THE BIRTHDAY

Lifestyle

large (12)It’s that wonderful time of year again where I gain a wrinkle, four grey hairs and have a crisis of age.

I love birthdays.

Obviously the cards, presents and celebratory food cushion the blow, but why do I always panic when I realise that I’m another year older despite understanding – since the tender age of five – the simple concept of time?

Despite this blind, undying ignorance, birthdays aren’t all bad. Because mine happens to fall in the spring time – the season best known for new beginnings, bunny rabbits and general pinterest-worthy joyousness – I always treat them like a second New Year. I pledge vows to myself and set targets for the year ahead by reflecting on the things I’d have done differently, and of course, I rarely stick to my promises. So I thought, why break the habit of a life time?

Because I’m older, and a little wiser now. That’s why.

It’s essential to think about improvement, but it’s equally as important to realise how far you’ve come. So I will start by thinking about the things that I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Here goes:

One. Things take time. This includes everything from projects, to love.

Don’t. Rush. Anything.

Two. Most people deserve a second chance. Rarely do people deserve a third.

Three. Do not, under any circumstances, fad diet. Just maybe cut down on the Kit Kats.

Four. Yoga is a whole lot more than stretching in tight pants. The older you get, the more you’ll realise this.

And five. Having fewer good friends is better than having lots of shit ones.

I could go on and on, as 25 years is actually quite a long time, but the gist is this: things will always be okay. Yes, I have had my heartbroken, but it’s fixed now. Of course, I have failed at things, but I’ve succeeded in so many others. And, much like you, I cut my own hair once. Badly. But it’s grown out now. What I’m trying to say is, despite living with these goddamn freckles and a butt the size of Narnia my entire life, there are plenty of people who would kill to be you or I. So instead of trying to better ourselves each year, why not give ourselves a pat on the back, just for making it this far? Because life isn’t always a lemon sorbet on The Serpentine, if you know what I mean? And we’re probably doing alright, considering.

Behind a haze of pollution and astonishing drink prices, it’s really rather easy to forget why you’re alive, but when your birthday swings round, and people come together just to celebrate the simple fact that you were born, it all, very suddenly, becomes oh so clear.

Always be thankful for what you have. And I’m not talking about that new camera.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE NOD

Mindfulness

0fd4939e55d089784ad57f97ed57501bCharles Bukowski once said that, “the problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

Although I might have tried to say it with a little more tact, I wholeheartedly agree: the more knowledge you have, the more aware you are of what could go wrong. However, what I will say, is that knowledge doesn’t evenslightly compare with the value of experience; hence why we go to our elders for advice, rather than those our junior.

Experience allows you to know what to expect of each challenge that is to follow. It gives you the benefit of hindsight and practical sense. You begin to realise that the things you panic about are a rarity, and that when they do go wrong, it’s generally no biggie. It’s how you deal with the problems you face- that’s the real test.

Or is it?

Some people find actually saying YES to things in the first place the hardest thing to do. It can vary from changing their coffee order from a cappuccino to a latte, to a drastic career change. It can be taking on more responsibility at work that scares you, or saying YES to a proposal you’ve been waiting five years for. Sometimes, we fear things because they are the unknown, and others because we hold such high expectations for them. Either way, if you want something (and it doesn’t hurt anybody else), then take the leap.

It’s so easy to let time tick by on the mundane clock. Work, home, eat, sleep. But with that, time slips through your fingers like sand, and before you know it, five years have passed you by on the 7.46 to Waterloo.

At work, people used to ask me why I didn’t sit still. They couldn’t understand why I was always busy in the evenings and why I didn’t want to just sink into my duvet on a weeknight. I could never give them a reason, except for “why not?” and I always felt that that wasn’t enough to justify my hectic lifestyle.

Now, with hindsight, I realised that was the perfect answer. I was curious, never complacent and rarely bored. Nowadays, particularly in this cold, February climate, I love getting snuggled up with Netflix and snacks. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but every night? Maybe it has something to do with me being 25 but – seeing as that isn’t even old – I think it’s just because I say no to things more often.

My parents would tell me at this point to shut up. They would say that I’m still always on the move and rarely sit down, but I’ve seen a change in how much I get up to and I need to get my curiosity back.

Going through a break up is prime time for people to say no to things. You feel like you need to spend time alone, but when you challenge yourself to head out with your mates, you know you’ll laugh at least once- and that’s once more than if you sat in bed alone eating too much pizza. Sometimes, when you’re offered an opportunity at work that’s a little out of your comfort zone, you’ll say no for fear of getting it wrong. Did anyone ever shout at you for not knowing your times tables on arrival at nursery? Didn’t think so. Everything is a challenge when it’s new, so embrace it and do your best- that’s all anyone wants. And dating someone new? Totally terrifying. But you aren’t handcuffed to the seat, so make your excuses and leave; this ain’t no fifty shades situation (unless you want it to be).

I want you now to think about all the things you have said YES to in the course of your life – focus only on sober choices please or else it will have been a wasted exercise – and think about how much better you are for seizing all of those opportunities. Some of them might have turned out to be a disaster and others might have been a spectacular success. Either way, you will have learned something.

I used to love exploring the world and now I find it tedious. Even the thought of having to navigate Glastonbury is overshadowing all the fun that I’ll be having at the moment. It’s time to get off my butt and get excited about things again, the way that a child does on Christmas morning. My surroundings haven’t grown tired, they’re still moving and changing all around me, I’m just ignoring them.

So now to top up my Oyster, ask who’s free and say YES to things.

Who needs a holiday?