Thoughts On 21

Thoughts On 21

So, 21. That feels weird.

In case you somehow missed this fact from (a) previous posts and (b) other social media, today is my birthday. My twenty-first, in fact. It feels like it should be more significant than it is, but as a Brit, there’s nothing you can do at 21 that you couldn’t do at 18, since it’s not like we’re American and it’s the drinking age or anything. Not that I drink, so that wouldn’t be all that relevant anyway.

I think I’ve always thought of it as the gateway into adulthood because my sister graduated on her 21st and my brother shortly after his so it always seemed like a border line between life as a uni student and life as a Proper Adult, but absolutely nothing’s going to change for me because I’m still halfway through uni and a thousand miles from a job or independence, so it doesn’t really make that much of a difference.

Actually, as birthdays go, it was a pretty good one — I had a gathering yesterday evening to which about twelve people came, which was a considerable improvement on last year’s one. My parents and sister came to see me today, and my friend Natalie had come to stay for the weekend, so I had plenty of socialising. Enough socialising to render me so exhausted I started crying at nothing this evening because I was just so tired.

Presents and cards were mostly cat themed, which wasn’t unexpected: there was also a strong hedgehog theme among some of the cards, appropriate given my pinned tweet. I now have several more books to add to my TBR, including The Master & Margarita from my friend James, Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood from my aunt and uncle, and the Hamiltome from my other uncle. Plus a nice edition of Lords and Ladies from my friend Eleanor, as it’s one of my favourite Pratchetts. I don’t think I’ve missed anything out there.

Even Nellie paid me a birthday visit, got herself tangled in my blinds, and then threw up — thankfully, I knew the warning signs this time and managed to nudge her so that she could aim out of the window, unlike the last time she puked, all over my windowsill. (Better the sill than the carpet, though.) I’m not getting the impression she’s a very clever cat.

This would not be a difficult position from which to extricate herself, but she’s a numpty.

So I’ve nothing to complain about on that front, even if my introvert brain is totally overwhelmed right now and wants to sleep for about a week, which is making me a little maudlin at the moment. I think I’m just overwhelmed by the reminder, once again, that I’m growing older without achieving any of the things I’d hoped to achieve by this age. It’s one of those days where I feel frustrated and annoyed by my health problems, because of everything they’ve got in the way of me doing.

I know, I know. Broken record. Move on. Adapt. Become one of those inspirational people who overcomes disability and chronic pain to achieve remarkable things instead of the kind who just stays in bed and watches Netflix. Etc, etc. I’m trying.

That said, there’s a lot of good stuff on Netflix at the moment. They finally added series three of The Musketeers, so I can catch up on the episodes I missed (they went off iPlayer too quickly at the time). I’m currently enjoying One Day At A Time, which is about a Cuban-American family; Elena, the daughter, is extremely relatable (being an angry queer feminist tends to have that result). I also intend at some point to watch A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I’ve been meaning to continue watching the recent adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently (I started the first episode but got distracted). So on that front, I think I’m sorted.

And don’t even get me started on books. I’m super behind with ARCs, I’ve been recommended a ton of books I need to check out at the library, and as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been given some. With that and uni reading, I don’t think I’ll need to browse the Kindle Store any time soon, though I undoubtedly will, because I do that kind of thing.

So, I have friends, and things to do, and my parents brought my harp up with them today, even though it’s currently missing its middle A string and until I get a new one I’m extremely limited on what I can actually play. If I can keep the pain at bay (and it’s been rough after doing so much work for my French coursework), I’ll be just fine, even if I don’t feel up to actually achieving anything.

I’m just kind of glad time travel doesn’t exist so that nobody can tell my younger self that I’d be 21 without even having seriously queried a novel. Plus I missed the entry date for another poetry competition because I didn’t realise it was postal submissions only.

Also, I’m guessing I’m officially too old to be a YA protagonist anymore, so my chances of meeting any fairies are looking kinda slim. I mean, the kind of fairies I write about, you probably don’t want to meet, but it’s the principle of the thing, you know? For the last couple of years I’ve been finding it increasingly hard to take fifteen-year-old characters seriously and I feel like it’s only going to get worse from here. But I love YA fiction. I don’t want to outgrow this genre. Adult fiction is a vast and scary world full of stuff that’s either literary, full of sex, or both, and it can be hard to find the things that don’t fall into any of those categories.

I guess what I’m saying is: being 21 is weird. It shouldn’t be, because it’s not like there’s a major difference between yesterday and today, either physically or legally, but it is. It feels weirdly like proper adulthood (18-21 is fake adulthood, and although I now know a lot of people who have done gap years or longer courses and stuff, when I was younger my mental impression was very much that those were the uni years and 21 meant you must be coming up to graduation — which I’m not). I’m not ready for proper adulthood. I haven’t achieved enough, nor am I ready to achieve anything else. I just want to go to bed.

I chose the most appropriate t-shirt I owned for my gathering yesterday.

Wise, elderly blog readers, please advise. Younglings, hold onto your youth (and/or read the comments for tips on not feeling this weird when it’s you).

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Note: if you wanted to give me a birthday present, my poetry’s still on offer, and it would delight me if you could check it out. :)

4 thoughts on “Thoughts On 21

  1. Belated happy birthday. Well done to get this far. Advice – carry on. Learn from Nellie. I.e. Do not care what anyone else thinks. Be a cat and rule the world. Also, be the protagonist and find faeries. They are everywhere. Eat porridge, nuts and fruit, red meat if you like to, then greens, then water. Have a spoonful of cider vinegar with a glass of water in the morning. If not porridge, then lentils and/or chilli omelettes for breakfast. Hey – if you ask for advice from old farts, that’s what you’ll get. May the force be with you.

    1. Ha, I’d like to be as free and uncaring as Nellie, but I’d like to have a wee bit more sense in my head too ;) And fruit and nuts are a no-go for me due to allergies (I could never be vegan), but I’ll bear the advice in mind. Thanks.

  2. Life isn’t a sprint, so there isn’t an “enough” to have achieved by a particular age.

    Do things that make you happy when you can. Don’t do things you hate without a good reason.

    And, given the biggest reason I don’t read more YA fantasy/sci-fi is that there’s only so much ‘ignoring metaphysical danger to obsess over hotties’ I can take before I want to bang heads together, you might find adult speculative fiction more accessible.

    1. I make a point of avoiding any YA books that use the term “hot new guy” in the blurb or first chapter, unless the context is queer. Way too ace to care about any of that, haha.

      And yeah, I read a fair bit of adult SF, although I find the more classic stuff somewhat hardgoing and obviously I do still find it easier to relate to younger characters, even if they occasionally make me roll my eyes so hard they get stuck.

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