This week, I turned 28.
I’m creeping ever closer to 30 – and my dad took great pleasure in reminding me of the fact when I last visited home (love ya too, dad).
If I don’t think about it, it makes no difference. I feel the same, look (kinda) the same. I’m pretty happy in my day-to-day. Life goes on.
If I do stop to think about it? Damn. I only have about seven years (or two, depending on which media outlet you choose to believe) before my fertility levels rapidly decline, but I don’t even have a boyfriend and I couldn’t get a mortgage even if I wanted one and I want to see the world but when will I fit that in and how will I pay for it when I owe slightly more than I’d care to admit on a credit card which has funded a cross-country move, wardrobe updates, a couple of holidays and possibly the odd “bugger it, I’ll eat out even though I’m skint” Caribbean dinner?
To put it bluntly, I’m not where I thought I’d be at 28.
I grew up with a young mum. She got hitched to my dad at 19 and was just 22 when she gave birth to her first child – me. It was all my mum ever wanted to do. Get married, have kids and do her bit to support her family. Job’s a good ‘un.
Even now, at 28, I know I’m not ready for that.
One day, sure. But right now? I’m still finding my feet in London. I’m way more independent than my wildest dreams ever let me believe I could be. I eat out (and it’s very VERY rarely on my credit card, I promise) and cook good meals for myself. I go to gigs and festivals spontaneously and sometimes alone. I get up early to run and lift heavy things. I work full-time and run a business on the side – and have another project in the pipeline. I see my friends. I take dance classes. Etc. Etc.
I’m just getting to know myself. Where would another human being fit into that process?
The blunt truth is that I ain’t ready to give all of that up. But the idea of leaving love ’til later scares me a bit.
I always felt cool in school because my mum was so young. (I know that sounds silly but please, allow me my one cool thing. You haven’t seen my primary-school self.) It’s superficial as hell and it didn’t make her a better mum than any of my friends’ (although she’s mine and I love her and she’s obviously the best), but I liked it. She was, and still is, relatable and funny and she liked (some of) the same music as me. And I always figured I’d do almost the same as she did. I’d settle down by 25, have a brood of little ones by 30, max. Instead, I’ve muddled my way through my twenties and effectively wasted time.
Or have I?
I spent the majority of my twenties in a serious relationship. We were each other’s best friend. We lived together. We had a dog together. We did most things together. And even though the relationship didn’t last, I wouldn’t change it for the world. He was, and still is, one of the people on this planet for whom I have the most time. He knew me better than anyone and taught me about myself and the world and why it can sometimes suck. He taught me about nature and seeing the world in a more unconventional light. And he showed me how it’s possible to be treated by a guy. (FYI, I will forever blame him for my disappointment since entering the world of dating. High expectations and all that.)
I don’t have a boyfriend/potential future baby-daddy right now. But then again, I don’t have many friends who are coupled up. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, and it doesn’t mean I’ll settle. If it takes another ten years (kinda hoping it won’t, but hey, life likes curve balls), so be it. Ain’t no rushing going on around here… honest. (*prays that friends don’t reveal my flailing boy-related texts and that my Moleskine’s contents aren’t leaked onto the interwebs*)
As for what I’m doing with my life, I’m in transition. For more than the first half of my twenties, I pursued a “calling” which ultimately made me miserable. I thought being a teacher was the “right thing.” I love children. It made sense. Stopping the car at the side of the road so I could sob into the steering wheel on my way to work one day was possibly my tipping point. Six years’ hard slog down the drain? Or six years spent figuring out who I am, what I stand for and where my limits lie? Now I’ve come full-circle and I’m back to the thing that made me feel at home even as a kid: writing. It’s not easy. It’s taking time and effort and a ton of (sometimes near-impossible-to-muster) self-encouragement. But finally feeling like I’m doing the right thing for me? Kinda incomparable, to be honest.
Nothing I’ve done has been a waste of time.
Life is scary and wonderful and exciting and unpredictable. It can be heartbreaking and it can feel blessed and sometimes we’re in control and sometimes we’re not. Shit happens. As do the most heart-flutteringly beautiful of things. Stuff usually works out differently than we thought it would – for the better or for the worse. Roll with it, my friend. Everything will be OK in the end. That’s what I like to believe. That’s what I hold on to.