Sunday, 12 June 2016


disneyworld fantasyland tangled image

My hair hangs at the base of my back, and is not as golden as it used to be. I now have two silver scars on my left leg, three on my arm and one on my hand. My skin is flat where rosy cheeks used to be. Some things happen with age.

I always say that 21 was my glory age, and every year after that got progressively worse. You expect to have your shit together by 25, but it was probably the hardest, most traumatic year out of them all. The good news is that it is very nearly over.

It all sounds very much like another case of the quarter life crisis. Another twenty something using the Internet to moan incessantly about the complexities of adulthood. You've heard it all before. Your finger hovers above that grey cross in the corner of your computer. Except, you know that it's not a crisis. You know that sadness, confusion, and terror are all part of the human existence. Is there anything we're not afraid of?

Don't be so dramatic, Shelley. 

I can practically hear the people I know roll their eyes into the back of their skulls. It's a heavy eye roll, the kind I give someone when they complain about money but don't have to pay rent. Here she goes again.

Sometimes I'm very vain, and age itself bothers me. Like the fact I have this one weird hair on my face, an obvious family heirloom inherited from my mother. My skin scars where it has blemished, and concealer fights against faint lines by my eyes. I shake vanity off like light rain, like any other temporary inconvenience. These are the least of my worries.

The last 12 months have felt like hundreds. Seasons came and wildflowers went with them, as life moved on. We started again.

My brain rebooted itself by using it's emergency supply. When the rest of you shuts down, your anxiety takes control. Fight or flight, there were blips in my brain, with the old me thrown in boxes in the corner. Ghosts would peek over the edges of cardboard.

My mind hummed with glitter and locusts. Bright little lights signalled distress, alert to the malfunction. There were short circuits everywhere, and panic made itself comfortable. Eventually, something rerouted. Wiring was altered.

Even after I started to shift through recovery, I still felt like I was walking in the dark. It was like finding pieces of my old life, and trying to match them up. There was comfort in putting together pieces of old jigsaws like pretty little puzzles, and telling stories like campfire legends.

Even after the worst, I still bumbled around like a little girl in her mother's pearls. Oxblood lipstick makes me feel like a grown up, but it doesn't quite sit right. I tried to figure out what a grown up version of myself should be, because nothing so far was working. Adulthood is just a word, and we're all just pretending to get there. We put on masks and pay our bills, we do the things that grown ups do.

Life got a little complicated, to say the least. Friends, family, money. It all changed, and it was all new territory. I looked for exits everywhere.

Everything became loud, like hearing voices underwater. Nothing sounded articulate or meaningful, everything was a loud rumble. One day, I told this to my doctor, who told me to "stop breathing. Apparently, that helps. Something about good and bad oxygen, all I know is that it didn't work.

I went through trauma. They say that is what happens sometimes, that it is just recovery.

Then, I lost a job, and found another. I learned more about what I was capable of, both professionally and personally.

I learned a lot about my ambition, and about how far I'm willing to go. A year ago, I would have given anything to type everyday, and I realise I'm lucky to spend my day doing just that (among other things). I learned that typing itself wasn't enough, and I've still got ink to print.

I learned that I need a mentor, but I've not yet found one. Real talk: Is there some kind of sign up service for inspirational writing folk? Can someone let me know?

Emotionally, I became difficult to handle. Not dramatic, just unpredictable. I've grown a lot over the last few years, and have abandoned the melodrama that headlined my early twenties. I became more sombre, and thoughtful. I stopped using my mouth as a weapon. Honestly, I became less of a bitch.

I will say that I've gained a lot of perspective, and my eyes have shifted to where they need to be. My focus is less on what should be happening, and more on what is happening right now. My focus is on letting light in my life, on scratching the match. The idea is to ignite a light of my own, and stop expecting others to have some to spare.

These days, I spend a lot of time making others laugh because it distracts me. I am actually quite funny, guys, even though I can be pretty doom and gloom. I swear, I'm a hoot and a half. I've invested time in nurturing friendships, and detoxing from others. I've also added a few invaluable skills to my CV, such as;

  • Holding the record for the most time someone can spend discussing vaginas in the office
  • 100% success rate in getting radio shout outs
  • GIF genius

Ten years ago, I was just about to start my A Levels. I was just about to get into my first, most damaging relationship. I was about to figure out what I wanted in life. I had long hair to my waist, and I adopted Converse as part of my daily uniform. Some things have come full circle.

Birthday candles will be waiting soon, but wishing and hoping never got me too far. 26 will come, and it will go. This year, I'll take it one day at a time.