It’s a funny thing, this getting older lark. One glance at a shelf in any card shop is enough to let you know that we’re supposed to be collectively terrified of it, and yes, I do my fair share of ‘Can you believe how close we’re getting to thirty? So scary’ – but at the same time, I’m really enjoying what’s happening as the years pass by.
This weekend I was catching up with one of my housemates from university, discussing a recent trip she took alone. We spoke about how our outlook on life and on ourselves as women in our late twenties (rather than the 18 year olds we’d been when we first met) affected experiences like this. It was then that we touched upon something that I’ve become more and more aware of in recent years, and I think it’s one of my favourite things about growing older; getting to know yourself. Getting to grips with my whole, true self rather than claiming to be what I or anyone else thinks I should has made me feel empowered in so many aspects of life.
When I was younger I was unsure of pretty much all things, but none more so than myself. Who I was, what I wanted, what I was supposed to be doing with my life – it was all a mystery, and one I had no idea how to solve, so I went for the tried and tested method of just doing the things that I thought other people either did or wanted me to do, and hoping for the best. It’s probably something we all did to varying degrees, and this same tactic in a number of different guises was one I employed for many years of adolescence and young adulthood (I’m still here now, so it obviously went okay, but I’m also a bit of an idiot so who knows).
As I’ve passed through my mid twenties though, this has started to change. I can actually feel that I’m becoming more assured with who I am and what I want with every month and year that goes by, and having talked about it at the weekend I’m having a moment of appreciation for what it’s brought me so far. Getting to know ourselves is both a very wonderful feeling and a journey we should embrace – sort of like cultivating a relationship with someone you really like who also really likes you, in a way, but even better because you get to be both parts and you don’t have to decide whose parents to go to for Christmas dinner.
In many ways the development of the relationship (shall we leave this metaphor here? It could get creepy if we try to take it further…) happens naturally as time passes, and in others we need to cultivate it ourselves – we have to be willing to explore the person we are, work on letting the best parts of them shine, accept the things we’ve seen as weaknesses, and let the more unfiltered version of ourselves come out in the person the world sees too. It’s one of those ‘easier said than done’ things sometimes, but the effect is liberating and empowering. Getting to know yourself allows you to be selfish, to be kind, to be brave, to be honest, and to become more adept at letting go of the things that you can’t be bothered to care about anymore.
The older I get, the less emphasis I place on what other people think. I’m slowly getting to grips with my own values, beliefs, passions and priorities, and I’ve become both more aware of all the little things that make me who I am and more appreciative of them. I’m far from being sussed and I still have my fair share of uncertainty, of course, but this is something I’ve become more accepting of too. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up yet, and I don’t know what house I’m going to live in, and dear god don’t go asking me about a 10 year plan, but I understand some of the things that truly makes me happy, and perhaps more importantly for now, what does not.
And it is this that makes me a different person than I was at 18, at 21, at 24, to the one I am now. I can literally feel myself changing, but not into someone else – into myself. It took me by surprise at first, but I’ve found that I’ve started to like the person I am more, too.
And the best thing is yet to come, I think – I’m the grand old age of 27, after all. To some that might make me a crusty old relic and to others it might make me a young whippersnapper. In fact, I imagine that if I were to read this when I’m 45 (hi, 45 year old Soph, if you are indeed reading), I’ll think ‘what is she on about thinking she knows herself, she barely knows her own name yet’. It may well be true; there’s more to come, I know, and that’s a really exciting prospect. So while I might not know everything, here are some things about myself that I absolutely do know;
I know that travel is one of the things that I find most fulfilling. I know that I both love and need time alone. I know that I can flourish when I step out of my comfort zone. I know that I don’t fucking like drum and bass music and I’m not going to pretend to. I know that an evening of sitting in someone’s living room reminiscing with my oldest friends can be the best evening in ages, and so can an unexpected night out. I know that when I want to go home from said night out then I bloody well will. I know that I still have no idea what I’m doing at times and that that’s okay. And, because I haven’t even mentioned the outfit yet, I know that I can wear a damn baker boy hat even when I think I might possibly look a bit ridiculous, because the only person who needs to approve of my appearance is me.
Jacket – Primark | Hat – H&M | Top – New Look | Jeans – New Look | Boots – River Island | Bag – Parfois | Fishnet socks – New Look
Photos: Rob Poor