I’ve struggled with stereotypes that surrounded my age for as long as I can remember. I never quite related to those in my age group – I lived life a lot faster. I vividly remember my father’s complaints on the matter; he’d frustratedly point out that I had skipped too many steps in life. It was never particularly my fault – the tumultuous childhood I experienced had forced me to mature at a much faster rate than normal. In fact, I don’t often reveal my age. I’m twenty years old – these very words tend to be rather off-putting to most. I suspect many fear twenty year olds and our reliability, or lack of it, and the spontaneous, emotional decisions that may overtake rationality. And to some extent, I find this to be understandable. Most twenty year olds I know are still chasing the unattainable, pulling wild all-nighters on work nights and prioritising trivial lustful encounters above all else. In other words – the life I lived from the ages of thirteen to seventeen. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying the wild spontaneity that accompanies our youth. I just happen to have grown tired of it at an earlier age.
I don’t miss most youthful experiences. I don’t miss unendurable hangovers, repulsive shots of vodka lime, staying out till sunrise and the odd men I gravitated towards in my younger years. I don’t miss the friend groups I surrounded myself with in secondary school and all the trivial gossiping that formed a part of them. I don’t miss the recklessness, the lack of freedom, the need to abide by a scholastic routine and the financial struggles I knew. I don’t miss the mental maturity I lacked; the emotions that often surpassed a logical approach to most pivotal matters.
So really, what I’m trying to say is, I don’t quite understand the obsession with our youth. The desire to never grow old? It is rather baffling. Perhaps it may be incredibly naive of me to write this, given my actual age, but it seems as though life only improves by the years. I love building on the experiences life sends our way, and the lessons that accompany them. I love growing as a creative individual, as a freelancer, as a working woman. Wisdom is one of the greatest traits one could boast. Ageing gracefully, without all the cosmetic enhancements we’re accustomed to? It’s alluring. But the best part of all are the stories we’ll be able to tell in our latter years – the stories that accumulate over the years. I already have so many of them, tucked at the back of my mind, ones I’ll share with you in the form of a published creation one day… I can only excitedly anticipate the many more that will come.
Youthfulness is often messy, it just isn’t the best time of life. And I am well aware that I am still very much a part of that category – I’m young. And still living my early years, building my very first experiences. And nowhere as stable as I will likely be in ten or twenty years’ time. And the lessons I’ve yet to learn, oh, I’m sure they’re plentiful. But that excites me, and while I embrace the spontaneity that my life often boasts, I don’t at all fear ageing. And I don’t understand why anyone would!
And so, I am twenty and self-employed. I’m kickstarting a part of my career that most don’t till their late twenties or thirties, hence why I’ve been faced with so much judgment and disapproval. This need to escape the hierarchal job structure was already very much a reality for me at school and uni, and so at twenty, with the start of a new era, I did. Many cannot relate, but when you’ve grown up surrounded by self-employed artists, and when creativity has been so deeply ingrained in your being since childhood, knowing what you want at age twenty isn’t unnatural. Actually, my career is all I’ve ever truly known. Because when all else seemed futile or complicated? My creative urges remained, surpassing all else.
I suppose I am an old soul. I grew up in a household of collectibles and vintage memorabilia, and now, you’ll find me chasing the beautiful pre-owned items that boast their own story. I’ll choose a glass of red wine over messy shots in a heartbeat, and classic clothing over anything else. I’ll switch between Liszt and Sinatra and struggle with most recent pop and rap songs. My friends, my partner, they’re mostly five to ten years older than myself. It’s inevitably a part of who I am. It is to no surprise that the decisions I make today are also not typically those made by others my age, but I’ll still unapologetically follow my dreams and encourage you to do the same.