You know how on every birthday, everyone asks you ‘do you feel old?’ and the answer is usually no because it’s just another day that just happens to mark another year around the sun, right?
When I turned 20, I actually did feel older. It felt like a big step – finally shunning the teenage years and officially entering my twenties; the decade of potentially the biggest changes of my life. Graduating university, starting my career, getting married, buying a house, having a baby? I don’t know if I’ll do all those things but it’s a pretty monumental decade!
I feel like 25 is going to have the same impact, because I’m officially halfway through.
And I could write about ’25 Things I’ve Done by 25′ or ’30 Things I Want To Do By 30′ but life is simultaneously short and long – things I’ve done are for me to celebrate with my friends and family. If I’d made a 30 by 30 list when I was 20, half the things I wanted then wouldn’t be relevant now. I’m five years older, on the brink of a neurodiversity diagnosis and I’m starting to understand that wanting a routine and to be in bed by 10pm isn’t a ‘flaw’ I need to push myself out of, but what my mind and body needs and works best with.
I wouldn’t say I’m a completely different person, but I’ve grown in the best way. I took a phone call last week where someone I’d never spoken to before described me as ‘confident’ – that whole sentence was a ride from ‘phone call’ to ‘confident’; look at any of my school reports and I don’t think a single one of them will praise my confidence because I didn’t have any. I’ve really grown and though I’m not ‘there’ yet (wherever ‘there’ is), I think I’m really starting to accept myself and I feel like that’s what, subconsciously at least, I’ve really struggled to do so far.
I’ve always thought of myself as weird or wrong; not quite fitting in, always looking like the odd one out in everything from my height and weight to my interests and the way I think and talk.
But I can’t hold myself to other people’s standards – to neurotypical standards if I’m not, to looking like a 5’7 size 8 model on tiktok when I’m not, to being a ‘night owl’ who doesn’t sleep till 3am when I love falling asleep at 11 and getting eight hours sleep.
I spent so long desperate to be something I wasn’t – naturally skinny, naturally musical, naturally social etc etc – when actually, if I can spend the rest of my life accepting myself and not sacrificing my boundaries for the sake of others; doing what I feel comfortable doing, then I think I’ll be doing okay.
Here’s to my last week of 24, and to not squeezing myself into spaces I don’t naturally fit.
Thank you for reading,