Today is the only day of your life where you will wake up to being twenty-seven years old for the first time. TWENTY-SEVEN.YEARS. OLD.
There was a time not so long ago when you thought you’d be married by this age, planning a family and working a job that meant money in the bank and a steady route to a nice management position. There are two things to say about this. One: PAHAHAHAHAHA! And two: that sixteen-year old version of yourself way prefers the person you’ve become instead.
That sixteen year-old had no idea at the adventure that lay before her. She couldn’t comprehend the kind of life being brave and scared and excited means. It takes a certain type of courage to be damn well unaccepting of what everyone else might do. To understand implicitly that it’s what you want that matters. And if you want the brown baked cheese on the bottom of the baking tray it ain’t no use going through the motions of making cheddar nachos simply because that’s how you think it should be done. Just grill the cheese. That’s the one thing you can be proudest of: that you do it your way, even when you don’t have a bloody clue what might happen next. You’re winning at your own life, love, and don’t you dare ever forget it.
You love getting older. Every birthday forces you to look back at the last, and this time last year you were about to leave Rome, celebrating turning 26 at brunch with friends who became family in nine short months. You didn’t have “a plan.” You lived in an Italian convent to figure it out. Then you put on your big girl pants and decided to make your dreams come true. It’s happening. They are. You’ve never worked harder for anything and that’s what success looks like: unglamourous baby steps in your pyjamas.
Some advice, then, as you demand the world pays attention:
Book the flights. The difference between you being productive and laying on the sofa with your head under the cashmere blanket in denial is whether or not you have a trip planned. Finally go to Morocco- if you haven’t done that by May 22nd 2014 then you’re a poo-head. A big, smelly, dumbass poo-head. With cooties.
Celebrating the curves of your body is not the same as mainlining that entire tub of M&S Rocky Road Bites. Remember the difference.
You do not suit the sheer floral blouse.
You’re allowed to say no. You pride yourself, perhaps a little too much, on a say-yes-to-life attitude, but sometimes you need to be alone, with a book, and silence, and that’s okay. Go to more museums solo too. You like how it makes you feel.
Be kinder to your parents.
Your humour can be charming and endearing, but it can also be isolating and exclusionary. When you meet a boy at a party, be funny, stretch your brain- but don’t forget to be kind, too. You do it to see who might make effort enough to get past that barrier you put up because you’re afraid, but let’s call a spade a spade: everyone is fucking afraid, and there’s a fine line between wit and shit. Stop it. Open up a bit.
On that note, cease being such a pussy about how you dress. You’re so affronted by the notion that a man might hit on you for your boobs first, and for your mind second, that you refuse to unbutton your shirt from the neck collar. SPOILER ALERT: You can show your cleavage and still be a worthwhile human being. Loosen up a bit.
Close the laptop. You don’t have a smartphone because you say you don’t need a computer in your pocket- but the first thing you do when you get home is check your email. Do more tech-free nights; leave your MacBook at work and actually call the people you want to talk with. In fact, make more phone calls in general. It’s nice to hear the voices of the ones that you love.
Use the successes of your peers to spur you on to do better. Your younger self hated back-stabbing and bitch-talking as much as you say you do now. Even if you preface one of your “observations” with “I mean, she’s terrifically talented, but…” it’s still the green-eyed monster talkin’. Pack it in.
Just because you’ve proved to yourself that you can do it alone, it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
Buy a fucking camera charger. It’s been ten months without one.
Run more. It makes your arse look gorgeous.
Happy belated birthday, Laura.
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