeks and that's worth every penny of that debt right now. Tomorrow I will be waking up to no good morning text or a Birthday message from a partner, but I will be waking up to messages from my best friends and that's worth more than one good morning text ever will be. Tomorrow I will be waking up in my childhood home, but who cares because I am mortgage free and living in the best city in the world, so I guess living at home's not the end of the world after all, is it?

So yes, I'm single and no, I'm not working my dream job and yes, I still live at home and depend on my credit card more than I'd like to, but I have a bloody good life. I travel often and well. I am surrounded by loving family and I have the closest friends who have been there for me far more than any man ever has. And at the end of the day, I'm only 20 bloody 4. 24...that's it. I've still got a whole lotta life in me yet! I may be approaching the end of that 16-25 railcard expiry date quicker than expected, but that's ok. Being 24 and still unsure of where my life is heading is ok. No, I may not own a cottage like I dreamed I would do by 24, but in my 23 years I've loved, laughed and experienced far more than I ever could have dreamed I would and although I may not have achieved anything remotely close to what other 24 year olds have done, I'm finally beginning to learn to be ok with that. 

Some 24 year olds are Mothers and some 24 year olds still live with their Mothers. Some 24 year olds are still in full-time education and some 24 year olds own their own business. Some 24 year olds are travelling the world and some 24 year olds have never left the country. Neither is right or wrong. 

Screw the expectations and screw the comparisons. I've had a bloody good 23 years and I'm excited for whatever the future holds, whenever it has it in store for me....

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