The first time I went into Brighton on my own, was the first time I remember feeling like a grown up.
I went into this sophisticated sandwich shop, perused the shelves and watched people order drinks I’d never heard of. It even smelt like grown ups in this place.
I could smell shopping bags and posh cheddar and… praline. And hold up, can I eat the label on this carrot cake or can I not eat the label on this carrot cake?
Little did I know back then that nobody called Pret A Manger, Pret A Manger unless they were a bellend – it’s best known amongst normal lunch-paying adults as, “Pret”.
I was loaded up with shopping bags, funded by birthday money I’d imagine because lol, I was Hoovering a carpet shop one day a week for pocket money at this point.
Once, a customer came in with a little boy and he let him play out the back in the stock room / staff kitchen for a bit, drinking orange squash. A lot of orange squash. He then threw up everywhere, all over the carpet and guess who had to help clean it up?
But turns out, there’s not really a better place to throw up on a carpet than in a carpet shop, so they just took it up and laid down something a bit more sicky-child friendly.
I had my baguette, tuna & cucumber probably – ‘cos I can’t imagine I had a palate for crayfish and avo at 14 – and I felt like I was the first girl in the history of girls to grow up.
I’d had a taste of independence and I wanted to rush through the next round of beige birthdays and just get to 18, already.
And that’s where it all starts. From then on, whatever age or milestone you reach, it never seems to be enough.
When you’re 18 you want to be 21, when you’re 21 you want to be 25 so you’re taken more seriously and at 25 you look at those in their 30s and think yeah, I want to be 30 running my own business and feeding my kid with my own brilliant fucking boobs if it’ll let me.
And, I want to take my meetings from a downward dog position and only from the downward dog position because I can be the woman and the boss and wear the yogi pants at the same time dontcha know.
Your late twenties are a tale of wild contrasts: those friends who are engaged to be married and pregnant, with a mortgage – (not carrying a small mortgage child, just an ordinary male or female baby) and those who are, well, not doing any of those things.
And for those in the latter camp, it can feel like you’re falling behind. But adulthood isn’t always as linear as it claims to be.
There’s nothing negative about having goals and planning for the future, btw – it’s good to know what you want from your own life but if it’s distracting you from the life you already have, then that’s when I think we all need to stick on some Sade and chill the fuck out.
We spend the first part of our lives wanting to fast-forward events, then the best part of those glorified ‘adult’ years wanting to rewind.
We need to stop rushing to make the future happen before it’s meant to.
I need to fight the urge to race full steam ahead because I know I need to embrace these messy in-between years for all their worth.
The years when potato waffle dinner plans are as far as I’ve managed to get, because if I do have kids one day, they’re not going to want to hear about how I found the perfect swatch of Farrow & Ball paint for the living room walls before I was 30.
They’re going to want to hear about the time I thought it was acceptable to walk up to Alan Shearer in a sweaty London bar and stroke his balding head. Which, by the way was impeccably well-oiled. In a good way.
The Italians call it, ‘La dolce far niente’ ~ the beauty of doing nothing. Stop cherishing that future that hasn’t happened yet and take a second to just be in your here and now (more on that here). Exactly as we’re all meant to be.
Love you bye.
Thank you to the wickedly talented Chloe Plumstead for inspiring this post. She wrote a corker all about growing up & the fear of being boring. Read it here.
Photography by Olivia Foley