When I was a teenager I didn’t really have any expectations for the future. I had a big list of places I wanted to go and I knew what my interests were and I really, really wanted to meet some like-minded people. But there was no ideal, dream reality that my adult self would occupy. I just desperately yearned for certain situations.
I wanted a group of girlfriends who would meet me for lunch in nice bars, like on TV, except I wanted girlfriends who were interested in pop culture and vintage clothes and markets rather than hair and make-up and high fashion. I wanted people I could share music tastes with, and cook curries for, and my God, I wanted somebody to talk about Sailor Moon with. I wanted a best friend I could stay up all night with and have a million stupid jokes and call up any weekday evening and hang out with. And I wanted somebody who would come round and cuddle me just because, and kiss me at gigs, and tell me I was special.
I wanted to live in London, and go for coffee in cute indie cafes, and meet my friends in pubs where the bar staff knew my orders already. I wanted to try new restaurants in the evening and go shopping on the weekends. I wanted to have a kick-ass collection of fairy queen crowns, vintage sequins and old books. I wanted to take my songs more seriously. I wanted to write and paint more. I wanted to be free of the shackles of school and schedule my own weeks with things I loved and people I adored and pastimes that fulfilled me. I wanted to be trusted, and witty, and hold my own in conservations with my imaginary future friends.
So far, so teenage. If those ideals sound embarrassing, pathetic and wholly misinformed by pop culture and films then it’s because they are. I was lonely, misunderstood and bored, and these vague fleeting visions were primarily inspired by TV, manga, anime and films. I didn’t have very much real world experience. I didn’t really have any concrete ideas, or a game plan, or a dream set of goals and ambitions. There was no dream job, no perfect man, no ultimate fantasy house I wanted. I just saw my future self fleetingly in brief moments, picturing myself running around a museum in sequins, or chatting in a cafe to a guy with a sketchbook. Vague, aesthetically driven scenarios. I couldn’t really see a whole picture and I didn’t ever try to. I just had these moments of wishing I would be that person in the future.
I realised the other day that I now take all of those things for granted. All of those fleeting ideas I so wished for and dreamt of have become my everyday life. I’m becoming the person I always wanted to be, but I am also already there. I wake up in the arms of somebody beautiful, thrilling and smart who makes me feel happy. I get home from work and I chat my day over with my cherished housemates; talking through the ups and downs of the day. I stagger home from our local down the road arm in arm with my pals, and I get into our room and I look out the window at the whole of London, feeling part of this vibrant, sprawling city.
I no longer feel like a teenager – but I don’t mind. It’s better here. I make things and build things and with age comes gravitas and reputation. I’m less likely to fuck it up because I’ve done it 10 times already – and even if I do, people don’t mind as much because they know sometimes I get it right. I see my students now and I remember the feeling of there being this huge world out there and wondering how to get into the thick of it, how to find your place in the busiest city, how to carve a path in the toughest industry. It sounds corny, but when I stop and look around I realise in trying to get there, I’m already there.