I Turned 22 Yesterday and I’m Already Talking About Anti-Aging (But Not In The Way You Might Think)

”It’s in this past year leading up to the big two-one where I feel like everybody around me is speeding through life. A girl who I went to school with and is just a day younger than me – is married. Like what? Girls I grew up with at Primary School have children and more and more people are moving out into their own places with people they love. And that’s crazy to me. Don’t get me wrong – I am so ready to be doing those things, especially with Connor, – but mentally I feel about five years too young, whilst everyone else around me feels like they’re five years ahead. I’m not saying you’ll see me in a white gown with a child in tow anytime soon, but I just don’t feel like I qualify for this new era of my life…”

If you couldn’t already guess from the title, yesterday was my 22nd birthday. Twenty-Two. Veintidós. Vingt-Deux. And whilst the photo for this blog post might make it seem like I’m welcoming this new age wholeheartedly, it’s still pretty hard to imagine myself now officially in my twenties (and not the 5ive-loving, the absolutely-no-dress-wearing child I used to be).

A self-confessed memory whore, I thrive off the happenings of the past. Celebration and heartaches, fun days out and long nights in – if you read my ramblings from this time last year then you’d know that birthdays? My lifeline when it comes to the events of the past keeping me wrapped up in a sheet of anti-aging bubble wrap.

I remember, when writing last year’s ‘Thoughts on Turning 21 and Growing Up’ blog post, seeing how I felt summed up perfectly by the ever-fabulous Chloe. She spoke about how we often hold those we love and care for in a frozen state of ageing; for her, it was her Grandparents and for me? Well, almost everyone I know.  Just the other day my family and I were talking about how my sister will be 21 next year (where has that time gone) despite her very much remaining 18 in my mind. Not to mention my mum relishing in the fact I’ve been convinced that she’s been turning 39 for the past 6 or 7 years.

As I come to the end of another jolly round the Sun and ready for another to begin, it’s this realisation that time is well and truly speeding past us that fuels my immense dread at the thought of getting older. Something that has we’ve had no choice in since the dawn of time, ageing has always been something that has terrified me; and it’s not something that you can really prepare for. Well, apart from eyeing up the perfect (and giant) chocolate birthday cake to get your teeth stuck into. When I think about that specific number getting higher and higher my palms get a little clammy (TMI I know), my heart starts racing and every invading thought, panic, fear comes creeping into my mind. 

But this year? As I sit here and try to avoid using that Taylor Swift lyric to replace every sentence/message/potential Instagram caption that I could’ve posted yesterday?

Well, I couldn’t be further from that. 

“I’m torn between wanting to keep my childhood alive, whilst hitting these milestones that society has ever so kindly engrained in us. All whilst a) not wanting to age and b) being absolutely petrified of dying (but that’s a whole other bunch of balloons that we won’t be dealing with today)”

It seems had fitting that I’m watching Doctor Who as I’m writing this, as the question of time travel (namely ‘If you could, would you travel to the past or the future?’) is something that has always boggled me. Without a doubt, my immediate answer would be “ERM HI TAKE ME BACK TO THE PAST PLS THANKS”. Between a lack of home videos leaving me to see how much of a little terror I was a child (a cute one of course); to Connor and I nervously looking into each other’s very inebriated eyes, trying to fathom a sentence about how we felt about each other before smooching the night away; to even my love affair with fashion and music eras gone by – elements of the past have always been more appealing to me.

On the other hand, what about the future? To get to see where I end up? What career stands before me? Whether I ever give up the dream of Harry Styles spontaneously falling in love with me? (Let’s be honest, never gonna happen). And that’s just the distance future; in the immediate future, Connor and I are looking at houses, I’m still chugging along on the job-hunting train and then there’s the even “harder” (ehem) decision of whether or not to have a massive bubble bath, tidy my room, or just sit and make my way through yet another episode of DW.

Unlike the Doctor, I – and every other human – don’t get the opportunity to say that “I have had many faces, many lives” and whilst I don’t wish to get all 2012 on you all, we do only get to live once (yes I did just drop a YOLO in a blog post). I always berate myself for spending so much time focussing on the past as my future flies past me in the blink of an eye; that I then find myself in an ever-growing panic that my inner panic about getting older and being so loved-up with the past, is actually just taking more and more time away from the future and then it’s all just one big ball of panic. 

And I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve realised about my change in mindset since my birthday yesterday. For once – and to be honest, for as long as I can remember – I’m not spending this time thinking of birthdays gone by, memories gone by or even crappy people gone by.

In short, and in a very short space of time, I feel like turning 22 has finally kicked my brain into gear – made me grow up a little. I’m consciously becoming more aware of how quickly time is passing by and whilst that does fill me with fear, it also fills me with excitement. Yes I might not be living the life I had expected to be living post-uni and yes, the thought of creeping ever-closer to my mid-twenties, then thirties etc does absolutely horrify me, but no matter what happens, I only get to do it once. 

I might look back on this in a couple of years time – Harry Styles less and rewatching Doctor Who for the umpteenth time – and think “god and she thought she had it bad then?” but I’m finally learning to accept and enjoy everything that comes with turning that one year older. I’m enjoying discovering new thoughts, feelings, fears and loves of mine as I get older; I’m loving accepting and falling in love with who I am; and I’m loving that one day I might look back on this time with the same fond memories as I do my past right now.

I guess I’m not so anti-aging after all.