Project H: Turning 24, dealing with stress (unrelated), & The To-Do List and Other Debacles

What kind of self-proclaimed book-nerd (it’s in the blog’s subtitle for flip’s sake) can’t remember which book she has just read, literally a matter of days ago?

INTERVIEWER: So tell me, what was the last book you read?
MY BRAIN: Nope, sorry, can’t help you there. I’ve got nothing.
ME: Erm…er…um…my mind has gone completely blank! *nervous laugh*
MY BRAIN: Abort, abort.

Nailed it.

In a parallel, less mortifying universe, I would have enthusiastically and eloquently discussed how I’d just finished Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt, explaining how insightful it was and how it taught me so much more about working in the NHS than five years of watching medical documentaries ever could have. But of course, my brain wouldn’t make it that easy for me, and all I could do was laugh mildly hysterically in utter shock at what was happening. I had prepared for all the hardest questions: Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your weaknesses? Tell me about a challenge you have overcome. Yet I was totally flawed by surely the easiest question asked in any interview ever.

Now that I’m 24 (!!!?), maybe I should be able to deal with this kind of stressful situation without descending into self-loathing and existential despair (dramatic, much?), but in reality, these awkward moments play on my mind and really effect how I feel about myself. The book that I am currently reading (at least I can remember this one) has made me realise that other people also get stressed out about things, often way smaller and seemingly insignificant than a mind-blank in a job interview.

Have you ever made plans for a ‘perfect’, Instagram-worthy weekend, which have proceeded to fail miserably and leave you feeling like you’re the only one not brunching with the girls, buying quinoa from the market and sipping cans of pink G&T on Hampstead Heath? Instead, you’re sprawled on the sofa in your pjs with your cat and a family-sized bar of Dairy Milk. If you can even vaguely relate to this, as I certainly can, then this book by Amy Jones will bring you great comfort and reassurance. The book, appealingly called The To-Do List and Other Debacles, is the latest ‘millennial memoir’ that I have found myself shamelessly fan-girling. I know I say this about every book I love, but I honestly feel like Jones has somehow got into my own head and turned my deepest darkest thoughts into something eloquent, poignant and brutally honest. I could only dream of putting into words what it feels like to have mental health struggles, but she manages to do so in a way that is incredibly relatable, whether you’ve been ‘officially diagnosed’ or you simply sometimes find yourself descending into an internal pit of mild self-loathing (see above). Or, maybe you just love a to do list and get a disproportionately large sense of achievement from ticking the little box beside ‘Have a shower’. I haven’t finished the book yet (obvs it’s on the to-do list for this weekend), so don’t be surprised if it makes another appearance in a blog post once I have…

Back to the frankly alarming fact that I am now 24 years old. How on earth did that happen? As a child/teenager, I had my whole life planned out: a plan which involved being married at 23 and having kids at 26. I’m unsure where I got these numbers from, but at the time they must have seemed suitably distant and grown up. Having now passed the first milestone with not even a Hinge date in sight, I admit that these life goals may have been a tad optimistic. Obviously alongside the wedding and the kids, I would also have been a high-flyer career-wise, probably earning enough to have that flat with a balcony I’ve always dreamt about. At the same time as this, I would be writing my second novel (my debut having been published at 25), practising yoga at 6am every morning, taking the dog (there is also a cat) on brisk jogs around the park twice daily, grabbing coffee with the girls, swimming in Hampstead Ponds, spending my days writing at the kitchen table, whilst also working in the type of open-plan office in which everyone wears heels. Oh, and living in Paris. What I’m trying to say, is that I can’t have everything. Maybe I’ll do all of the above at some point in my life, but I probably won’t do them all at the same time, and certainly not by the time I’m 25, 27, 30 etc. What’s the point in putting an age on it? It will only make me feel dissatisfied and ungrateful for life in the moment. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to live in the moment and enjoy all the little things that make up everyday life. Like my morning cup of coffee, the roses on our kitchen table (see pic), or the little buzz I get when I tick something off the to-do list.


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