25

On Friday the fourth of May I turned twenty five. Some people regard it as a bit of a landmark birthday and some don’t. I was a little worried as it’s almost regarded as the social norm to have your shit together by 25, the house and car, career paved out and a long term relationship with all the trimmings.

But life doesn’t really work like that. There is no cast iron plan, no set route for everyone to go down. Some people have the world as their oyster at 25. Some have a cat a reasonably paid job and still live with their mother. In fact I’m starting to think most are the latter now that the economy is not overly 90s baby friendly (85-99 to be specific… I suppose…) and is making it oh so bloody difficult to get a decent phone contract let alone a mortgage.

I’d like to think I’m in the ~semi shit together~ phase and I’ll probably stay there until I’m 30 if I’m honest. I moved back home to save for a mortgage and help my mum out a little. After about two months I met my now boyfriend and after 4 he moved in. Pretty fast I know but the circumstances surrounding us at the time pulled it all together. Along with him came his dog, a chest of drawers and a new bed. Shifting around the bedroom, fitting everything in, changing MY car into OUR car and MY home into OUR home. It somehow seemed to fit and fast forward 8 months and like an old couple watching telly in bed at night with the dog by my side and a cup of tea!

As expected I spent my birthday with my boyfriend and family. I went to lakeside shopping centre, which if you haven’t been, is huge and has a cinema and 4 storey Primark for starters. It’s situated in Thurrock, Essex and from where I live on the south coast it’s journey to it consists of going through the Dartford Crossing (a tunnel going under the Thames river) and on the ghastly M25 but it makes up for it when you can spend an entire day there and have lunch on the lake in the sunshine.

I also had a meal with my family and my boyfriends family which was lovely and thankfully I had wonderful weather for the entire weekend of my birthday. As English people do when it’s sunny we had a family BBQ and got out the paddling pool for the little ones.

I suppose most of this post is really me just verifying to myself that it doesn’t matter that I haven’t got the money for a mortgage yet, that we aren’t engaged to be wed or pregnant. Everyone has there own time for things in life and mine is perhaps slower than some but equally as important and maybe even faster than others. It’s entirely personalised to each individual. As you get older I think your birthday is less about celebrations and more about the next upcoming year of your life. What you might achieve, memories and experiences. Having a good knees up helps to go through those though!

I guess what I’m saying is just do you. The only person that matters in your past, present and future is yourself. Without you there is none of those nice things or experiences. Your twenties are about finding yourself and learning the world. Learning what suits you, what doesn’t, compromising and how to walk away from things that don’t benefit you. It doesn’t matter if your shit isn’t quite together. Nobody should judge you so don’t judge yourself.

My first 25 was eventful. I’m sure the next will be even more so.

CA x

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A very honest letter to my younger self.

Hello sweet,

So you’re a teenager and you’re full of hormones. You don’t know much about me, but I know you so well. You’re very different to me but also very much the same. Most people would think you were an extrovert as you’re always in the conversation, never giving a damn, always pulling a prank or being a clown. But that will change, you’ll go through secondary school with the belief that in order to be someone you need to be popular and conform. You’ll be bullied by a girl so incredibly insecure about herself that she’ll make you hate your appearance, but you will get over it when you leave school. When you leave school you’ll realise that everyone ends up the same way in the end and that popularity doesn’t equal friendship, and so will she, so don’t hate her for what she’s done, she’s learning too.

Boys are like yo-yos to you for a bit. They bring you up and they drop you down. Yeah our first relationship is completely fake, I’m really sorry for the pain you’ll go through. Your whole relationship was a lie and I wish you knew so you could have saved your virginity for someone who cares about you more. Mainly because of this you brush the good ones away for a bit and you lose someone really great. Luckily for you he’s a top man and he stays your friend for the foreseeable future, he helps you through some seriously dark times and he truly is your counterpart, just not romantically.

I hate to break it to you but you really cocked up college. You did two years of AS because you messed around in the first year and then you gave up and went into the world of work. It’s a good job you love to work. You work more and more and move from jobs roughly each year and a half until you find something new that excites you and can’t wait to get stuck in.

Don’t believe what people say. You’re very naive to things and you subject yourself to other people’s opinions so often that they start to forge your opinions too. You will lose a lot of friends when you find yourself and you’ll be distraught that people don’t stick around and spend time with you on birthdays but you will realise that unfortunately that’s becoming an adult and you will meet people that will stick by you. I promise.

There’s some big events that happen too. You find out you have another half brother and half sister. You spend some time with them a couple of times a year for a few years, but now you’ve grown and you don’t stand for 80/20 relationships, it needs to be equal effort. So for now you’ll wait to see if they come to you.

You’ll meet your dad. The man you thought abandoned you and never wanted you. Well, he does want you. He’s just a scared man that thinks you will reject him. But you don’t, because growing up with just your mum you’ve learnt to appreciate family and embrace anyone that wants to be part of that. Along with your dad you’ll meet his side of the family, auntie, cousins, nan, step mum and step sisters and it will completely overwhelm you. Don’t worry there is no rush. Just enjoy the small things.

You find love. The kind of love you have dreamed of, and you move back home after leaving at 17. You’re saving for a mortgage and you’ve got a wonderful man and extended family. Shit gets really bad for them but you stay close and you give all you can because that’s what families do. Who knows if you will be with him forever but it’s been almost a year here now and that will astound you. Again, enjoy the small things.

Your anxiety and depression will go up and down and you’ll realise that it’s not something you will remove. It’s part of you and that’s not always a bad thing. It builds your character. Sometimes it will kick you and knock you down but you will always stand up straighter and stronger with the love you have around you. You get rid of your terror nightmares. Yes, really. You only have nightmares when you’re stressed. You’re learning to love yourself properly. Fully. Every part.

This letter isn’t to scare you about the bad things. You do so well, you drive and you know who you are. You have wonderful friends and family and despite the death, trauma and permanent damage from things you will always fight.

Because you are a fighter.

And there is always happiness.

Remember what Dumbledore says in Harry Potter, you will love by it.

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Take care. Love yourself. You’re doing so well. CA x

Valentine’s/ Stephen’s Birthday getaway

Stephen and I made a quick getaway for Valentine’s weekend and his birthday to Prague this year. If you haven’t been to Prague then you definitely should. It’s such a city of culture and there’s a millions and one things to see and do, and if you’re a foodie like me then you’ll love it because they’re food mad!

Stephen’s birthday is 11th February so we went from 8th – 12th to cater for both occasions.

We travelled via easyJet and the flights cost £150 for both of us. Accommodation was from AirBnB in the centre of Old Town, Prague and cost £172 for 4 nights stay, we had a studio flat overlooking the main town so we were right in the middle of everything and close to tram, metro and bus links to go to whatever part of the city we wished.

We visited Hard Rock Cafe Praha on Stephen’s birthday and ate a colossal amount of food for a little price. Remember that 28kc (Czech koruna) equates to £1 gbp, you get a lot of money when converted even with commission and charges etc.

We visited several monuments and Prague’s version of Madame Tussaud’s which is, to say the least, freaky.

Is there anywhere in Europe you would recommend or have been to and found it to be a good place to holiday? Let me know in the comments.

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CA x