Today, I’m a 29-year-old hunched over her laptop in the heart of Clapham Common, exposed to the try-hard sunrays and the gusts of wind for which her short shorts are wholly unsuited (heatwave’s over, yo), listening to Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt and chomping on Tesco’s pineapple fingers (OBSESSED).
Two weeks from today, I’ll be a 30-year-old set on spending four hours of her birthday on trains so she can drink to the dawn of a new decade with three of her oldest friends in the north of England.
Between now and then, there’s a lot of important stuff I want to remind myself of. Because there’s so much I neglect to remember every day, so many thought spirals I fall into, so much overthinking and overworrying and overstressing about the inevitable passing of time and my lack of any semblance of a plan.
Because not having a plan is OK.
That’s the first lesson. The first of a few more to come. The first thing I know for sure, yet the thing I forget day after day after day.
Did I plan on being a nanny at 30? Erm… if you look back at the goals of 15-year-old me, you’ll see that ‘actress’ and ‘journalist’ were legit dreams (ahhh, what it is to dream). While I ADORE having two little pals who make me laugh on the school-run every day, this isn’t where I planned to be. Did I plan on being single at 30? Well, it wasn’t what I pictured. Did the Sex & The City gals make being single in your thirties look like the best party in town? Pretty much. But did I ever think I’d be a guest at that party? Nope. Nope, I did not. Was it ever in my imaginary life plan to move to South London and spend my days coffee-drinking, road-running, yoga mat-dwelling, park-picnicking and sober-dancing, both solo and with the wildest, most wondrous of folk? No. Two years ago, I didn’t even like coffee, and I once thought I’d live in Yorkshire my whole life.
My twenties have been a mess of highs and lows and loud thoughts and lonely moments (don’t believe all that Instagram tells you), and I have this hope that 30 will bring with it a sense of calm and knowing and being rooted to a space in life for the first time… However, given that my life has failed to follow any sort of predetermined direction so far, I can’t imagine the rest of my years on this spinning lump of rock will be much different. These next two weeks until 30 hits likely won’t reveal some great secret to figuring it all out. All I can do in the space between now and 30 (plus when I actually hit 30, and then for the rest of eternity) is go with the flow. Keep getting jazzed at the prospect of more living, more learning, more freaking out, more fooling around, more finding out cool things about the world and my place in it and all the people inhabiting it with me.
Not everything has to be planned to the nth degree. Not everything will go how we thought it would when we were 12 and our perception of grown-ups was one of totally together people who knew exactly what living meant. Turns out, not even 52-year-olds have that luxury (according to my mum, at least). It’s all just a fun experiment, this thing we call life, in which we throw different careers and cities at the wall to see what sticks. And I’m becoming more and more convinced that that’s actually the coolest flipping thing.