27, and in no rush

Six months ago, I tried writing a blog post about turning 27. The first search result read: '9 Depressingly Real Reasons Why 27 Will be Your Crisis Year'.

Seriously, give it a Google.

Reading that title while on the brink of 27 made me slightly concerned. Was I really about to be in for a year of existential crisis? 

Before resigning myself to a year of misery, I decided I should probably give 27 a chance.

After all, 27 is the start of your late twenties. So by that logic, I decided I should aim to achieve three things as an employed, fairly happy, very privileged, woman in her late twenties:

  1. I wanted to have a go-to outfit for every occasion. Repeats are fine, but if somebody calls me at 7PM and asks to go out for dinner, my goal was to know exactly what I would throw on with a moment's notice.

  2. I wanted to have wine in the house that I didn't just buy in for an evening or occassion. You know when you go to a friend's home and they can offer a selection of white or red because they clearly didn't pick up a random bottle from Tesco on the way home from work? This to me, is the epitome of having your shit together.

  3. I wanted to celebrate my friends' big life achievements without having my own mini-breakdown. New job? Engagement? Bought your first home? Let's recognize this as the really amazing thing it is, without thinking about how it makes me a failure. (Because it really is nothing to do with me.)
Seven months into 27, I can confidently say that number three happens to be the only one of these goals that I have achieved.

I still panic about what to wear when I get a last-minute invitation, and I spent at least ten minutes this evening debating whether to pop to the shop for a bottle of wine, as we had none in.

But measuring my own life's success through comparison to my friends?  That is something I'm no longer interested in, thank you very much.

* * *

Until recently, I hadn't really given much thought to what I 'should' be doing. I never questioned whether I was in the right place, or choosing the right path.

I'd decided at 21 that London, the house sharing, and the corporate job just weren't for me (at least, not at that moment). 

And as I watched my friends receive their first paychecks and promotions, I knew my happiness wasn't going to be found in the same way - I had to recognize that my own success was going to take a different form. 

Friends opened savings accounts while I struggled to pay off my student overdraft. Some reached a higher tax bracket while I was freelance writing for 'exposure'. If I'd lived by a traditional tick-list, it's fair to say I would've spiraled a long, long time ago.

So instead, I focused on living in different countries, and the freedom of not having a 'real' home. I buzzed off receiving my first real paycheque for writing, and I bathed in the knowledge that I was making friends with people I would never have met had I followed my original trajectory of a 9-5 London job. 

What I've realised, is that it's actually quite easy to focus on your own path and create your own measurements for success when the life you're living is incomparable to the rest of your friends.

It's much harder to feel like this when you're living almost exactly the same life as them, just in a different font. 

"Copy my homework but don't make it obvious," if you will.

And that's exactly what I found when I moved to London 18 months ago.

I moved on a whim post-breakup, only to learn pretty quickly that I wasn't 21 and surrounded by fresh graduates, I was 26 and surrounded by couples.

I worked in a job that was 100% remote, while my friends posted photos of industry award shows and work trips abroad.

I moved into a houseshare which, thankfully, worked out amazingly... but also came with the bonus of black mould creeping up the walls and a kitchen the size of Harry Potter's cupboard.

For the first time in my life, I found myself thinking, 'Fuck, maybe it's time to find out what a LISA actually is.'

Don't get me wrong, the last 18 months have truly been some of the best of my life. My happiness at times has been insufferable. 

But I realized I was finally leading a life that people are much more familiar with. Combine this with going into my late twenties, and the expectations and questions around my personal life seemed to double down.  

'Dating anyone?'
'How's work going?'
'Are you still spending half of your salary renting in London?'

Resisting the urge to compare yourself becomes much, much harder when you're asked the same set of questions at every family gathering. 

So, that's what I've been working on; not feeling behind. 

For me, not feeling left behind means recognising how lucky I am that I have wine friends and baby friends. It's understanding that every friend who's bought a house is not, in fact, laughing at me stuck in the rental market, and it's realising how really, really bloody lovely it is when your favourite people fall into relationships and are incredibly happy. 

* * *

Every year, my five best friends from university and I go for a Christmas meal, where we round out the evening by describing our 'peaks and pits' of the year.

It's exactly as you'd imagine. We all take it in turn to describe our number one high, and our number one low.

Our 2022 highs included:
  • Getting engaged
  • Seeing Harry Styles live
  • Buying a house
  • A 27th birthday party
Clearly, every one of us had an incredibly different year with varied highs, and yet we all felt that we'd had an amazing year.

Life looks so different for everyone.   

Because by whose standards do we define 'behind' in life? Certainly not mine. 

No matter what you're doing, or what age you are, there's something so exciting about having huge life moments ahead to look forward to. And I'd always rather they come at the right time, than because I rushed into them.