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.

A letter to my younger self

*this is a letter I wish I could send to my younger self, with things I wish I knew then, and although this letter won’t be received by myself, maybe it will help someone else*

Dear Eleanor,

Reading through your thoughts in that ridiculous diary of ours makes me laugh and cry, in good ways and bad. You should really say some of those feeling out loud, but I understand – you’re better at writing things out. It’s like if you press you pen hard enough against the page, forcing the paper to absorb the ink filled with your feelings, all those emotions tumbling out from your body and embedding into the page, then that will help. That will work, for now. You’re a pretty emotional person, dramatic too, but most of your friends just see the sunny side. I know, I know; you think that if your friends see only light and laughter from you, then they’ll like you more. Any hint of sadness or tears or anything not just good an happy, then maybe people will like you less. Here’s my first tip for you: they get it. Your friends will understand it if you have a bad day and need someone to vent to. You might pride yourself on being a good listener, but it doesn’t mean you’re the only one that knows how to do it. So stop acting like a martyr, don’t arrogantly think no one will understand you, and start whining to your friends. It will help.

You’ll probably want to know what’s going on with me – how many books have we published, how many celebrities have we met, what incredible adventures have we had? Well, you might be a bit disappointed to hear that being nineteen-going-on-twenty does not an adult make. No great bolt of knowledge of how to be an adult has shot out of the sky and struck me – at least, not yet. In all honesty, I’ve still no idea what I’m doing. My plans change every day, the path on how to achieve the far-off dream of being an author twists and turns in unpredictable ways. What I’ve learned? Just go with it. Don’t bog yourself down with panic over the future. Don’t stress and fret and let the days pass you by. Just live in the present while you’re there – you’ll figure out what to do.

One thing I can say is I’m glad I don’t have to relive everything you’re going through right now. Homework sucks, and I can say that work from uni isn’t much better – but what I try to remind myself is at least I’m doing work on a subject I actually like and that I chose, instead of chemistry. Or physics. Or worse, maths. What I can say is that it will be over soon – just get through it all now, work your arse off, and you’ll get there. Don’t let other people tell you what you should and shouldn’t do – especially that person who says ‘what can you even do with a *insert humanities subject* degree anyway?’. They’re idiots. You can do whatever you want to do, as long as you work hard and keep your head on straight (and, please, for the love of everything, stop being such a drama queen).

Speaking of idiots, I’ve got some bad news for you. We were blessed and cursed with going to a good school. Unlike some other people, we can’t later sit back and watch our bullies end up with a shitty job and living in a shitty place and look down at them. We have to watch those bullies, those secondary school bitches, do well, and that sucks. Really sucks. We have to watch them and hear about them going to university, getting degrees, getting jobs, getting married and having great lives. But I’ll let you in on a secret – when you hear that one of them hasn’t done so well? It’s. The. Best.

Now for a bit of a pep talk. You need to bloody well stand up for yourself. And, again, I know, you’re rubbish in the moment. Even now I think of brilliant comebacks to insults hurled my way over five years ago. You’ll write what you think are fantastic stories (don’t worry, your ideas are good but your writing isn’t so great right now – that will get better) with these strong female characters that don’t let anyone hurt them, standing their ground retorting with the most incredible comebacks it’s a wonder their enemies don’t just fall at their feet. You get hung up on that a lot. So much so that you call one of your best friends the Comeback Queen, because she seems so unruffled and somehow manages to snap right back at anyone who tries to be mean to her. You’ll try to be like her for a while, convinced that she is who you want to be, but you need to stop trying to be other people. Honestly, you’ll figure it out soon, but just try and be yourself and stop getting hung up about everyone else.

Time for some good news: we get into our dream uni, we manage to get onto our dream course doing our favourite subjects, and we make fantastic friends along the way. We learn that it’s ok to be the one who’s obsessed with books, so much so that you start working at a well-known bookshop and start up a book blog to help control your addiction. You stop caring that you become that person who always posts dog photos on social media (oh yeah, did I mention that we get a dog? Because we do, and he’s our best friend) because really, it does not matter what other people think. You be you.

Now, keep your head up, keep going and, once more, stop being a drama queen. Don’t splutter at me, you know very well what I mean. Now go back to pestering Mum and Dad about getting a dog – I’m 99% certain they bought Pete just to shut us up.

All my love (and luck),

You from the future.

P.s – stay away from boys. They’re icky.