On Getting Old

February 22, 2015
Me aged 15 messing around with paint. Eat your heart out, charliexbarker

Me aged 15 messing around with paint for self-portraits (selfies weren’t a thing when I was your age, kids). Eat your heart out, charliexbarker

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.

Inventing the selfie on Prom Night aged 15.

Inventing selfies aged 15 for prom night.

My first ever outfit shot aged 16.

My trademark “wacky” style aged 16 + “goofy” pose. Probably before a dire house party.

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.

Aged 17 with an outift that inspired the name of EL James’ bestseller.

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.

quartz brown 112

First job out of university aged 21.

battersea barge christmas singing showcase

Last Christmas with kidney infection (post somewhere on this blog).

Me about two minutes ago!!

About two minutes ago.

11 comments so far.

11 responses to “On Getting Old”

  1. Bel says:

    I was going to say when I was reading the first part, it certainly sounds like you’ve achieved your teenage dreams! This is such a lovely post, and I have to say, I’m so happy that I’m part of your life, which sounds like it’s going pretty damn well if I’m honest! Also that Last Christmas picture of you is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen xxx

  2. Kati says:

    You know, I had the same ideas of how life would be like if I grew up – so influenced by the media!


  3. Denise says:

    It’s so nice to read your posts and your thoughts and insights, and even more, about how you thought in the past. I think you must be doing all really well, cause you now live where you want, you enjoy your job and you travel to places you like and have fun! I think you look adorable in the past pictures, as you do now! I am sorry you had a kidney infection, I hope it’s Ok now! I think I would be screaming of pain – I really don’t know how it is, but I always heard about people in a lot of pain. I hope you never have another infection!

  4. I don’t think I realise how old I am until I talk to someone who is 14/15.

    Lizzie Dripping

  5. christina says:

    I loved your teenage dreams, life really should be like that! I think you have done so well to remain true to yourself and what you are about. Look what you have already achieved! I always admire your confidence in what you do and the way you travel around, whilst looking fabulous! you should be very proud of you! 😀

  6. Laura says:

    ah, such a lovely post. that’s pretty similar to what i wanted my life to be in the future as a teenager, and suppose what i still want to some degree, ha:-) how lovely that you’re pretty much living your dream life, minus the kidney infections and other bad things. i need to start sorting out my life a little more so that i can say the same in a year or two or few. also, that second last photo of you is stunning! x

  7. Lovely post. I think that ageing is a beautiful thing. And if you can feel the happiest about the current version of yourself, then you know you are doing things right. I can also understand though, how it is easy to get so wrapped up in things that you almost forget to look at the woman you have worked hard to become or appreciate the things that you now have that you only once dreamed of.

    Rae | love from berlin

  8. Priya says:

    Such a great post. How did you say that so well? I can identify with so many parts of this…but maybe the best lesson here is (and I know you’re already good at this) to enjoy every moment of life right now, since it’s what we’ve been waiting for for so long! I need to remind myself that more often. You have a great way with words.

    ♥ perfectly Priya

  9. […] this delve into my early years I’ve written a couple of other “growing up” posts here and […]

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