It was approximately 0.36am when, as I surrendered myself underneath the familiar walls of warmth around me, the increasingly present thoughts of dread came crashing down. I lay there in silence, staring out of the 10cm gap I always leave between the blind and the window sill, as if it provides a comfort that I would at least be able to see the monster who was going to eat me in the night. And then it dropped, a single tear. This scene could have been right out of a music video. A really fucking sad one, of course. An Adele original, wailing in terms that no one understands about a love from ten years ago that you should have most definitely forgotten about by now. Except I wasn’t crying about a lost teenage love . I really wasn’t sure why I was crying at all.
Adulthood tends to have this effect on me. This ever engulfing cycle of responsibility and expectations, hopes and dreams, successes and failures, excitement and disappointment. It’s a whirlwind which I face regularly, a wave of eagerness and fear all rolled into one. Sometimes it smacks you in the face like a breath of fresh air, igniting the ambition from underneath you. And other days it collapses on top of you, sinking you further into the hole that has formed at your feet. Today was one of those days. I’m 25 years old, and I am lost. Lost somewhere between kidulthood and adulthood. I am, as Britney Spears so eloquently put it, not a girl, not yet a woman. But I guess I’m not really lost at all. I know exactly where I am, and it’s not where I want to be. But it’s better than where I was five years ago. Ugh, but it’s not where I was last year. I’m just sort of, floating. Floating in this realm of uncertainty, desperate to have everything figured out but doing the absolute minimum to fix it.
As I lay in bed that night with the weight of the world on my shoulders, every thought and every fear ran through my head. My emotions were Mo Farah and my brain was his track. What the fuck am I doing with my life? What the fuck am I not doing with my life? I’ve put on weight, I sigh, as I pinch my belly underneath the covers. Maybe I’ll try one of those detoxes. But all I really want to do is sit in bed with a sharing size bag of bacon flavour crisps and not share them with anyone. Fuck I love food. Why do I love food so much. Everything tastes as good as skinny feels to me. I book myself in for a 10am gym session knowing that there is a good chance that I will cancel it in the morning, and put myself through more feelings of shame and disappointment. When am I going to buy a house? I don’t even want to buy one at the moment, I love the flat I live in, in fact I never want to move. But all my friends are buying houses, so I should too. And I especially want one at 1am in the morning. Will I ever get married? I don’t think I’m overly fussed about marriage. I’m more interested in the day and wearing a nice dress and getting drunk with my friends and a nice man who seems to share this mutual feeling of thinking I’m nice too. Maybe if there was a faint glimmer of a courtship on the horizon then everyone and their dog would stop asking me when I’m going to find a guy to settle down with. Am I not interested in that young postman? Or the Iceland delivery driver? Or any Male under the age of 40 that looks in my direction? I don’t even want a boyfriend. I want to go travelling. And I certainly don’t need a man for that. Uh, except I kind of do. Because “it’s not safe to go there alone as a girl” or as a group of girls for that matter. And anyway, it’s really fucking expensive to travel alone when hotels are double the price. I want a baby. Oh god, not now, definitely not now. But you know, maybe before I’m classed as an older mum and everyone mistakes me for my kids grandma in the playground. That’s what people think of mums over 30, right? And what if I’m barren Darren? What if nothing works down there and I won’t know until it’s too late and I’ve found a nice gentleman who won’t want to stay with me and my bad batch of human eggs. I’m lonely. Where did all my friends go? Well they grew up, duh. They have lives and they have responsibilities and they have boyfriends and they have hobbies and they have new friends. New fucking friends, ha! How do you meet these new friends everyone talks about? Am I ever going to have the career I want? Will I succeed with my huge dreams, or will I have to go back to working in Boots and selling people meal deals or fitting shoes for old ladies in Dorothy Perkins. Things don’t work unless you do, Jessica. Ah, but that would entail getting through the impossible task of getting started to start with. Just one phonecall, just one mood board, or just one fashion sketch feels like the pressure of ten concrete blocks crushing my bones. Then comes the actual blocks, the creative blocks. When grabbing for my phone and scrolling through Instagram for the 100th time today is a better option than sitting down and actually having to think. Tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow things will be different.
Except 95% of the time, tomorrow hasn’t been different. I’m still waiting by my phone for an email, a text, a sign that says THIS IS IT, THINGS ARE HAPPENING. And as things stop changing, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell yourself to stay positive, to keep in a happy frame of mind, that you have got this. Ironically, I would say that I’m an extremely positive person. I read self-help books, I go to yoga, I meditate, I watch motivational documentaries, I write down what I am grateful for and I practice the Law of attraction. But nothing, not even a serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul can stop the quarter life crisis from grabbing you and turning you inside out.
Does this dread ever disappear, I wonder? Maybe when I start ticking off some “firsts” then the doubt and worry will fade away. Maybe when I actually become an adult. A real one. Not one who’s forced themselves to enjoy adult things likes olives and red wine. But an adult you know? I mean, okay technically I am one. If I went missing, the newspaper article would read TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD WOMAN. But that’s not the point. I haven’t achieved full adult status yet. Of course, I’ve switched electric providers. That’s pretty adult-y. And I’ve hosted a Christmas dinner party. That’s quite adult-y too. But I’m still not a real adult yet, am I?
I wait longingly, desperate for my transition to be complete; to know it all, to have it all. But then I remember my last minute night out four weeks ago, where “one drink” turned to 10, and “one quick dance” turned to a full blown Destiny’s Child routine. I think back to our girls trip, our decisions on a whim, our 2am drunken chats over pizza and our epic hangovers the next day. I thank god for my lack of responsibilities, for being able to lie in bed watching shit movies eating pesto pasta and not worry about anyone else other than myself. I laugh remembering all the stupid situations I’ve got myself in, and smile because I have no one to answer to for them. Maybe being 25 isn’t so bad after all.