A Love Letter to my Thirties / April 2018
I am sixteen, wearing jeans with holes at the knees I've ripped myself, just wide enough so the Barbie pink fishnets underneath can be glimpsed, should anyone be looking. In my hand is a bottle of alcopop that looks like medicine you take for an unsettled stomach and clumsily discarded on the patchy grass beside me is my shoulder bag distressed with Green Day patches and pin badges proclaiming cheeky things. Fat tears line my eyes from laughing so intensely over a ridiculous in-joke repeated between my friends well beyond the point of any initial comedic merit. I developed a keen sense of self at around this age, at that time of sweaty palms and boys in oversized hoodies on skateboards and religiously watching the alt music channels after school. I am still this person and and as easy as it would be to romanticise that time in my life in some grown up ode to nostalgia, I really don't need to as fundamentally there's been no inherent change.
My twenties were collectively messy. There was indecision and dull office jobs, there was family estrangement and a long overdue, punishing break-up but something changed in tandem with the arrival of my 30th birthday which was so significant. On a whim, or more accurately because of a sponsored Instagram ad, I downloaded a mindfulness app and learnt how to breathe. How had I made it thirty years without knowing how to do that?! My anxiety began to alleviate which made those day to day things in all of my relationships easier, calmer. I started listening to podcasts to have some company on the commute to work - smart people speaking passionately about the pop culture I love feels just like making new friends and it's a quiet comfort to know they are out there in the big wide world.
Perhaps irresponsibly (I rent a studio apartment in a trendy part of North London), I quit my job of two years. The one that sounded attractive “on paper” and came replete with the opportunity to read film scripts in development and memorise phone numbers of people whose names you see in opening credits. For the amount of stress that job induced, I eventually decided it wasn't worth it. That I didn't care enough. What was far more important and gratifying was self-care and focussing on something that would be worth it.
In what now seems like something resembling divine intervention, after a couple of months temping I managed to find a great new job which is both extremely manageable and in an industry I'm personally interested in and I have met a colleague who I know will be a best friend for life. How often does that happen once you get older and people couple up, go out less and priorities shift organically.
Being absolved from any work-related aggravation freed up the much needed space in my brain and life routine to be filled by creativity. It had been unassuming and patient within me for quite some time. I had attempted to start a novel or two in my mid twenties and still had constant flashbacks to being a curly haired child sprawled out on the floor of my Aunt's living room making what I assumed would be the next best thing to 90's mag Girl Talk with glitter glue and content in desperate need of an editor. Social media has honestly been a huge contributing factor to my newly acquired motivation. For all it's negative attributes - and there are lots - I discovered a community of like minded creative types, people just like me who are doing their thing and kicking life ass. It's continually inspiring.
I wrote a quick piece about the teen movies of my formative years and sent it off to a start-up zine without a second thought and it was received so positively it was as though it had just occurred to someone to switch the light on in that room in my mind with the curtains drawn.
There is something so pure in how comfortable I feel in my own skin these days. I am made of all the things I adore – the old Hollywood movies where characters talk with machine gun precision and the American teen dramas I like to watch on repeat when I get home from work. The lyrics to pop punk anthems and the telephone box red colour I like to paint on my nails and lips. It's all okay. It's okay if I say no to going out some place I don't want to and it's okay if I get carded buying a bottle of wine because I have perpetual baby face. My thirties are my decade and I am the best version of myself, finally.