Wednesday, 27 February 2013

"'Cause I'm afraid to say that we ain't forever young"

Every so often, it hits me that I'm only nineteen; should I be worrying about paying my bills on time, holding down a full time job and what I'm going to cook for dinner? Should I be spending money on cleaning products and scented candles to make my house more 'cosy'? I should be treating my parents' house like a hotel, studying something pointless at University that won't benefit me at all in later years and will just fund my habit of being stupidly irresponsible when I mix with alcohol. The last thing on my mind should be what day will I find the time to clean my oven and defrost my freezer. Instead, I find myself thinking about my favourite fabric softener and whether I've remembered my keys in the morning.

I moved 64 miles away from my Mum and Dad 11 days before my 19th birthday. I went to bed reading recipe books for the first two weeks and my weekends consisted of washing, ironing and cleaning. When I lived with my parents, my biggest responsibility was remembering to lock the door when I drunkenly stumbled home at 5am. All of a sudden, I was having to remember to put money aside for food and travel and to pay my rent on time. As much as I love the independence and the freedom, I sometimes question why I'm putting myself through the stress of pretending I'm a lot more 'together' than I actually am.

I've come to the conclusion that I like people to think I'm older than my actual age. I don't really get on with people my own age...I don't know why, I never have really, but I'd much rather spend my time with people I admire and respect than another 19 year old talking about how much weed they smoked the night before and how difficult it is trying to work out what they want to do with their life. I already know it's hard to find your own place in the world - I don't need somebody to reiterate it for me. I want people to encourage me, to evoke a confidence inside of me that I never knew existed so that I can truly believe things work out well, to give me advice on how to make things make sense and to inspire me with their wisdom, their adventures and their knowledge.

Because of this, I've always found myself surrounded by people older than me. Be it by two years or twenty, I much prefer having a friendship based on the fact that we both benefit from it and not just because we *should* be friends because we're the same age. One of the things I hated about school was that it automatically placed people in age range as opposed to ability; I've met 13 year olds smarter than most 19 year olds and they just don't get the credit they deserve because they're stuck at a level they've outgrown. Hence why I think being around older people has turned me into a 19 year old with the mind of a 40 year old.

I sometimes find myself forgetting that I was born in 1993 because being surrounded by older people has given me a level of experience and knowledge that a 19 year old shouldn't possess. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I'm just saying that usually, we should experience certain situations as we mature and (un)fortunately, I've just happened to stumble across them at a younger age because of my friends and who I choose to surround myself with. It works in my favour though because I get the experience but nobody can moan at me because I can throw out the old "I'm only 19, I didn't know what would happen" card; I'm quite grateful that I'm in a position to have the best of both worlds but sometimes it can be a bit of a nightmare. I get myself into situations I don't have the mental capacity to deal with yet and I find myself desperately relying on older friends to help to dig me out of the awkward mess I've managed to stumble into.

As human beings, we're constantly learning and being taught things by the people we encounter (if you open your eyes and ears to their lessons) on a daily basis and it's one of the things I love the most about this crazy thing we call life. I owe a lot of my life experience on friends throwing me into the deep end, ranting at me at 2am in the morning about transfats and individuality, sending me e-mails at 3am about how to be a better person and reminding me, every second of every day, that life is nothing but a beautiful struggle. We have to learn how to enjoy the ride in order to truly appreciate the destination and I just can't imagine really understanding that if I spent my time with people my own age. I'm in a lucky position right now and the things I witness, I only understand because of who I'm with at the time.

I might not be 100% mentally aware of the same things my friends are clued up on but they're teaching me without realising it. They're giving me ammunition to fuel my own fire so that when I'm FINALLY 30, I'm as logical as I can be when it comes to love, life and all that's in between. They've shared their disaster stories, their fairytales and they've dished the dirt on all the gossip along the way and I'm taking it all in with wide eyes and baited breath. I love that they're so willing to teach and to share and if I'm half the person that they are when I reach 30, I will be really fucking happy with myself.

But the difficulty is knowing that I am only 19, right now. As much as I love pretending to be older and experiencing things that other people my own age might not get to experience, I have to remember that I'm not ready to witness certain things or to be part of a particular situation just yet. Some things come with age and maturity. I can't rely on my friends to help me out forever because it'd be unfair to place that kind of responsibility on them. I can, however, ask them to provide me with as much knowledge as they possibly possess so I know when it's acceptable to make mistakes and when I should probably pay more attention to what's around me.

When I question whether I made the right decision in moving away and giving up what could have been at least another year of living responsibility free with my parents, I know I made the right decision. It's about placing yourself out of your comfort zone and following your heart. I'm only able to do these two things because I've learnt, and am still learning, how too from the best kind of people.
I want the knowledge and the experience and the wisdom that I see everyday in the faces of the people I respect the most; I want the 3am e-mails, the conversations that make no sense to anybody else, the nights out where you get in at 7am, the mornings that only ginger and lemon tea can fix, the positivity that seems to only come from people who know themselves and what they truly deserve; I've wanted all of that for a really long while.
I'd also like the skill of knowing when to stop drinking, the ability to say no to people and the courage and bravery that comes with age...but I guess somethings can only be taught over time...

"You're wise already and life is for living. It's exciting but the journey is all part of it."

Sunday, 10 February 2013

"What do you want to write about?" "I have no idea."..."That's the best thing you've ever said to me."

"Saturday mornings are made for regretting Friday nights but regrets just turn you bitter" were the words an elderly man said to me on Saturday morning. I was walking through Clapham North, wearing the same clothes as the night before, and it was quite obvious I hadn't removed my make-up from 8 hours previously. Any individual my own age would have looked me in the eye, mentally high fived me and carried on with their day but this man, this slightly crazy man with a beard Dumbledore would envy and tartan trousers covering his skinny legs, looked me in the eye and told me what he thought I wanted to hear. And I did want to hear that I'm not the only person to spend the majority of their Saturday mornings hungover, tired and questioning what really happened the night before. I wanted to hear that he too had spent many early hours of the weekend questioning whether anything had happened the night before that probably shouldn't have or whether my drunken antics would leave me in a state of panic as the day drew to a close. I wanted to hear every single one of his stories...I just didn't want to hear it at 10am, wearing tights I had been wearing for 24 hours.

This elderly man was just looking for somebody to talk too, somebody to listen as he spoke about regrets he held concerning his past loves, his career choices and how he had spent his weekends back in his youth. I just wanted to shower, go back to bed and listen to the Smiths all day. Looking back on the situation now, I wish I had stopped, offered to take him for a coffee and spent the day learning about this stranger; after all, that's how we make friends. Instead, I caught my bus, put my iPod on 'shuffle' and shut myself out from the world for the 25 minute bus journey back to the comfort of my own house.

I found it impossible to forget about the elderly man and for a week now, I've been wondering whether he could see beyond the obvious (24 hour old make-up, screwed up clothes and messy hair) and was telling me what he thought I needed to hear or whether he was just a little crazy and regularly walked around Clapham offering life advice to random strangers.

What I find weird though is how his presence in my life on Saturday morning changed my mindset for a little bit. This led me on to thinking how strange it is that we allow ourselves to be completely transformed by the people we meet throughout this surreal journey we call life. I never used to believe that the people around you could change your entire being so dramatically - I thought that only happened to the weak, not people who had a strong sense of being and a mindset laid out in stone. But overtime, I've realised that only the lucky ones allow themselves to have their world turned upside down by a handful of people they've just met. I've always gained inspiration from those closest to me, mainly because since the age of 16, I've always made sure my role models provided not only a level of positivity but also an education. I want to be taught, I have so much to learn and I'm lucky because I've always found guidance/role models in people with an intelligence I can't even explain.

Even though I barely remember his face, the man at Clapham North opened my very blurry eyes to the fact that I'm one of the lucky ones I mentioned above. Inspiration oozes from the majority of my friends and if it's not inspiration, it's love, creativity and positivity. Be it an e-mail, a text, a phone call, a tweet or a Facebook comment, any form of communication gets my brain whirring and in the last two weeks, I've seen such a positive change within myself, a change I can only put down to purging myself of the negativity I seemed to hoard within my life and opening my arms to the positivity I refused to acknowledge beforehand.

"Your energy has changed Vickers, you can completely see it. You seem different but in a good way."

I'm just being honest with myself now, I've got a long way to go before I'm halfway to where I want to be but I'm manifesting an awful lot to the Universe. If I've been lucky enough to be blessed with such brilliant people surrounding me, I'm pretty sure the Universe can make Caitlin Moran my drinking buddy/writing guru, teach me how to drive in two weeks (and fund the driving lessons) and somehow say thank you to the crazy old man who doesn't even realise how much of an effect his words have had on me. Universe, you rock.