Musings of a 21-year-old

That’s right, I made it to 21 without any unwanted pregnancies, flunking out of school, or giving up on everything and becoming a full-time dog walker (though let’s be honest, the latter is something I’d be very happy to do).

21 has always been a big milestone for me. It seems the big ones in my mind were always the ones that are featured a lot on TV or have a lot of meaning attached to them, such as Sweet Sixteen in America. I thought when I reached 18, the legal drinking age in the UK, that would be the moment I became a ‘proper adult’. When I turned 18, I realised that was a load of bollocks and looked forward to not being a teenager anymore, whilst at the same time being absolutely terrified that I wouldn’t be a teen anymore.

So 21 was the age I had in my mind. Me turning 21 would mean that I would have finished university. Turning 21 would (hopefully) mean that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. 21 was going to be the new me, the adult me, the improved me, the me that has her shit together and goals written down on a checklist that I would tick off each day.

Well, in all honesty past-me and readers of this blog, 21 pretty much feels like 20. That’s the problem with birthdays; you big them up so much, have a countdown until the day whilst your excitement grows and grows like some great fire, only to be snuffed out on the anti-climatic day when you look in the mirror and think: I look no different than yesterday. Because your birthday is not the day that everything clicks into place. It is not the day where you feel like an adult or the day that your goals are all met or that you feel so much older than you did the year before. Those things happen in the in-between. I didn’t get more confident when I hit 20; it happened somewhere between my milestones of 18 and 20 without realising. I didn’t figure out what I wanted from life as soon as I turned 21, and I doubt I’ll fully know what I want from life if I just muse about it to a computer screen.

Birthdays in general make me muse more than often, and I wonder if it’s due to the fact that, as the years go on, events like birthdays, easter, christmas and other celebrations slowly start to lose their magic. All through childhood I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before Christmas, or my birthday, imagining all the fantastic and wonderful things that were a few mere hours away. The next year is exciting and filled with the unknown, which only made it more exciting. Yes, the next year is still filled with the unknown, but it’s about as exciting as it is terrifying.

Still, I’ve made it this far – which in retrospect, isn’t even that far at all – so I might as well keep going and hope that, along the way, I live my life the way I want to. You’ll hear about, regardless.

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Carry On

There are no words to describe the last few months with the levels of suffering felt all over the world. With the attack in Manchester two weeks ago, reports of bombings in Pakistan and so many deaths, it’s so difficult to even contemplate. I see reports of hundreds of bombings and attacks felt across the world and can’t even comprehend it. The attack in Westminster was the closest I’d ever been to such atrocity, but I spent the day safe at home in South London, venturing out in the evening to Piccadilly where there were increased numbers of police around the tube stations. I had thought, and hoped, that that was the worst I’d ever have to experience – and I hardly experienced anything. Then two nights ago there were attacks in London Bridge where I knew several friends had been enjoying their night. I had been at dinner with some others in South-East London, our route taking us through London Bridge – I had gone through London Bridge not long before the attack.

I only found out about the attack because my Dad had rung me to check that I was alright, and there we were obliviously enjoying our evening. The journey home was terrifying, taking buses on diverted routes not knowing what was happening, only to hear that there had been another attack where I lived. Several buses and two ubers later, I reached my home again sometime after 1am. I was scared, panicked, and completely shaken – yet what I experienced doesn’t even come close to what others have felt. Most of us, thankfully, won’t have to experience anything like that – of being within such close proximity that you have to run for your life, of hearing gunshots, of hiding under tables, of being separated from your friends, or even losing a loved one and being injured. It’s so very easy to say that you can carry on and no one will ever bring you down when it isn’t you that has suffered.

I’ve tried writing this post about five or six times now, deleting each one because it doesn’t read write, or that I feel that the sentiment can be misinterpreted, or that I have to stop because I’m not even sure what point I’m trying to make – which isn’t something new. I love the fact that we respond to attacks such as these with strength in unity, love and kindness, and I hope that’s something that never changes. Social media means that I can see my friends check off one by one that they’re safe, and immediately feel relieved. Within a few moments I can get in contact with my family and friends and know that they are alright. Even stranded without knowing what was happening, I could call someone to pick me up and take me home. It’s events like these that make you re-evaluate and be grateful for what you have, but it’s a reminder – a reminder that not everyone is so lucky.

Already there are reports of bombings and attacks in other parts of the world, but the only way I hear about them is through the limited amount of shared posts on Facebook. There is no hashtag, there is no overwhelming wave of support from celebrities on social media, and when you go outside no one is subdued or discussing it or seeing how they can help. So whilst I sit here, safe in a house with concerns over finding a job, others are struggling with far worse – and yet we don’t talk about them. Another bombing in another part of the world doesn’t factor to us, as very few of us will have connections there. So when you proclaim that you stand with Manchester, that you send your love to London, or your heart goes out to those suffering, remember that events like these happen everywhere so frequently that often the media doesn’t cover it. Remember that there are people suffering elsewhere who don’t have an outpour of love and support from strangers. Remember to be grateful, and remember that everyone deserves that love and kindness, be they one county over or on the other side of the world.