First of all – I’d like to apologise if this post is a bit of a downer and incredibly morbid, it’s just something I wanted to get off my chest, and I would love to, as usual, hear your comments at the bottom!
They say that “you’re only as young as you feel”, and “age is just a number”, but this weekend I turned 22 and I feel like I’ve suddenly hit a crossroads in my life. It was my first birthday where, instead of revelling in eating, spending and saying what I liked, I felt a bit subdued. As I gorge the last of the cakes and chocolates as I write, all I can think is how it will go to every area of my body, and why can’t I just have asked for carrots? So far, so healthy, I suppose. Turning 22 is not in any way ‘old’, but it made me realise the inevitability of death, and the fact that I can’t grasp back the youth which is certainly fading.
I’ve spent my whole teenage and adult life reading gossip magazines and following celebrity culture and it never really occurred to me that it wasn’t normal for a 35 year old to look like a fresh-faced 18 year old without a lot of work, healthy eating and money for facials. I discovered my first wrinkles on my forehead a few weeks ago and while obviously they are faint now, they are small shadows of what is to come. I know that I have to start taking care of myself mentally and physically, which has never been a top priority of mine as I have always thought ‘Oh, I’ll worry about it later’. The problem is is that this should be my vital concentration – becoming healthy in both mind and body, as I can’t let myself be controlled by my demons for the rest of my life. The main problem is is that time is NOW, and I still can’t seem to grasp this concept.
I am starting to understand mid-life crises. I watched an episode of Family Guy where Lois (the mother, in case you don’t watch it), reverts back to a pre-adolescent state, trying to recapture the youth she has lost as she embarks in her 40s. I can now understand the fear which engulfs you that you can simply never get your time back. Not everything can be undone, and mistakes I have made in the past few years haunt me much more than they ever would have done when I was 14 and nothing really mattered too much. Now, I don’t want to say that I am haunted with regret, because I am not. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and without the decisions I have made until today I would not be the same person here and now. It’s just that I now recognise that while I try and live in the present, I do have to start now looking towards my future and my goals, and how I can feasibly achieve them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know I am still young, and my mentality and clothes sense are both incredibly middle aged, but I want the calm serenity which comes with adulthood – before I realised that almost no ‘adult’ I actually know is serene or has an easy life. While there are many things I love about ageing – for example, I can eat cake for breakfast and cereal for dinner with no one criticising me, I can drive and pick people up, I can legitimately buy middle-aged mumsy magazines and not be frowned at, people always approach me to ask the time or information – which makes me feel very friendly, yet authoritative, and I can basically do what any other adults do. I can drink! I can smoke (if I wanted to)! I can fly across the world and no one will say a thing (Except my bank)!
The problem is is that I don’t FEEL like an adult, and it all feels a bit like a role-playing game. If I fill up my car with petrol, I feel slightly as if I shouldn’t be there. What scares me the most is unprepared I am – by 22 many people my age have graduated or are working, others are getting engaged, and others are pregnant. It scares me how 10 minutes ago I was leaving sixth form and now I am going to have to do grown-up decisions. Why did we never learn about taxes in school? Why did we never learn budgeting and accounting, and lessons which are actually useful? I think we had a few lessons on Citizenship when I was 16, and then was simply expected to vote.
Ultimately, what we are all scared of, from Voldemort to Adolf Hitler, is death. I really envy the people who are not because they swan through life with a majestic air, welcoming death as an old friend. When I hit 22 the first thing I honestly thought was I am going to die someday. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it WILL happen one day. There will be a day where I no longer exist, I no longer feel, and I will no longer THINK. This fear has grappled me at points in my life but this was the first age where I realised the truth in it. I won’t see what Colchester is like in 100 years time. Maybe it won’t be there, I don’t know, and what’s the point of speculating?
Now, I know I’m not old. I know I have many years to come (hopefully), and I know many of you will think I’m ‘overreacting’ or ‘stupid’, but at the same time I honestly don’t understand how anyone could reach their 20s and not have at least contemplated once that the consequences of your actions are far more. My main ’22 years resolution’ is to, therefore, start working on my future and my future health. I want to enjoy my time on earth as much as I possibly can, so, as cheesy as it sounds, I WILL try and start seizing the day.
…Once I’ve watched another episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians.