I turn 25 in two days. I am trying very hard not to have a quarter life crisis about this. It feels like a tremendously big number, and my brain has spent the last few weeks punishing me for this. I've been finding myself ominously going through all the stuff I haven't done with my life; I haven't got that high-flying job, I haven't yet blossomed into a sinewy twenty-something with perfect skin and hair, I haven't got a cat, I've barely travelled in any meaningful sense, I haven't written a novel. Well, actually, I have done the last one, technically speaking, but I don't think that Lord of Rings fanfiction when your 15 counts. Also, I'll be spending my birthday at my parents so I can use their garden. The last birthday event at my parents? I was SEVENTEEN.
I've read a lot recently about turning 25 – what can I say, my generation really enjoys a bit of naval-gazing – and mostly it makes me feel wretched.
SO. Instead, I've been trying to make a list of all my achievements thus far that the seventeen year old me would have been proud of. Apparently this is the best way to think of it.
1. Passed my driving test and NOT KILLED ANYONE.
Now, there are people out there who wouldn't be impressed by this. These people did not see my driving lessons. Not only have I been driving for eight years, I have gone to and from Scotland more times than you can shake a stick at BYMYSELF. Once I drove a car from St Andrews to Cardiff. It wasn't my car. It was a borrowed car, and the seat didn't move far enough forward for me to touch the pedals the whole way down. And I still failed to kill anyone. SUCCESS.
2. I have a degree!
The title of the blog is a hint on that one, but it's easy to forget that having a degree is a really big achievement. To be honest, the seventeen year old me was just hoping she'd pass the AS-Levels.
3. I have managed to acquire a husband.
This is not an achievement, per se, mostly because in this one I've just been lucky and I don't think that 'being settled' is a universal achievement. Still, managing to organise a wedding is an achievement in itself.
4. I get to write sometimes.
Not that often. But I do get paid to write, both in my day to day job and outside of it. I manage to produce something for here on a semi-regular basis. I feel myself moving very, very slowly, to doing this professionally.
5. I have my own place.
Do I own it yet? No, of course not. But I've boomeranged and I've got out today. In today's world for people of my age, that's definitely an achievement.
6. I've managed to become a reasonably rounded human beings.
A true story, and one shared by many graduates: I was picked on at school. Horrendously. And once, Dad took me to one side, and he said: “Look. One day, you'll be driving past that lot in a car that you own, on the way to your nice job, and you'll see that lot queuing for a bus with hordes of kids, and they will look old. You'll have made something of yourself. You'll have won.”
He's not quite right yet. The nice job has yet to materialise. But occasionally I hear of the people who made my life hell, and, well, I seem to have improved since I was in high school. They haven't.
So fingers crossed, I will spend my birthday eating barbecue food, drinking copious amounts of red wine and feeling good about myself. Until the hangover, which is a totally different issue.