"Childhood is Short and Maturity is Forever" - Calvin
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
It's my 20th birthday tomorrow.
In the weeks leading up to this milestone I've experienced an ebb and flow of emotions - fluctuating between complete apathy and paralysing fear. There's something so daunting about entering your third decade of life - I can't help but feel that time will move unnervingly fast after this. I've been assured by many older than me that this is simply not the case:
"Oh my goodness you're a baby!"
"I remember when I was 20 ..."
"If you think 20 is bad ... JESUS! Wait till you're 35!"
All of these would be convincing arguments if the people advocating them to me weren't at the same time holding back tears. It's a look that I've suddenly become very astute at noticing - the flicker in their eyes that says "oh shit, welcome to the club".
I'm not going to lie - I thought my life would be cooler at 20. In my mid teens I couldn't wait till the day I'd suddenly be living in a one-bed apartment with "art" hanging on the walls. I'd escape the constant nagging of my well-intentioned mother, saunter in and out of med school (because it would be really easy and I would be really smart), not to mention my well developed, french girl aesthetic.
Fast forward five-ish years and you know what, I can safely say I've half-achieved all my outlandish childhood fantasies. I live in one room in a dormitory with a roommate that makes me want to scratch out my eyeballs. I call my mother constantly and take extreme personal objection when she does not pick up the phone. I am studying medicine; however the nonchalant sauntering I aspired for has somewhat evaded me - I'm running around like some sort of permanently stressed and slightly disoriented pigeon. And instead of a classy, soigné, laissez- faire frenchwoman, I have ended up looking like a French girl that accidentally ate every single croissant ever.
I couldn't help but think that my childhood had passed me by - that I'd never really done anything stereotypically "teenage". The first half of my twenties will be spent in full time education and from then on I'll enter the workforce as a clinician where, to quote my work experience doctor, "A small piece of your soul will die every day ".
So, balls deep in this personal crisis, I decided that I should commemorate my teenage years and do something crazy; go out with a bang and have something to show for these years of my life where I was supposed to be reckless - something more interesting than setting up an ISA at the age of 16. So I designed a tattoo. Picked out all the colours, the fonts, everything. Found the nearest tattoo parlour on google maps, ran (walked) up to the entrance and saw my reflection in the glass door. Smiled, opened the door ...
walked back out, shut the door and ran (walked) as fast as I could back to my dorm.
Guys listen. I'm all for recklessness but a tattoo? Who do I think I am? Post Malone?
In the days that followed I thought a lot about my life so far (#retrospective) and came to the conclusion that I have always been like this. Optimistic. Disgustingly optimistic. I've always believed that at some point down the road things get better, even when all signs clearly point to no. Now there are two ways of looking at this:
1. It's resilient
2. It's naive
I mean it as a self drag, not a humble brag. In some ways, having blind optimism has helped me immeasurably while growing up; as demonstrated by my four wishes above they have, if not quite how I intended, all been granted no matter how long or how arduous the journey was. I'd consider myself lucky.
Conversely, constantly hoping that things will improve can quite often lead to heartbreak when they either take a long time, or simply don't happen at all. But if there's one thing I've learnt about myself it's that I. Do. Not. Give. A. Shit. I will always believe that things will get better, whether it's to my detriment or not. So I have set up this blog in order to look back on in another 20 years and hopefully see that my disgusting optimism did eventually pay off.
In the meantime, I'm going to be really fucking specific with my birthday wishes tomorrow.