Everything I’ve Learnt About Life Whilst Reading ‘Everything I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton

 

If I ever write a book, I want to write a book like this.

Definitely a bold statement, as Everything I Know About Love is brilliantly well written, witty, outrageous and wonderfully perceptive. It is a riotous and self-aware journey into Dolly Alderton’s life. In spite of all of the mess, the heavy drinking and the unsuccessful Tinder dates, I can’t help but want to be this twenty-something year old, living in London with her girlfriends, writing (and drinking) her way through life. At the very least, this book makes me feel slightly less bad about all my mess. Mess is normal. Mess is just another word for ‘experience’.

“You don’t have a sense of self,” Dolly’s therapist told her. This surprised me, as I felt sure that this life-and-soul-of-the-party girl with a hilarious story for every occasion had just that. But turns out she’s a bit like me (or I’m a bit like her??) and she doesn’t know who the flip she is. Or at least, she didn’t at some point during her 20s. Phew. There is hope yet.

My friend recommended this book to me whilst we were walking in the countryside, wearing inappropriate white trainers and chatting about life. She couldn’t stop talking about it, and now I totally understand why. I went home and ordered it off Amazon (it is not, however, shit – you’ll get that if you’ve read the book) and felt a disproportionate sense of achievement when it arrived less that 24 hours later. (I live at home, I have to take the small victories.)

I’ve now finished the book, and feel utterly bereft. I just want to carry on reading it forever. I’m listening to The High Low as I write this, and I’ve just heard Dolly read out some terrible reviews of the book. I guess anyone who doesn’t like it just can’t relate. Lucky them(?) Maybe they just have their life together.

Things I’ve learnt about life whilst reading Everything I Know About Love:

  1. If you want to write, just write. Write a diary, write notes, write blog posts, write articles, write stories. This is a note to self.
  2. It’s okay to have regrets. Most people have done stuff they wish they hadn’t. It’s all part of living life.
  3. Friends are golden. I’ve done my fair share of self-isolation and pushing people away, but if I want someone to lie in bed and cry and drink £5 warm white wine with me, then I need my gal pals.
  4. I have to live in London at some point during my 20s. That was always the plan but now it’s becoming pretty urgent.
  5. All the best people have therapy on Fridays.
  6. I’m an idiot for never having listened to The High Low. It’s going to help me get over the fact that I’ve finished the book.
  7. My goal for this year is independence. Okay, I know I said that I’m not making any January goals, but that was before I had thought of any and now I have, so yeah.
  8. You can’t be happy in a relationship until you’re happy on your own. I probably already knew this, but now I feel less bad about this being relevant to my life.
  9. Drinking is fun, but as long as you’re drinking for the right reasons and not as a way of expressing yourself/feeling something/escaping.
  10. Contrary to popular opinion, I am actually a reasonably fast reader. I’ve just got to find the right book.

The best three quotes from Everything I Know About Love:

  1. “You are the sum total of everything that has happened to you up until that last slurp of that cup of tea you just put down.” – Everything that has happened to us and everything we do shapes who we are. We are continuously changing, collecting experience, and growing as individuals. This helps me come to terms with some of the less-than-ideal stuff that’s happened in my life this year.
  2. “Love was there in my empty bed.” – This is about finding love in your friendships, in your alone time, and in yourself, but not in a cringe or unrealistic way.
  3. “Because I am enough. My heart is enough. The stories and sentences twisting around my mind are enough. I am fizzing and frothing and buzzing and exploding. I’m bubbling over and burning up. My early-morning walks and my late-night baths are enough. My loud laugh at the pub is enough. My piercing whistle, my singing in the shower, my double-jointed toes are enough. I am a just-pulled pint with a good, frothy head on it. I am my own universe; a galaxy; a solar system. I am the warm-up act, the main event and the backing singers.” – This is about being comfortable in your own skin, in your own body, celebrating your eccentricities and making peace with your flaws.

If you’ve ever felt a bit lost and unsure of yourself, this book will help you realise that that’s normal. Turns out no one really knows what they’re doing.

 

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