This was meant to go live on the morning of my birthday but hey ho, organisation still isn’t one of my best points after 30 years on this earth. In my defence, having almost two months to digest everything has actually helped me compose these reflections.
Like I mentioned in my Budapest post, at 29 I found myself stressing out about birthday celebrations as well as worrying that I hadn’t ticked enough off my vague ’30 before 30′ list. If I compare this to age 19, I didn’t really think too deeply about moving into a new decade. I just thought being in your twenties meant you were now officially old and did old people things. Imagine how I chuckled when I discovered an old letter to myself that said ‘DO NOT HAVE A BABY BEFORE THE AGE OF 24.’
Prepare yourself for these words of wisdom from my now defunct Teen Open Diary…
What I’ve Realised About Life, By Kristabel (Age 20)
1. That some people in this world are not as narrow-minded as I first thought. People who I like can actually like me back and I do have some good points (such as a conspicuous arse and boobs to rival Jordan’s).
2. It is important to not expect too much out of things (namely losing virginity) and get carried away. I guess it isn’t the be all and end all, and perhaps there is a reason for all this. It makes me stand out, different.
3. That I only lose my appetite due to extreme happiness.
4. That it is extremely difficult for me to talk about my feelings in person.
5. That I seem to have gotten more eccentric, easily confused and scatty.
6. I am probably a control freak.
This all seems like overdramatic word vomit, but I was twenty! Also where are my eyebrows?!
Initially I thought this post was going to be a snappy list filled with musings like ‘Always get the curly fries’ but as I started writing, it became apparent that there were a few key themes. If my life had to be a coming-of-age movie, then the main realisation would be that I haven’t got it all figured out.
I’m only covering a few areas (my thoughts on racial identity needed their own post) and hope to include more on friendship and body image over the coming months. For now I thought I’d share some of the key things I’ve had to learn from over the past ten years. I’ve gone from public blubbing to pushing my comfort zone to the limits.
WHAT I’VE REALISED ABOUT LIFE, BY KRISTABEL (AGE 30)
Growing up, I always had a bit of a plan for myself. Go to Uni, graduate, get a job as a fashion designer and then carry on with all the milestones like marriage and kids. Simple. Then a few things out of my control got in the way. I didn’t expect that my dream career path would became a nightmare and for my all-girls school upbringing to affect the way I saw the opposite sex. Then once I got to my mid twenties, I started panicking about being in my mid twenties. When I turned 26 my mindset was, ‘Don’t worry, you still have 27, 28 and 29!’ This carried on until I saw sense and thought ‘For what exactly? Am I going to suddenly disappear in a puff of smoke on the 17th August 2017?’
What age (and listening to a lot of podcasts) has brought me is perspective. You can have a plan but it may lead you somewhere else entirely. Also, nothing is as it seems. I assumed that certain places of work would run seamlessly, when in reality they could be just as disorganised as me. I gradually started to see my parents as people who made mistakes and were also figuring it out as they went along. The weirdest thing is when you get a bit older and start trying to give them advice.
No one has a linear journey when it comes to life and there’s no rush. Also, you’ll most likely have a transitional period where you question everything and don’t know what’s going on. It hit me when I turned 26, I didn’t have a ‘job‘ and freaked out when people asked me what I was going to do next. It’s happening to my friend now who went from fashion design to teaching yoga and there’s countless podcasts where people have come through the other side and started innovative businesses. The weirdest thing now is when people look at me and think I have it sussed, when in reality I’m embracing the fact that I don’t have a fixed plan any more.
I was a bit of an ugly crying girl
To say I was highly-strung was an understatement. Fun fact, I once broke down in front of my parents after missing the bus to school (waiting another 30 minutes with a Nokia 3310 must have seemed like the worst possible outcome). I also cried straight after an Art Foundation interview because I felt like I hadn’t got the place, even though it was pretty much a dead cert. What I’ve come to realise is that I need to be in control and struggle when things don’t go my way. You see, I’m the kind of person who always has her heart set on things. If I’m out with friends and they don’t know where to eat, I’ll always be the one with a fixed idea in my head (and most likely have a meme-worthy face if I don’t get my way).
I try to pick my battles now. I know that a dodgy lunch doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and although the unimportant situations don’t bother me as much, occasionally I will still have a bit of a sob if I lose control of a situation. It’s just who I am. The difference is that I’m more aware of why I respond this way and can pick myself up quicker. I still have a lot of feelings, but it tends to be more of a last resort.
I thought relationships were a bit like The Sims
We talk a lot about comparison when it comes to blogging, but before all that Insta-loathing, I was comparing my lack of relationships to my friends seemingly perfect couplings. It’s only now after the frank chats with those friends, that I realise that some of these situations weren’t what they seemed. They were projecting happiness whilst dealing with their own insecurities in private whereas I was seeing their ‘happiness’ and using it as a barometer of success. I didn’t know the full story.
Basically I thought relationships were as straightforward as playing the Sims and getting your characters to kiss ten times. I was in a bubble during my female-centric degree and thought that the perfect man would appear at just the right time, as if by magic. Even when I did once get chatted up by three different men (!) two weeks before I was due to leave New York, all I could think was that it didn’t fit into my plan. The dates could have all ended with disappointment, but I didn’t even try.
Now I’m trying to manage expectations when it comes to love, but it’s tricky. If an attractive guy so much as looks at me, I can be planning our future complete with West Elm furniture within minutes. I accept that my life has gone a little differently to that of my paired up friends and I know that in reality a series of unexpected situations is usually how people meet. I’m trying to open my mind.
Fortunately through a lot of frank conversations and mini-epiphanies, I’ve become a little more reassured about this new age bracket that I’m in. My twenties were a time for me to refine my personality and I still have moments of self doubt and overreaction. Fortunately maturity came along and I can manage tricky situations better than I used to. This is going to be an exciting decade. I feel happier, more open and I understand myself better.
I know a lot of you who are between 25 and 30 are freaking out about getting older but ironically everyone over 30 is having a whale of a time (see this Twitter thread as proof). We need to embrace maturity. After all, I can finally cook rice and I’m not crying about missed buses anymore!