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An ode to my twenties.


I was going to pick a photo from my 20th birthday party, but they were genuinely awful so here's a relatively nice one from April 2011. 


Two nights ago I did something very not like me.

I deleted a blog post due out tomorrow that I had penned in the summer - titled A Letter to my 20-year-Old Self - because it was too personal. Let this be proof that I do occasionally keep some thoughts to myself. The reason this blog was too personal was because I talk about people who left my life during my twenties in a very detailed way. If you read my posts a lot you will have probably noted that I removed several people from my life circa my 27th birthday. I’ve never hashed out the full details of this partially because it’s not 100% my own story to tell but also because it's kind of embarrassing that I was ever friends with some of those people. 


In my letter, I just wanted to explain to my 20-year-old self why almost everyone who was at her 20th birthday party isn’t in her life a decade on. And that it will be her choice and she'll be happier because of it. I suppose that conversation will stay between me and her.

At the end of the day though, I’m still an oversharer and a twenties round-up was still due. I find an overshare cathartic and I know that sometimes it helps people when I spill my emotions out online. If there’s another young person out there feeling a bit overwhelmed who might benefit from these words then so be it.

I turned 20 during what was not a great time from me. There was a friendship break-up, a romantic break-up, housing problems and I was now halfway through a degree that I had chosen just because I felt pressure to choose something at the end of school and the realisation that I didn’t have a plan post-university was creeping up on me.

But all of this had a silver lining. It was the wake-up call I needed to see that something needed to change. At 20, I couldn’t really work out what exactly needed to change, though over the years I would learn that I had problems with people-pleasing, anxious AND avoidant attachment, pretending I only fancied men, letting other people access to the driver’s seat of my life, and a weak self-identity. I started reading self-help articles and then slowly but surely things began to fall into place. It would take until I was 27 for things to really fall into place for me, but eventually, things would.

The main thing I wanted to say to my younger self was a thank you for choosing to use this negative period of your life as a catalyst for change rather than patiently waiting for it to pass. God knows where I’d be if I had just shrugged everything off.

In the next few months I have two 10 year anniversaries coming up: the day I gave up eating meat and the day I started this blog. Both were New Year Resolutions in 2011 that would go on to become two of the best choices I’ve ever made and would eventually give me the confidence to take bigger leaps. I recently celebrated my 10-year single anniversary, which was also off the back of a 2011 resolution to only choose a future relationship for love, not convenience. Never did meet that person, which would have made my 20-year-old self cry, but 30-year-old me is grateful that I made the right decision for me.

I’m not going to pretend that turning 30 without a partner, mortgage, or wild career success hasn’t taken a bit of a hit to the old self-esteem. Instagram regularly tells me that I’m not behind and that I’m exactly where I need to be. Here’s a bit of honesty though: I lost year’s of my life pretending to be someone that I’m wasn't and then having to play catch-up when I did find myself. You know how physically exhausting running from something is? Mentally running from who you really are is fucking exhausting too and takes up energy that would be better spent elsewhere. Running is exhausting, period. Which is why I don’t do it anymore, literally or metaphorically.

My proudest achievement has been learning to love myself in a world that tells me not to which is poetic sure, but it’s also a bit shit. I’ve had to practice a lot of self-compassion recently by reminding myself that I used to have some issues that many people never had to deal with and that’s why they shot out in front. Finding happiness was my goal for my twenties and...I completed it. I’m only 30 and have plenty of time to tick the other boxes. Some people never learn to love themselves (it’s a lot of work and I have a library of self-help books if anyone wants a lend) and I should count my blessings that I found a calmness in myself that some people never do.

Another big box I did manage to tick by 30 was building a fantastic friendship circle. I don’t speak to many of the people who attended my 20th birthday, which feels weird to think about even if it had been my own choice to end those friendships for serious reasons. In the last few years, I’ve found people who love me in my honest bisexual, nerdy, introverted, awkward, left-wing glory. I know a lot of people aren’t as lucky to have the support system that I have and I’m incredibly grateful that when I became the most honest version of me the right people began to float into my life and the wrong people just left me the hell alone.

If I had to round up my twenties I would say that they started out tough but were ultimately transformative. I’m going into my thirties with a very solid foundation full of love, self-acceptance, knowing who I am, and feeling a lot happier than I did when I turned twenty (which wasn’t very hard to beat, if I’m honest). I might be welcoming in what is regularly considered to be the best decade of everyone’s life in the middle of a global pandemic, but I’m happy and finally feel at peace with who I am (if very stressed at the impending doom).

If I could go back and talk to my younger self I’d thank her for making self-improvement and self-care a priority because it’s really going to work out for you kid. I’d also tell her that there will be a Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 and that she’ll vote Yes just to see the disbelief on her unionist face (yes, I used to believe in the UK and was even a Liberal Democrat, oh how time flies).

I’m not sad to be leaving my twenties. Life got better for me with age and I stopped fearing ageing when my life became everything I wanted around about my 27th birthday.

I’m coming for you, my thirties (while maintaining social distancing).

Love, always x

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