TWENTY SEVEN.

As of today, I’m officially twenty seven, and what an odd year it’s been! Getting older is a strange feeling, and this year especially it feels like finally feeling like a ‘grown-up’ has hit me in a big way. So it felt right to spend some time taking a little look back at what twenty six brought me, and my hopes for twenty seven.

Twenty six brought lots of great moments, despite everything. We bought a house, we got engaged, and we spent lots of time planning for both renovations and a wedding sometime in the future. The pandemic also made me reconnect with lots of old friends over text and zoom, definitely something which may not have happened without all this free time at home.

This year made me re-evaluate my priorities. I am so grateful for my life with Felix, and it’s something I had really taken for granted. Twenty six really mixed up lots of happy, big relationship moments with the lowest low points and a whole load of the humdrum-ness of daily existence, and somehow within it all I finally realised just how lucky I am to have the life I do, with this other person beside me. I found a section in Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton that perfectly sums him up: ‘The perfect man is kind, funny and generous. He bends down to say hello to dogs and puts up shelves.’ Although we would never call each other or our relationship ‘perfect’, he is all of the above, and I want twenty seven to be the year where I let him know even more just how loved he is – even if our engagement might have to last a lot longer than we planned before we finally make it down the aisle.

Twenty six was also the year I finally spent more time in the great outdoors, despite balancing that with endless hours on the sofa watching Netflix. Finding time outside, whether out in our garden, the countryside near our house or on our weekly beach trips, is definitely something I want to keep this year and beyond. It’s also another thing I’m endlessly grateful to be able to do, when so many people don’t have access to outdoor spaces.

This year brought a lot of thinking space, of questioning everything I previously thought about my core beliefs and highlighting so many things I had never come across before, had overlooked or just never thought related to me. I have spent a lot of my life unaware of how important anti-racism work is, and how much more is necessary than just not using racist slurs or calling out your friends for making racist jokes. And just how unhelpful it is to say ‘but I’m not racist’ and distance yourself from the problem. Much more than just that, over the past year I have found so much more out about classism, sizeism, ableism, ageism, transphobia (to name a few) – and I know I’m only in my first steps and it will take more than my lifetime to do the work and make the changes that are needed, but I feel like the journey to being more educated began in earnest over the past year. I know I will make mistakes along the way too, but I think it’s important to allow yourself to be called out, to change your mind on a topic or to just be able to apologise for getting something wrong. That’s something I hope to get better at over the next year and beyond.

As for the smaller things, twenty six was the year I stopped punishing myself quite so hard and feeling guilty for every unproductive moment, every item of ‘junk food’ consumed, every time I just didn’t feel like doing anything. But it was also the year I also started to be more productive just because I was finally putting less pressure on myself.

I found more value in the things that I would class as a chore – in long dog walks, changing a bed, hoovering, planting seeds, cleaning the bath, playing the piano, watering the plants. This was the year I realised there can be simple joy in all those things, in aching legs and the smell of clean sheets and watching things grow. That all those things have value, and don’t equal a wasted or uneventful day, even if they don’t make for exciting conversation. They give you time to think about nothing in particular, which in turn often sprouts new ideas – to quote the ever-wise Pooh Bear (who has been a constant source of comfort this year, as always): ‘doing nothing often leads to the very best something‘.

Although conversation with friends and family has started to slow now, with an absence of anything much to talk about, I have hope that twenty seven will bring back making plans, hugging friends and family, trips to the seaside, meals out – just places to go, things to do and people to see. Even if just to give us more things to talk about and be excited by. Whilst I don’t foresee any big life-changing holidays abroad before I turn twenty eight, I do hope that towards the end of the year we might make it to a lovely beach somewhere in the UK, maybe a little cottage to hole up in and some salty sea air for a few weeks.

But even if life doesn’t gift me the above whilst I’m twenty seven, I do hope to just keep on keeping on. To keep stumbling through in the knowledge that better times lie ahead, and sometime, hopefully in the not-to-distant future, we will look back on this time with a ‘remember when…?’ and a ‘wasn’t that an odd time’, and even perhaps be a little grateful for the odd moment in the time spent in this constant state of limbo.

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