By the age of seventeen, Jesus had gotten sick of his Birthday. The cake was okay, and the presents had improved since the days of the stable, but every birthday took him closer to an impossible task, something he didn’t feel able to do.
It’s a bit much to wake up on your birthday, and realise you’re supposed to save the world. Just a boy, jumped on by all the world’s sin, sent to sink it into his skin, and destroy himself for the damned, so that they could be clean again.
It hung heavy over him, the heaviest whenever anyone said “Happy Birthday”, because it reminded him that his life would be short, and he should treasure each second, counting down each slice of cake and wrapped up wonder, wondering if they’d be his last.
His parents had scrimped and saved to get some secondhand tools, so that he could start work, but he had started to ask himself what the point was, when he wouldn’t make it past thirty, but still, he sacrificed, smiling and giving his best grateful hug, because sacrificing was that little lamb did best.
Let’s start with something positive (not that this post will be negative, but you know…) Congratulations on completing the London Marathon! I’ll probably never do this. I could pretend it’s because I’m busy at work, or otherwise occupied, but the truth is, that is part of my “Lazy Millennial” quota. Mother does not play that, so perhaps you’ve already beaten me at life before my whiney open letter has begun. Seriously though, that is an awesome achievement, and your articles on that were great fun to read.
I love unicorns, and I’m over 13. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I don’t care what you think, because I obviously care enough to write a blog post, but I do hope you’ll reconsider considering me infantile, due to this choice.
I mean, if you don’t, I won’t be crying into my Spider-Man spaghetti, but it would be nice.
I will start by being pedantic, and saying that as an adult, I can decide what is for kids and what is for me, and that I’m saying unicorns for everyone.
Okay, now imagine I’m poking my tongue out at you.
Go on, I’ll wait.
Okay, I’m done being intolerable and I’m going to talk seriously now. Let’s continue.
If my parent’s were honest, they’d say they found the beginnings of adult life difficult, and that the struggle never really goes away. I completely respect that. As it all turns out, being alive is actually quite hard, and the adult thing to do, is to be honest, at least with yourself, and find ways to deal with that.
You mentioned in your article that some members of older generations would manage the struggles of adulthood with drugs and alcohol, and while I respect their right to do so, if they really must, it isn’t for me. To be real, the NHS is in a bad state, and I’m not out here trying to make it worse by taking up their time with something self inflicted that could have been avoided by managing my stress in another way.
It’s all well and good to say that taking it easy and just having a drink or two to take the edge off is a harmless coping strategy, but high levels of stress can leave people susceptible to falling into bad habits with drinking, so it doesn’t seem a logical way to deal with stress and pressure, if you ask me (I’m aware that you didn’t.. also, is it still mansplaining if we’re both women?) because it can be a slippery slope, and I don’t own any shoes that are practical for regular ground, let alone slopes that are slippery.
Also, just to be pedantic again, but many under 25’s are not entitled to the national living wage, and many employers are unwilling to reward equal work with equal pay for all ages of staff, so some can’t afford drink and drugs whenever life gets too much anyway, even if they don’t intend to binge.
So, that’s drugs and drink out the window, so where do I go from there? I could take up some kind of sport, I guess, but I’ve never been the competitive type (I’m a Guardian reading pacifist, unfortunately), and I also have no actual skill in that department, so I honestly feel I’d be wasting everyone’s time and energy, and it would conjure too many unfortunate PE related memories for my fragile little mind to manage.
I could list off another bunch of hypothetical stress relievers here that I don’t want to do, but I’ll just tell you the things I do do (insert infantile, unicorn themed giggle here) to escape from reality.
For a start, I write. Maybe not well, maybe not in a way everyone likes, maybe in a way that some find troubling or problematic, but I do it, and I have a good time.
I also enjoy fun, cute stuff, because, to be ridiculously dramatic (I have a GCSE in drama and I’m not about to waste it), the world is pretty grim, and occasionally I want to brighten it up a little.
The key point is, however, that while I do spend my spare time writing soppy love poetry, with a unicorn pen (occasionally crayons), I’m still a hard working, well adjusted person who has earned the right to do it.
I’m still engaged in the world around me (yes, even when I’m “Always on that phone” as my dear Abuela says), I am still realistic about the path my life will take, and the way the world works, and have faced up to the lowered expectations of what I thought life could be, and am getting on with making the best of what I have. If I choose to do all that while sipping on a unicorn drink, does it make these things less valid?
Am I a little bit silly sometimes? Of course, but I’m an adult when it counts. Spending a few minutes of downtime drinking something cute, or listening to a Disney playlist gives the quick break I need so I can get back to taking on the world, and dealing with the real issues in my life, such as my absurd excuse for a sleep pattern, my high pressure job, and my quest to reach my 80’s without thinking I wasted time stifling the parts of me that other people thought weren’t appropriate anymore .
Liking pretty, glittery things hasn’t drastically impacted on my ability to function as an adult, or diminished my achievements and skills in the eyes of the other adults around me, because the past, as brightly as I was dressed during most of it, has still constructed a resilient and capable young woman, and that doesn’t disappear when I sit down to watch a cartoon, or dye my hair pink.
I’ve survived the crushing disappointment of gaining a degree and finding no jobs waiting for me, the rejection letters and self doubt that came with it, the sadness of having to lower my expectations in regards to my childhood dreams of a big house, with a garden and a pool, and the sadness of lowering them again, because a decent, reasonably priced one bedroom flat with some heating and maybe a good sized bathroom is also unrealistic these days. I’ve faced wage gaps due to my age and gender, a Tory government, racism, Brexit, Steps splitting up, violence in relationships, bereavement, and so many other difficult things, and I’m still here. Glittery, defiant and annoying as hell, I’m sure, but I’m still here.
I am prepared to take on the adult world, to make tough decisions, struggle through hard times, and then struggle some more, I just choose to do it with pink nail varnish on.
The fact is, millennials are nothing if not resilient. We’re still here. We are still working on making careers for ourselves, and utilising the technology that many say we are addicted to, to find new ways of making money and finding sustainable and secure work. We are utilising social media as an additional tool to present ourselves and to learn more about the world around us, as well as to connect with those we care for, when we can’t be close to them.
I’ve seen millennials start their own businesses to create changes they want to see in the world, I’ve seen them embrace science and technology to create solutions to problems that they face. Millennials are opening their minds to new possibilities in what society can be, and are embracing the differences in the people around them. Millennials are politically engaged and aware of what is unfolding around them. Is it really fair to invalidate all this because they don’t adopt the typical adult aesthetic?
You could argue that being enthusiastic about fun, colourful things is infantile, but surely the entire sum of someone’s actions means more than just a few parts, no matter how brightly coloured they are?
We have grown up. We are here, in the adult world, doing adult things. To say that this is erased simply because someone older than us can’t see past what mug we drink from, or what coffee we order, says more about their own maturity than it does ours, right? Millennials have more than proven they can hang with the rest of the adults, and we have earned our stripes, and have a right to paint them rainbow if we want to.
Wishing you nothing but the best, in monochrome if you prefer,
2017 is here! 2016 was a trek of a year, and quote difficult to get through in parts, but it is now time to look towards 2017, with careful optimism.
My goals for 2017 are:
I adore sleeping. If I could list it in the hobbies section of my CV, I would. Despite it being a favourite past time of mine, I do very little of it. I tend to get caught up with writing late in the evening, and before I know it, it is suddenly 1am, and my alarm is only four and a half hours away from forcing me out of bed. Therefore, I’ve decided in 2017, I’ll be attempting to get to sleep before midnight as often as possible, possibly earlier.
Learn A Third Language
I mentioned last year about learning another language, and began courses in Esperanto, and later Welsh, but I’ve yet to master either.
In 2017, I’m hoping to continue with at least one of them, and be able to handle basic conversations without having to constantly check.
Stop Blaming Myself For Bad Things That Happened To Me
In 2016, I accepted a lot of things in my life that had happened in the past, that I had been ignoring and pretending weren’t bothering me. However, accepting them did bring on a lot of guilt for not having said anything at the time, and therefore suffering through it far longer than I could have done.
While I’m not quite there yet (it is only January…), I’d like to reach a point where I don’t blame myself for what I went through or how long I went through it.
I can talk forever on other people not being to blame for bad things happening to them, but when it is me, I can’t help but review everything I did, and think about whether it really was my fault. I have to stop doing this, because there is no way I deserved a lot of the things in my past. There is no way a person can allow themselves to be hurt or abused, because the person who is hurting them is making a conscious choice to do so, and that is their actions, not the actions of the victim. Some people will argue that staying in the situation is allowing yourself to be victimised, but leaving a bad situation isn’t that simple. A lot of the time, you can’t find the confidence to be able to leave, you may feel like you deserve what is happening to you, you may physically be unable to leave. Just leaving isn’t an option for the vast majority of people.
What I’m getting at, is that a person shouldn’t be blamed for something they didn’t want to endure in the first place.
This all seems good on paper (or on screen) but whether I make it through the year without sinking back into blaming myself remains to be seen.
Be Less Afraid Of Conversation
If you’ve ever texted me, or called me, or tweeted me, or anything, you may find that I either don’t reply, or I reply sporadically. If you’ve ever tried to have a real life conversation with me, it has probably been an even worse experience. I haven’t yet figured out why, but I am quite intimidated by one on one conversations with people. Maybe it is a fear of not being liked, or saying the wrong thing? Either way, whatever it is, I’m going to try and move forward with this, because frankly, 2016 was horrible, so I’m sure most people I meet have endured far worse than a conversation with me.
Finish My Novel
This is perhaps my most optimistic one. I’ve been writing my novel since about 2013, and it has had so many changes, rewrites and so on, that I really should be finished, but I’m not. I would like to finish it by 2018, if possible, even if it never sees the light of day, I just want to be able to sleep at night knowing that I finally finished something I started when I was still young and optimistic about my abilities, or whatever.
Stop Referring To Myself As Old
You may notice I’ve already stumbled on this one, literally one paragraph up.
I’m only twenty four, but I feel about sixty (please no jokes about my taste in men) most days. I’m not that old, really, and I honestly have plenty of time to do all the things I want, have some adventures and adopt a turtle, so I would like to stop worrying and edging closer to a mid life crisis before my time.
When I was at university, someone I knew at school suddenly died in a tragic accident, and I think since then, as self absorbed as it may be, I’ve struggled with the idea of mortality. I knew before then that I’d eventually die, because I hadn’t applied myself in science class, and would therefore be unable to invent some kind of immortality serum, but I’d never really thought too deeply about it until then. Having someone I knew dying so young made me suddenly panic about how much time I had left, and how much of my elaborate and ridiculously big life plan I could fit into that time.
I began rushing to try and do multiple things at once. I started training to be a wrestler, I got engaged, I released a book that was nowhere near ready to be published, I started planning to move to London full time. I tried to do all the things I wanted because I figured I might not have the option of waiting until I was actually ready to do them. As it all turns out, that was a terrible way of doing things, and while I’m still busy and a bit ahead of myself, I’m hoping this year to slow down, put less pressure on myself and let things happen when they are supposed to.
I’m not overjoyed at the idea of death, and I don’t think I ever will be, but I’m hoping to let my life go where it goes, without worrying constantly and trying to do a million things at once, so I can enjoy the few things I have.
I’m twenty four, twenty five next month, and that is fine. It isn’t too late for me, and it never really was. I don’t have to hate ageing, because it isn’t an automatic end of my ambitions, it just means I’m better equipped to do what I want.