This year is kind of a landmark year in my life. I am no longer in my early twenties.
That’s right, no more all-nighters partying, no more eating just crisps for dinner and absolutely no more sleeping in my make-up!
I am officially an adult….. Holy shit!
When I think about growing up it always made me a bit philosophical… and hungry because, you know, birthday cake. And there is something about the extra candle of the cake that marks the passing of another year that makes me reminisce. I think of everything that the previous year brought, everything I learnt, experienced. Everything that has gone.
As a women aging is something that is demonised. It brings wrinkles, greying hair and supposedly lost beauty. Society tells us this is a bad thing, we lose our place and our significance in society as we get older*. As we age, we lose. But, to be honest, I don’t think I could disagree more.
* I’ve had grey hairs sprouting up since I’ve been 22 so jokes on you aging.
Each new year is gift. It brings with it new opportunities. New people to meet, places to go, things to experience. It is another year we get to experience the blessing of being alive.
And as we start growing up, we (hopefully) get wiser. Things get easier. I remember my teenage years being so confusing! Everything was so new and you have no experience to fall back on. You have to learn everything from scratch. Dating, jobs or even how to make pasta. It is all new, and for a long time I felt continually confused. It is a painful coming of age.
But now as an adult we know these things! We know how to write a CV, what not to do on a first date, what day the recycling bin goes out. We are no longer newbies starting life on level one. We are adults…. well kind of.
The real irony of growing up and becoming an adult is realising that no-one really has their shit together. And I mean even the people with ‘perfect’ lives. I guarantee you, spend a couple of days with someone and you’ll discover everyone wants to improve something, and chances are they feel a bit of an imposter. In reality we are still just muddling through trying to work out what to do next.
So, this year I am saying good bye to my early twenties. And what a wild ride they were!
And now I am entering the my late twenties. The years when you are supposed to settle down and become a real-life adult (in my mind anyway).
This self-enforced transition has been making me think a lot about the quote by Benjamin Franklin-
“Most men die at 25, but just aren’t buried until they’re 75.”
A bit dark yes I know.
However, I think there is a lot of value in this quote.
As we get older it becomes very easy to lose that inner child that we once were. We get so wrapped in the minutia and the practicality of life that we lose a sense of joy.
Children are fascinated by small things. They can spend hours looking at shells on the beach, or picking up fallen leaves in autumn. Things that seem silly to us are curious and interesting. When I was a child I was obsessed with mud. I loved making mud pies, or covering myself in it, like I was at some sort of overpriced GOOP celebrity spa. It achieved nothing, took ages to wash off, but it was pure fun. I loved it!
As a child we all have a joie de vivre, a plan de vida in Costa Rica, or even a lust for life if you are Iggy Pop. We have nothing to do all day but to live. So we do what makes us happy.
Maybe as a child you were obsessed with dinosaurs and spent hours reading paleontological books. Or you loved creating little performances in full costume for your family. Or you just loved doing your dolly’s hair.
We embraced our passions as children and when people asked the infamous ‘What do you want to be when you are older?’ we were shamelessly honest (even if we said we wanted to be a horse or a postbox). We don’t think about the practicality of how long medical school takes, or the precariousness or being a ballerina. We weren’t self-concious and thinking about how embarassing it is to our dreams to someone else. We said what we wanted loud and proud. We followed our hearts.
And I suppose that’s what Benjamin Franklin is saying. Sometimes it feels like society is telling you that our wild years in our early twenties are like the final goodbye to this joie de vivre. We wave goodbye to trying new things, to impracticalities, to following our hearts. We use our age an excuse to live our life to the fullest. But as those extra years grab hold of us things begin to change.
We begin to settle. To think maybe that’s all there is to life and that’s fine. We begin spending our lives stuck in the practicalities, in what we think we should be doing. We lose that hope.
It is an easy trap to fall into. And to be honest, I have felt it myself this year especially. Maybe its all the heaviness of Miss Rona looming around us, or the impending feeling of needing to plan everything. I have been planning everything so meticulously in my head to the point I’ve found myself financially planning for things I don’t even want.
Its like the big wave of adulthood came crashing in and I felt myself getting swept away into the grey ocean before I had even realised it had happened. Its easy to do. Especially when we see everyone around us marrying, getting mortgages, or opting for sensible but ultimately extremely unfulfilling careers. (And let me be clear, being fiscally sensible is important. We need money to do what we want to do.) And there is absolutely nothing wrong with what I have listed above if it is right for you.
But it just doesn’t feel right for me. That little joie de vivre has continued shining like a small but mighty light within me. It tells me no, this isn’t it. Keep trying. You don’t have to settle. That growing up doesn’t have to mean becoming this caricature of an adult that I imagined when I was younger. That settling down doesn’t have to mean settling.
That joie de vivre tells me to keep following my passions, to see where life takes me. To avoid that big grey ocean, and to go floating down the little river instead.
Maybe growing older doesn’t have to mean growing up. It doesn’t have to mean losing touch with that inner child who loved nothing more than a day spent outside playing in the water. That we can be responsible and have fun at the same time. That we don’t need to give up who we are to follow someone elses idealised version of adulthood.
And so take time to reconnect with that inner child within you. Take time to follow your passions, to do what fulfils that deep yearning within you. It might not be practical or useful. But when we have lost that joie de vivre, why are we doing this all?
And that is my plea to myself for this coming year. That growing up doesn’t mean losing my passion. That I can be responsible and stay true to myself. That I must remind myself that there is more than one way to be an adult.
I refuse to lose that inner child, to lose the joie de vivre. That inner light inside me that keeps me going, keeps me trying, keeps me living life to the fullest. That light is my hope, and I will never blow it out.
Today’s song of today is of course Vuelta al mundo by Calle 13. The lyrics in my mind, are all about this lust for life, this joie de vivre. It’s about maybe not knowing what will happen, but know that you always have hope and a smile.
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