The scene is set at a table outside. The chairs and yellow banner with the coffee shop name, replicate a café in Italy – somewhere on a cobbled street corner. Growing up, the most beautiful town I saw was in Greece.
I had a huge crush on the waiter at my favourite place to grab lunch. This awkward, 8-year-old girl with chubby cheeks who wore trainers on holiday, wanted a twenty-something guy to find her attractive.
It’s recently occurred to me, that in a few months’ time – my age is closer to 30 than 20. A gigantic slice of my twenties has forever disappeared, and only survives in lost memory.
What was I supposed to do?
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I miss being 8
I never liked being a child. I was not popular at school and sometimes faced bullying. Everyone told me I was quiet and shy – I was an awkward girl who wanted to live in Tammy tracksuits and vests that read ‘Babe 49’ and ‘Chic’.
My childhood whisked by. Having surgeries made me mentally older, but I also built up a makeup collection from aged 12.
The dream was to look like a beautiful woman – someone sexy, glamorous and confident. I thought that would make me happy and remove my insecurities.
Looking back at my young self – I see the most flawless skin. Long, shiny hair, and thick brows that don’t require a brow pencil. The whole world was ahead of me, and all I wanted was to grow up and remove that chunk of life.
What I would do to sit in Greece now; eat a delicious meal and realise my only worry is to have fun. No pressure to impress anyone except my parents.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I love my early twenty mistakes
I had a need to shed my ‘innocent’ image. Tired of being labelled as plain and good, my outfits became revealing.
I basked in male attention; I wanted to flaunt my curves at every opportunity, and I dyed my hair black. Dark red lipstick adorned my lips, along with thick, jet-black eyeliner.
My heart fell in love with a guy who had to travel back home after uni. Then I fell in love again, with a man much older; his worldly knowledge and charm made me feel like I had been cocooned – out of my shell and suddenly flying free.
I’ve lost a lot of friends. Some incredibly close, other’s not so.
My travels are not long-listed, but each taught me something new about life.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I no longer care
Our twenties are about discovery. It’s a decade that considered young – with the ability to act independent.
Instead of accepting our journey’s ahead – we panic. I panicked.
Someone would say – you need to live a little more. Stop being so scared. Then I’d go and get raving drunk and smoke a cigarette – one or two puffs.
The morning would awake to me anxious of a person assuming I’m too wild or desperate to look cool.
I’d look at someone posing in near-nudity – proud of every crease and line attached to their body. I would do the same, before fretting whether I come across as arrogant or a little cheap.
If we were having coffee, I would acclaim I’m at my happiest
For the first time, I’m not afraid to age. I’m not trying to grip on to my youth, and write a bucket-list of all the things I have yet to do.
I choose to not live in regret; nor size up my life to comparisons.
I’m not worrying that life is washing by.
I have changed. I’m 25 and not 21. I’m self-aware – capable to digest self-awareness. I hit rock bottom and have a story to tell.
Growing up, I gave away plenty of years to insecurity and sadness. Growing up, I glanced at someone else to gain approval.
I don’t need to consume my head with those thoughts. I’m working hard for what I want, and I hope when all is said and done – my life will please me, and be shamelessly reckless to those who don’t approve.
How would you describe growing up? Do you look forward to getting older, or do you wish to permanently stay your current age? What’s been your favourite age in life so far and why?
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