Friday 15 October 2021

Me at 22

I don’t know about but I’m feeling 22! 

Okay, I’m sorry (I’m not at all), but that had to be done. It’s a rite of passage no for anyone who turns 22 post-Taylor Swift’s Red-era. So yes, on Sunday I turned 22 and it means that it’s time for my annual reflection on my life, how I’ve changed, and where I’m going. Does anyone else do this? Is it a bit of an odd tradition? I find it kind of comforting to have a documentation of who I am at each year of my life. Before writing this, I read back over my Me at 21 post and it made me laugh several times. In that post I wrote that ‘21 is going to be the year of self-care and learning boundaries’ – and to be honest, I think that it was. 


I won’t lie lockdowns were difficult, and I think I only realised how difficult once we came out of them and I began to see friends again. It really hit home to me how, although they have been a lifeline, Zoom calls are nowhere near a replacement for seeing friends and family in person. Even with many lockdowns, I’ve learned to love my body and to feel sexy again after my herpes diagnosis (something I’ve referred to quite cryptically in blog posts beforehand). It took a lot of time, disclosing my status to my first partner post-diagnosis, putting back on the weight I’d lost when I was first really ill with it, talking about my experiences extensively with friends, and finally writing about it publicly in my first ever paid writing job. It’s something I’m now proud to be talking about openly and won’t ever try to hide again. It’s still scary to think of having to disclose to future partners but I know now that it will be okay. I’ve grown massively in accepting that in the past year and you can guarantee you’ll be seeing me talk a lot more about it in the future.


I’ve also set myself more boundaries with work and making sure I don’t take on too much than I can handle. I’ve not applied for jobs I would have loved because I knew it would burn me out, I’ve turned down more serious volunteer roles in organisations I love because I don’t have the capacity to do anymore work for free. And I’m so proud of myself for actually saying no, because time was I would have applied for and said yes to every opportunity that came my way. I now know my limits a better and can feel when I’m reaching them. Did somebody say self-care??


As has been the case in most of my recent birthdays, I’m now in a new house! Still in my beloved Newcastle, this place has so much more space, an incredible bookshelf that is built into my wall, and it’s been so amazing to be able to share my space with friends of mine and my flatmates. It’s the first time I’ve lived in a house with two storeys for probably about 6 or 7 years, and for some reason it makes me feel a bit more grown-up? Not sure the logic there, it may be because I have a laundry room and a spare room now. I know right, wild! I have many more plants now and feel more confident caring for them – I managed to bring the plant I called Billy last year back from the dead. I now have several of these plants in two lines on my window sill behind my desk, meaning when I’m working I have lots of sunlight on me, plants in front of me, and candles and books to the side of me. Living my best life. 

In the last few months of 21 in particular, I have felt my work as a writer really take off. I have had 2 paid articles out so far, including one from Shado Mag whom I absolutely adore, and have recently accepted a new role (drum roll please) as a contributing writer for Remake, meaning I have my first steady paid writing job. I cannot believe that I get to be paid for what I love doing and am now what I wanted to be as a kid. My younger self would be in awe of me and honestly I cannot think of anything better. Remake has really given me confidence in what I’m doing, both in my activism and my writing this past year. In my last birthday post I wrote about pinching myself being in Zoom calls with those people. Now, over a year after first becoming an ambassador, I have been a guest on one of their community calls, an Ambassador of the Month, a contributing writer, had conversations with incredible people at its core, and made some amazing friends. I could not love Remake and its community more. It fills me with so much joy, hope, and motivation that I’ve been able to carry through into other areas of my life. 


Not only has my writing grown, but I have also been getting more involved with other climate activist groups, mostly Green New Deal Rising, doing smaller in-person protests. I’m going to write a whole blog post on why I love GNDR but doing in-person actions which have gained some traction (including Caroline Lucas mentioning an action against Rishi Sunak which I co-ordinated in Parliament) has given me so much motivation. It’s given me more confidence and I really feel like I’m now part of the movements making impactful change. I also organised my first protest the other week outside the opening of a new H&M store in Newcastle. It was so fun, and may have been a smaller action but I’m proud that I actually organised something like that! 

This time last year I had no idea what my life would look like now, but now I roughly know what my life will look like at 23. I started my Masters in the past few weeks – I know, it took me a while to mention – and I’m enjoying it so far even if I’m still figuring out my schedule with it. Last year I was determined I wasn’t going to do a Masters because I thought it would be a panic one, but instead I just found an area I wanted to study more during one of the last modules of my undergrad and have rolled with that. It’s part-time, meaning I have some more time for other projects, including my writing, new part-time job, and voluntary work, and I have my life semi-planned for the next 2 years (it may also mean I will finally get an actual proper graduation!). So far, I’m reading interesting books, writing whenever I can, and trying to make sure I find the joy wherever I can. 


At the same time as doing more serious things and working more, I’m trying to make sure I have regular and purposeful joy in my life. I’m actively going to the beach and swimming in the sea more, wearing fun underwear for myself, making an effort to see friends in person more now that we are finally able to, and there is always more room in life for another dance party. I’m also dying my hair a new colour next week, so I will have bundles of joy in that! 


The past few years have been a bit tumultuous for me personally (whose early 20s aren’t to be honest?) but I feel like I’m settling in to what I want to do, who I am, and what I value. Even if I may be a bit rocky sometimes (and let’s be real I don’t ever see a world where I’m not an anxious little shit) I feel like I know my own worth than I did a year ago, definitely more than I did two years ago. And yes, imagine I was doing finger guns at the end of that sentence. Still as cool as ever. 

Oh yeah - and I did that fringe. Nearly forgot about it. I mentioned in my 'Me at 21' post that I was sure I would have one before the end of the year, and I was right. I cut myself a fringe on a random afternoon in lockdown November when I was bored of writing my dissertation proposal. It takes a lot of work to maintain but I love it, even if it does mean I have to wash my hair a bit more often. Feels like I've had it forever - it's a keeper!


But anyways - this is me, at 22!

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If you liked this post you might like: Me at 22

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