This year it’s been ten years since my Master’s Degree graduation. Next year will be twenty years since I graduated from high-school. 40% of my female Facebook friends have children and 60% are married (or about to get). My idea of a good time is a book, a hammock, rays of sunshine and chirping birds. I have a savings account with actual money in it. I have given up on high heels and I wear my glasses 99% of the time. I have life insurance. I have a cat whom I successfully manage to feed on a daily basis. I go to bed early (if I can help it). I wiggle my way out of going out for drinks as much as I can during the week. The best few days in my recent history are spent with family and (shockingly) by myself. I’d rather go on a nature walk than shopping. I wear mostly black (my mother actually made fun of me recently when she suggested I wore a grey T-shirt that had a black band, knowing I always wear at least something black).I have a husband and a garden and, soon, a farm in France with goats and chicken. I recently panicked at the hairdressers that she went too crazy on layers and I almost cried (nobody wants layers anymore, it’s all about straight cuts, right?). I had my nails painted dark blue and quickly realised I didn’t have the body of a Japanese Lolita to go with them (been pretty much hiding them in boots since). I’m almost 40.
Wait a minute. When the hell did that happen?
It feels as sudden as realising this morning that autumn is already here (I saw conkers in a tree on my way to work – conkers!) and only yesterday was May.
Only a few short years ago I was the last person to leave a party. I spent my weekends with a hangover. I bought a lot of outrageous clothes and wore them. I had no money, no savings, no prospect of owning a property or even meeting a decent bloke (I’m surprised I even had a job!). I played softball and went travelling. I was constantly broke. And yet, despite the mess described above, I was rather happy. When you have nothing, you kind have nothing to lose, if you know what I mean.
The last year and a half has seen me to a complete transformation. I’ll admit, it wasn’t of my choosing to begin with. I was competently persuaded into becoming an adult by my husband, who’s been one since circa 1999, when he bought his first flat (please note that in 1999 I was still learning how to tie my shoe laces). It wasn’t just that I had a lot of catching up to do, but that for a long time, I refused to grow up. I’ve had such a tough upbringing, such a hard time when I was supposed to play and have fun and sing and dance that, when I finally reached a relatively safe place, I wanted to take having fun from where I’ve left it. I never really had a grand design for my life other than try to be happy and lighthearted. And for a while it worked for me. Life is easier when there’s nothing at stake. When you can make impulse decisions and say yes to a weekend break in Rome if the fancy takes you. Now I say no a lot more. Because now I calculate the cost of every yes and how much it would set me back from the current course. And every no accumulates into a relative wealth and balance. Every no (as painful as it is) leads me closer to a life I never even envisaged for myself a few years ago when I spread myself thinly saying yes to everything day in and out.
Part of the problem is not that the time flies, but that we don’t have time to watch it go past, to embrace every stage in our life as they unfold. That we rush through, always in a hurry to reach the next milestone.That we never stop to contemplate. And living in a city like London we probably can’t even if we wanted to (believe me, I tried). Moving to France seems a reasonable solution but not if you’re trying to build a business and working remotely for money (because yes, in adulthood, we bloody need them).
Ignoring the time going past (like I did) is not a solution. No matter how much we refuse to grow up, life has a way of finding us and kicking us in the bum and telling us to act our age. If we don’t want to be the last people left at a party that finished long time ago.