I think we’re okay.
As I write this, I’m whizzing past hills, seas and rivers on the 11am East Coast service from Edinburgh Waverley, due to arrive at London Kings Cross at 15.42. I’m on the way back from my annual jaunt to the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m exhausted, my throat and my purse are both very sore and I am pretty certain I have scurvy. However my brain and my heart are buzzing. For one week I have laughed until I ached, met lovely new friends and caught up with dear old ones and watched work which made me think, gasp and feel wholly inspired.
I find Edinburgh Fringe quite an emotional place. It becomes a bubble for those who are there and quickly turns into a reality, one that is littered with flyers and laminated passes dangling round necks from lanyards. Because the nights are always late, the hangovers are painful, the pressure to fill venues is intense and the joy at gadding about in and out of bars and shows with your chums is glorious, emotions do run very high. I feel like I always take something away with me from the Fringe (and I don’t mean the bazillion flyers that I find each year at the bottom of my bag. Flyers are for the fringe what sand is to the beach. GETS EVERYWHERE). No, I mean I always come away with a busy brain full of thoughts to think. Each year I rock in and out of the various drinking holes to link arms with old pals and catch up, and what struck me most this year is how we’re doing okay. Me and the gang. We’re doing it. We’re doing life. And we’re okay. I listened to them chatting about their lives, what they’ve got on, what news they had and I thought, “Yeah. We’re okay guys. We are figuring the shit out of life.”
Much has been made recently in the media of the ‘Quarter-Life-Crisis’. And I’m a bit bored of it to be honest. I’m feeling more like, STOP telling me I’m having a crisis world! I’m doing okay! I’m chipping away at life and going for it. I am literally doing it myyyyyyyyyyy waaaayyyyyyyyyyy it’s just not the way that the world thinks I should. I’m starting to finally get bored of beating myself up all the time. I think it’s time to start having some pride in our twenties.
I’m not perfect. I mean, I worry a lot. I drink too much and I swear too much. I worry that having relationships is just something that happens to other people. I worry that I won’t have time to read all the books I want to read. I don’t watch box sets, I can’t commit to them so I can never join in conversations about them, which makes me feel out of touch. I like writing in pencil, because you can rub out your mistakes. I make really bad decisions sometimes. I feel guilty when I can’t go to the birthday celebrations of friends and convince myself that everyone hates me. I regularly forget to text and call people back. I wish I had longer legs, thicker hair and cheeks that weren’t so chubby rather than a mild heart condition, polycystic ovaries and a tongue-tie which means I can’t stick my tongue out. I like Disney films, I drink Starbucks and sometimes after a night out, I eat McDonalds. I’m WELL not perfect.
But you know, WAH WAH WAH. I’m also determined, driven and I work jolly hard. I follow my dreams because I think they know the best route. Yes, I don’t have a house, and I’m not engaged and I’m not a size 8. Nor are a lot of my friends. But they are brilliant and funny, kind and talented, and I am fiercely proud of everything they do and the dreams they have. I would love us to reclaim whatever the term ‘success’ means because I look at these people around me, and I just think, there is no way you could ever be described as a failure. We work HARD and we aim HIGH and it’s time we stop berating ourselves, and telling ourselves that we’re failing just because we are not living an outdated model of life, one that tells us what we have to have and who we have to be. I want to be an actress, a writer, a business owner, a homeowner, a mother, a wife and be a bloody good mate all at the same time (I’d STILL really like to open ‘Nobody Puts Gravy In The Corner’ too). Maybe in my life I’ll do all those things, maybe I’ll only ever do one. Either is fine. Because I know that the whole time I’ll be okay. I still will be kind to people and passionate and have a team of gobby best mates and my family and hopefully my body will still work well enough to carry my spirit throughout my days. My page will unfold and it may have some creases and smudges on it, but it will still be intact.
What I’m really trying to say, in my usual word-vomitty CAPITAL LETTERS type way, is that we only think we’re doing badly because we judge ourselves against impossible standards that are bombarded at us from all directions. Facebook tells me another old friend from primary school is getting married and I judge myself for not being engaged. Twitter tells me that someone’s got an amazing new job, and I beat myself up because I still temp. I open a magazine and see the pouting pretties and wish I was anyone else but me. And that feeling is getting jolly boring. So I’m going to try to stop doing that and instead, I’m going to try to take pride in my life and congratulate myself on my small successes. JOIN ME WON’T YOU! HOORAY I remembered my friends birthday and send a card in the post! HOORAY I had some nice feedback from an audition! HOORAY a few people liked and shared my writing (wink nudge)! I will always wish I had smaller thighs, but you know, the ones I’ve got work and they’re okay. We’re all, quite literally, okay. So yeah, that’s what I took away from Edinburgh Fringe this year.
Quarter-life crisis? hahahahahahahahaahahahaha. Strap in guys, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.