Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Starter for 10

Bali. Sunrise.

In exactly two weeks I turn 28.

Somehow 28 feels like a big deal. Maybe because this year will mark a decade since I left school, or started university, or embarked on the relationship that defined a large chunk of my life.

But I think really, it's a big deal because 28 is when I thought I'd become a proper GROWN-UP. I remember so clearly being 14 or 15, and planning my life in that way you do when you have no concept of how messy, and complicated, and unexpected life actually is. I thought that by 28 I'd have it all sorted.

I thought I'd get married at 28 (ha!). I thought I'd own a home, have lived abroad, have found the right career, and risen through the ranks of it in miraculous fashion, have travelled the world, seen Macchu Pichu and the statue of Liberty. I thought I'd know all the answers on University Challenge (except maybe the maths ones - I was delusional but not that delusional).

I thought that by 28, I'd have all the answers.

And I don't, of course. Some things I did achieve - I've seen the sun rise in Bali and set in the Caribbean, I've been inside 10 Downing Street, and Buckingham Palace. I've watched ice-skaters in Central Park, and eaten thousands of pounds worth of caviar in a Turkish luxury hotel where everything was covered in gold. I left home and small-town life far behind. I live abroad.

But the answers I do have now are not the ones I anticipated. The wisdom I've accrued is not helpful on University Challenge.

This is what I would tell 14-year-old me:

 - 28 is still young. So there.
 - Small town life really isn't that bad. Turns out you might even miss it one day
 - Other people aren't as scary as you think they are
 - There are worse things in the world than making a fool of yourself
 - You're beautiful, even though you don't think you are, because you're young
 - Having said that, step away from the Amethyst Shimmer lipstick. Immediately
 - The friends you have now will be even more important to you in adult life - be nice to them
 - You never stop being embarrassed by your family. But it kind of stops mattering
 - You're tougher than you think. One way or another, you can survive most things
 - That's useful, because sometimes shit just doesn't work out how you want it to
 - One day you will actually go to a party Leonardo di Caprio is also attending. He won't be as angelic looking c.2012 as he was c.1997. But you'll still be pretty freaking excited


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