Next month is my birthday and I’ll be turning 29. I read on Holly’s blog that her friend Alison called being 29 “running your victory lap”, and that seems pretty fitting: I’m winding down my twenties (which have been, for the most part, great) and looking forward to what’s coming up in the next decade.
Yesterday I was at work and went to make a cup of tea for my colleague and myself. As my hand hovered over the selection of teabags and I decided on a herbal one, I suddenly realised how surprised my fifteen year old self would have been at that choice: I was always adamant that herbal teas were vile and useless and a waste of time. So it got me thinking, how many other things would fifteen year old Helen be surprised that near-thirty Helen is doing?
So yes, that I would ever voluntarily drink herbal tea
I’m not a complete convert as there aren’t many herbal teas I drink and actually enjoy, but peppermint and lemon & ginger are very pleasant. Fifteen year old Helen would maintain that herbal teas tasted of grass and stick with coffee, thank you very much.
That I would like strong coffee
At fifteen I liked coffee, but only Nescafe and only when it was really, really weak, preferably made by my mom. Nowadays, unless my latte has two shots in it, don’t bother. And I never, ever buy ground coffee below strength level 5.
That Radio 1 would become annoying and I would start listening to Radio 2
But doesn’t it happen to us all? I think it’s an obligatory British rite of passage, the moving from Scott Mills, Fearne Cotton and the latest Rihanna song on endless repeat to Steve Wright, Chris Evans and MOR. (Thank goodness for 6Music as a viable third option).
That I’m not a lawyer
Ally McBeal and her sassy one liners have a lot to answer for. At fifteen I was convinced I was going to end up as a barrister, and even did work experience in a local solictor’s office. What happened? Well, a more general degree (on the advice of lawyers), a work placement at a theatre and concert hall in the second year, and then a realisation that working in the arts was really, really fun.
That I would enjoy gardening
The only purpose I used our garden for at age fifteen was sitting out in occasionally to do some revision. At near thirty, I weed, I dig, I plant, I water, I lavish attention upon my seedlings – and I love it.
That I don’t have a cat
This was a top priority for fifteen year old me. We both do want a cat, but life keeps conspiring, plus my allergies don’t help. Watch this space though…
That the girl at school who I thought was really cool would be one of my best friends
When Z and I were fifteen, we were both in the same English class but we didn’t really hang out. By the end of sixth form, we were firm friends heading to the same university. By the end of university, we’d lived together for two years and had shared some amazing experiences. Now she is a proud mama and one of my favourite people in the world.
That I would enjoy exercise
Gym and games were somewhat of a humiliation for me at school, on account of how I am rubbish at team sports such as hockey and netball. Being able to do things like trapeze and climbing means that I’m much fitter than my fifteen year old self. Plus I never, ever have to wear a pleated gym skirt, coloured aertex top and elasticated navy blue gym knickers EVER AGAIN. (And they wonder why girls don’t enjoy sport?)
That I would be with such a splendid, handsome, funny, lovely man who, for some inexplicable reason, loves me as much as I love him. And that we’d be married!
Fifteen year old Helen was terrible with boys and despite reading Mills and Boon, didn’t really believe she would ever have that type of relationship. She would be very, very surprised (and pleased!) to see how happy near-thirty Helen is.
So I guess the moral of the story is, never be surprised at the direction your life takes you in. If my life had panned out how I’d envisaged it, I’d be a spinster barrister with far too many cats at home, who drank instant coffee, secretly read romance novels, never exercised and lived in a flat because she couldn’t be bothered to look after a garden. The current reality is far, far better than I could ever have imagined (even if the cats are lacking), and I’m sure that fifteen year old me, if she could have seen into the future, would have liked what she saw.
What I’ll be doing in another fifteen or thirty years is little more than a few vague thoughts on the edge of my consciousness, not yet properly formed – will there be children? grandchildren? Will I still be working, and if so doing what, or gallivanting around the world? However it turns out though, I’m sure it will be good, and I am sure both my fifteen year old and thirty year old self will approve.
What would your former self be surprised at your current self doing?