Ready Parent One

At the start of the summer, my sister moved home from university for a few months, with her entire life boxed up and in tow. Among her belongings, I found this picture of our mother.
Aside from the fact that you can all see where I get my devastatingly good looks from, the interesting thing about this photograph is that she’s about a year younger than I am now. What’s more, she’s pregnant with me.
Yikes.
It’s one thing to see other people your age having babies. It’s another entirely to realise you entered your parents’ lives when they were both no more than the sprog you are now. Because your parents are, and always have been, your yard stick for adulthood. They’re the grown ups. Having evolved through the stages of oblivious child and self-involved adolescent (half true), of course it had dawned on me that my parents had no magic parenting wand or extensive training, that they did nothing but their best, but this has still brought that home for me.
It blows my mind on a semi-regular basis that we can make more humans without, like, a license or something. Of all the intensely serious things I could hypothetically be granted permission to do – perform open heart surgery, negotiate a hostage situation, programme a missile, cook Christmas dinner – having and raising children feels like it should have more caveats. Or, you know, some.
But no. We are all here by the grace of someone who didn’t know what they were doing; who very likely felt overwhelmed and underqualified. (Cue me segueing into how my revelation can make you feel better about yourself)
Like you, dear reader, in everything that you do. (Ta-da!) You owe your very existence to people who were winging the most important job anyone will ever do, because that’s the only way to do it. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it’s the only way to do anything. Getting older is not what I thought it would be, with the wisdom and the confidence and the moment a neon sign comes on above my head reading I GOT THIS. But I have got it, for the most part. And when I haven’t I’ll just laugh and remind myself that my mother went and had a baby, and then two more, and if she managed that I can handle anything.
I think they call it ‘imposter syndrome’; the feeling that you are not qualified or deserving or competent, and it plagues us whether we actually are or not. Take me doing my first aid training last month. Did I listen and ask thoughtful questions and get a certificate at the end? Yes. I rocked it. I was Hermione Granger in that class. Will I be doing anything other than winging it if I ever have to put it into practise? Ahahahaha no. It doesn’t matter if the universe and the training board has decried me ready and able. I have not morphed into First Aid Hannah, or earned enough experience points to make me immune to first aid failure. I am Regular Hannah, still knowing things and doubting things, and being pulled along by my instincts and emotions far more than my brain.
You don’t level up, is what I’m trying to say. Not on your birthday, not at your graduation, not when you hold your infant daughter for the first time. But perhaps the biggest obstacle to hitting the milestones is just realising that you – Regular You – can. That feeling at sea – feeling so out of your depth that it’s funny – is the human condition.
So try and aim a little higher than you think you can hit. Fake it till you make it, as they say. That’s how you earn one of those neon sing thingies.
Oh, and thanks mum x
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The year in review

Anyone who has ever rung in the New Year with me is probably aware of the uniquely poignant and philosophical mood it puts me in. I’m the person who asks if you have any New Year’s resolutions, despite no one ever being enthusiastic to hear that question. I’m the person who will swoop on you from the other side of the room if I hear you utter ‘I don’t really care about New Year’s Eve’ and explain in an unsolicited rant why you’re wrong. I’m always the most sober at midnight, because while everyone else at the party has taken the evening as an opportunity to be merciless with their livers, I want to be cognisant, sensitive, ready. In short, I’m a massive New Year’s Nerd (NYN).
I know January first is just another day, but that’s kind of the entire point: every day can be January first if you want it to be! New Year is just our best shot at remembering that. It infuses the lives of NYNs with fresh purpose and motivation. It gives us a dose of live-for-todayness, and if you can maintain it until New Year’s Eve rolls round again, I hear they make smiling pot-bellied statues of you a la Buddha.
This is why I’m so into New Year’s Resolutions as well. I say I’m going to do something differently almost every single day of my life, but if you embrace the New Year, you can make it mean more. Think of how you’re most careful with your belongings when they’re new. If I asked you to stop scuffing the toes on your three year old, worn out boots, it probably wouldn’t mean much to you, because what difference would it make anyway? Looking at your failings and beating yourself up over them is not the way to motivate yourself to do better. But feeling good about the fact that you’ve eaten your five a day every single day this year, even if it’s only January third, is how you become a new you!
But enough. I will probably spend most of January blogging about my renewed enthusiasm. I’m here to talk about this year. 2016. The year that, if the internet is to be believed, literally murdered David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, and a whole load more of your faves. The year of nightclub shootings and [more] bombings in France. The year of Brexit and The Donald FFS. The world at large had a pretty terrible 2016, and almost as if my stars wanted to make a show of solidarity, mine will also not be making any best-of lists when I buy the farm.
Exhibit A: my 2016 New Year’s resolutions, annotated:
  1. Give up alcohol and sugar for all of January.
Hahahahahahahahahahaha.
  1. Get a job.
Here’s the thing: I’ve filled out more applications for part-time work than I’ve admitted to anyone. Things I’m in no way qualified for, things I’m overqualified for, and things awfully similar to what I was doing in my last job. Someone has deemed me unsuitable for every single one. Can they tell my heart’s not in it? Erm, I write a heckin’ exceptional supporting statement, so absolutely not. And besides, some of them I’ve been truly excited about. Are they put off by the long stint of unemployment? It’s highly likely. But whatever. There’s nothing I can do about that other than continue to believe that when the perfect job comes along, I’ll be the perfect candidate.
  1. Publish my novel as an ebook.
Check! This was a big’un and I did it. Could I have done it better? Yes. In hindsight, I wish I’d thought to promote it more in advance of putting it on sale, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Getting it out there and having people I’ve never even met read it has been beyond exciting – and the work that went into it gave me real purpose for a few exciting weeks – but this was never meant to be my big break.
  1. Don’t get ill. All year.
Aim high, right? No, I did not achieve this.
  1. Finish current novel.
There was this schedule, this time last year. This beautiful, colour-coded, thoughtfully planned timeframe for a first draft of book #2. It expired seven months ago, and no, I have not finished my novel. I might have if I’d worked harder, or managed my time differently, or not made that beautiful schedule in the first place, and approached the project without as much pressure. The thing about New Year is that I get to leave the ifs and buts in the past. No, I didn’t finish my novel. Yes, I’m frustrated by that. But it’s not going to stop be putting this one back of my list of resolutions this year.
In the end, I’ve realised it’s not the resolutions that matter when I look back and pass judgement on the year. Or it is, but not in the way I’m valuing them. I pick a list of things I think will help me grow and change, and it’s the growing and changing that makes for a successful year, whether I planned for the specifics last December or not. The problem this year wasn’t that I didn’t finish my novel, it’s that I didn’t finish anything, or start anything either. 2016 never gained momentum. The story arc was lacking. The star did her best with the source material, which was promising in parts, but repeatedly failed to deliver. While 2016 improved on the jarring pacing and frankly atrocious first half of its predecessor, it was probably, in retrospect, damaged by the hype. It was no way near as good as it promised to be.
That’s not to say there haven’t been flashes of brilliance. I visited Barcelona. I started learning Spanish so I can go back. I saw two of my closest friends get married. I started a blog, and the reactions of people who see echoes of their own stories in mine has been more than I could have hoped for. I made my first paycheck as a writer, and I even won an award for the same piece. Yes! I won an award. I taught my dog to high-five; IT’S THE EFFING CUTEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN. I’m hashtag blessed, but I’m also living in this agonising stasis, at perhaps the most important juncture of my career (aka the one which dictates whether I will ever have one) – and it’s giving me déjà vu. This New Year looks uncannily like the last one.
Here’s one thing about 2016 though: it’s over. It’s time to try again. I’m still a diehard NYN, and the New Year spirit is already bubbling inside me (not a euphemism for I have been drunk off champagne for the entire festive period, but that too). It might look like I’m Groundhog-Daying this thing, but only Bill Murray gets to live his mistakes again, and I swear on a pair of novelty 2017 glasses, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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About your A level results

About your a levels finding nemo

It’s almost A level results time, and I have an awful lot to say about that, but it could be summarised as you could not pay me enough to go through that shit again. Not millions. Not social media mogul numbers*. You. Could. Not. Pay. Me.
Now, I’m really not one for doling out advice. When the need presents itself, I like to be as vague and unhelpful as I can conceivably manage, because what the hell do I know? You’re really asking me what you’re doing wrong? Like, have you read my blog? But when it comes to you poor seventeen-year-olds, shackled to the UCAS conveyor belt your schools would like you to believe is the best and only way to plan your future, I have words of wisdom up to my eyeballs, so here are some things you should consider.
  1. You’re a foetus.
There’s a high chance you’re not sure of your choices, but you’ve had to make some anyway. I wish someone had told me it was okay to be undecided. I wish someone had told me there was time. It only takes a few short years to be able to look back on your A levels and realise nothing was as dire as you thought it was, and all that pressure was artificial, and that it’s actually pretty hard to fuck up that badly when you’re seventeen.
  1. Believe it or not, you DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO UNIVERSITY.
Your school is probably being judged on how many of its graduates get into great universities, and you have become a pawn of that system. Here’s the kicker though: if you go to university for you and you alone, and not to bolster your school’s reputation, then you can go whenever you want – there is no upper age limit on tuition fee loans in the UK. I cannot stress how confident I am of this next bit of advice: take a couple of years out. Not one year; that’ll barely get you out of the system for a couple of months before applications start again. Take some real time to grow into the adult you’ll become; to explore life outside of education; to realise that you don’t have to like what your friends like or want what your parents want for you. Maybe you’ll realise your future doesn’t lie in higher education at all. If you want to deliver pizzas or paint houses or walk dogs for a living, guess what? YOU CAN. That is not a lack of ambition; you’re only guilty of that if you decide what you want isn’t worth the effort involved. There’s value and joy to be found in a whole plethora of jobs that absolutely do not require a degree. Personally, I love me a bit of heavy lifting. I love being on my feet for an entire eight-hour shift (yes, future me is guilty of the purchase of one of those pretentious standing desks). What’s more, I believe thoroughly and whole-heartedly in the value of a little customer service experience, preferably when you’re young and malleable. Oxford might make you a brilliant academic, but working in a cinema for six years made me a better person, which is infinitely more valuable and didn’t cost me £36,000.
  1. It’s not the end of the world if you make the wrong decisions
Getting your A level results and a spot at a great university just reeks of finality. I know it feels like the be all and end all. Now that you’ve hopped onto the successcalator (Trademark Hannah Mathewson) the only way is up, and if you fuck up, it’s all over. Well, it doesn’t work like that. If you ask me, you’ve come out of sixth form a success, not if you bagged straight As, but if you survived without having fashioned yourself a little Pit of Worthlessness and crawled up in it to die, the way I did. My point is, anyway, that you will probably wonder if you shouldn’t have studied a science instead of English Lit. Maybe you’ll question whether Sheffield would have been a smarter choice than Southampton. Perhaps you’ll come to rue the day you talked yourself out of that Erasmus Programme. And maybe it’ll be too late to change those decisions, but it’s okay. Life goes on, and you will find other ways. Whichever way this week and the coming months go for you, you will continue to make mistakes for your whole life, and the trick isn’t to try and help that, it’s to learn to deal, to keep moving forward, and to see open doors instead of missed opportunities.
If you’re wondering about my credentials for dispensing this wisdom, then here they are: I’ve lived through it. I flunked half my A levels, then much later on I got a first class degree from a great university, and you know what? Neither of those things has mattered. I mean, sure, if you’re dead set on becoming a doctor, or an architect, and you know what you’ve got to do to get there, then go for it. But if you’re floating about, waiting for something to drop, then cut yourself some slack. It’s more important to learn who you are, what makes you tick, and how to be happy and self-confident, than it is to be starting some £30k graduate job by the time you’re 24.
Just be brave, be curious, be open-minded, and apply yourself to whatever you do, because there’s more to learn from every single experience – A level physics, three months in Asia, a retail job – than a skill or knowledge set you might never use again.
It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay. Proud of you!
*alright I’ll think about it.
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The quarter-life crisis

quarter life crisis frances ha
This thing came up on my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago asking me to assess whether I was having a quarter-life crisis. That’s right, as well as spending the middle of your life in crisis (and by all definitions, that’s like a whole third of it, right?), it is also to be expected that the twenty to thirty period will be considerably rocky too.
I have always dismissed the idea that the quarter-life crisis is even a thing – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Do I sometimes feel like I napped through orientation and have just woken up, been handed my adulthood credentials and told to hop to it? Sure. Do I experience physical nausea when I picture 95% of the potential versions of myself fifteen years from now? Occasionally. Am I having a full-blown existential breakdown? There’s a chance, yes. But it just seems so counter-intuitive. Our early adulthoods are so ripe with possibility that surely we should be loving the quarter-life; this chance we have to become who we want to be. But if possibilities are peaches, ready for the picking, then we’re grabbing at all of them in panic, casting them aside when we think better, and then, instead of climbing the heap to reach the choice fruit in the up-most branches, we’re being suffocated under the weight of our mulchy indeciveness. Or whatever.
So why the crisis? A quick Google search on the topic suggests that large numbers of twenty-somethings experience severe stress and anxiety that they attribute to the fear of not doing enough with their life; of missing out on something indefinable. In a nutshell, FOMO. We have real bad FOMO.
If the mid-life crisis is the realisation that you have more time behind you than ahead of you, and that it passed by in a flash, and that too much of it was spent poorly, then I guess the quarter-life crisis is the fear that you’re hurtling towards that eventuality and nothing can stop you. It’s the realisation that you’re heading down a path, and you’re not sure if you chose it or how many junctions you’ve already missed. Because you probably weren’t ready for any of this, and how could you be? Being a kid feels so much like you’re waiting around for this transformation, that of course you’re thrown for a loop when there isn’t one. No coming of age moment. No kid skin to shed. No chrysalis. This is it; this is your life. It will never suddenly start to feel like you think it should, so take what you have now and make what you can of it.
So yes, sure, the quarter-life crisis is a thing, along with the thing we catch at forty, the thing we catch at thirteen, and I’m sure the very serious thing we endure at eighty, on that bleak and fright-worthy home stretch. Crisis is, I think, just living. Maybe the moment when you suddenly feel like you’ve arrived – the moment the crisis is over – is the same one in which you die.
But all the same, I’ve decided I like the idea of the quarter-life crisis, and this is why: when I look around me, almost everyone else seems so sure. This is another unfavourable side-effect of living: that most of the time, you’ll be convinced you’re some kind of freak. But call your freakishness a quarter-life crisis and suddenly you’re not so weird. Yes, other people feel these things, so much so that we went and named it. It’s almost a little curative. Maybe you’re anxious and afraid, and maybe you don’t know where you’re headed from here, but you’re doing fine. Or at least other people are fucking up too and that’s basically the same thing.
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Am I going to regret this?

ex aspirational sketch of me
When you’re lying on your death bed, your regrets aren’t going to be the things you’ve done, but the things you haven’t – supposedly. Because you get one life and you’ve got to live it, not just survive it. You’ve got to treat each day like it’s your last. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, because all you have is now.
The adages are too numerous to count, but they’re all bullying us with the same anxious message: Do things. See things. Go places. Start today. Don’t delay. Don’t stagnate. Don’t waste your precious time. Live live live.
Like, no shit, but could you stop reminding me? It’s getting a little aggressive. It’s making me tetchy.
Because I live at home. I don’t leave very often. I don’t meet many people or make new friends. I’m not doing a lot of things I want to be doing, in favour of one that I do. It’s a ‘lifestyle’ – if you can call it that – that closes doors all by itself. The harder I focus on writing, the more other opportunities fall away.
Which opportunities, you ask? Well, I don’t know exactly, but conventional wisdom tells me they’re out there, barely within reach, lurking, taunting me. The fact is there’s nothing in particular I’m lusting after. I’m just restless, and I blame being pressured to remember, at every waking moment, that I’m dying. Considering it’s the only thing any of us can be sure of, I’d really like if we could call this one a given and stop talking about it.
It’s not that I’m in denial; quite the opposite. Active choices led me to where I am now, and they’re choices I would make again. Choices centred on spending my time how I want to, and making my numbered days count. But between the me who’s living her best life and the me of right now – who probably won’t change out of her pyjamas today – is a lot of filler I wouldn’t exactly call optimal living. If I were really living this day like it was my last, I wouldn’t be trying to force out another five hundred words of my novel. Of the things I could feasibly make happen, I’d probably be eating two dozen custard doughnuts and skipping around the countryside with my dog. Maybe naked. Definitely with a bottle of Moet Chandon in either hand.
I love to write. I love it for its own sake. But to sit in front of your laptop at the dining room table all day, to work from home, and to have whittled away a year this way for the sake of questionable progress, feels an awful lot like stagnation, and sometimes I start questioning it all. Should I be doing something else with my twenties? Will I ultimately be happier not going after what I want, with all it’s compromises and downsides, at least until some later stage?
Because I bet as you get older, people stop telling you so insistently that life is short; after all, reminding your nan that YOLO is just plain cruel. But how many of us are being propelled through our twenties by a nagging sense that there’s life to be lived, seizing to be done, days to be spent with pain-staking, exhausting economy? Perhaps I would be happier trying to satiate that anxiety in conventional ways – travelling, life-building, exercising my still-new adult independence – rather than slowly moulding into the shape of this chair. Perhaps writing can wait until enough days have passed that people feel uncomfortable telling me to seize them.
I could pack it all in, and up and leave for Peru. But I see myself, looking across the mountains from Machu Picchu, anxious because I can’t help thinking I could be doing better; could be living harder; could be even more acutely aware of my own mortality. Before I know it, my life will have passed me by in a flurry of fear that my life is passing me by.
I need to finish my novel before I visit Machu Picchu. I need to finish being here, now, and I’d like to do so with some sense of contentment; with at least moderate confidence that I’m not going to regret it. Because if we have to talk about how to live before we die, then the most important thing is to foster a happiness that follows us from our childhood bedroom to the depths of South America, or from our childhood bedroom to the dining room downstairs, if that’s where we choose to be.
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What do you like about yourself?

Beyonce hair flip
This morning I made a list of things I like about myself.
If that sounds as ridiculous to you as it did to me at first, then consider why. Having the people who love you compile such a list, and then reading it, would be a boost like no other. But my first reaction when the idea appeared in my mind out of nowhere – as if the self-confidence fairies had planted it there – was that it was a totally pointless exercise. As if it didn’t even matter what I thought.
My second reaction, as shocking as it is, was that it’s somehow kind of icky or classless to feed my own ego like that. Crazy, right? Why do I feel like I’m meant to put myself down? Is it just my own insecurity? Is it something about being a woman? Is it that we’re all trying to straddle an impossible line when it comes to what we appear to think of ourselves? We’re supposed to know how to take a compliment, but be suitably flattered, and somehow appear both confident and humble at the same time. It all means that ego gets a bad rep. It’s become synonymous with how you are branded if you fall too far over the line. But that’s bullshit. As long as you don’t let your ego impact the way you judge or treat others, and as long as it doesn’t make you blind to your privileges and your flaws, then I say feed it up.
Because if Beyoncé has taught me anything (and you know she has) it’s that the one person who should be championing me is me. My opinion of myself is what matters most, and yet I give it so little thought. Worse, even: I actually shy away from scrutinising it. I’m not sure if I’ve just been trained into snobbery about the idea, or if I’m also scared of what I’ll learn. As it stands, the latter could be true. I’m still suffering something like acute writer’s block, and my harshest critic is not being very kind about it (that’s me by the way). It’s got me wondering if I’m ever fair on myself, or if I even know how to be.
I said in a previous post that when I’m feeling like me, my self-esteem is pretty healthy, but I want to revoke my position. Because I think maybe we’re not always the best judges of our own self-esteem. Unfortunately, there are a lot of exterior forces that thrive on bringing yours down – the beauty industry; Instagram; anything within thirty feet of a Vogue magazine; every clickbait article entitled ‘10 habits of [the type of person you’re not]’; other victims of their own insecurities – so many in fact that we let this milieu of judgement and arbitrary ideals dictate to us our own value, without even really noticing that it happens. Whether or not you think you’re beautiful shouldn’t depend on how you compare to Gigi Hadid, but it probably does. Whether or not you think you’re interesting shouldn’t be influenced by that stupid thing you said three months ago and can’t stop thinking about, but it might. Which is why it’s important to stop and recognise how little it all means, and why the only thing that matters – the only thing that can actually make you happy – is that you like yourself.
And do you? Do you even know? When I tried to answer this question for myself, I kind of came up short. I mean, I think I have a pretty good grasp of my strengths and shortcomings, but that’s not an answer. I know what makes me proud of myself, but I’m not sure that’s an answer either. And I don’t get the impression I’m hard to be around, but that one’s totally beside the point, because I’m not interested in seeing myself the way others see me. I just want my own opinion, unadulterated by anyone else’s. So, I wrote a list.
I came up with six things. I don’t really know what to make of that number – is it very many? Not enough? – but the process was uncomfortably illuminating. I couldn’t help editing myself; I omitted various traits and qualities for being unattractive, or unimportant, or only sometimes true. I found myself pillaging my memory for evidence of my good qualities, mainly in the form of praise. I really struggled to separate my honest evaluation from how I think others perceive me, and it’s kind of blown my mind. I’ve always thought of myself as introspective, and I’m pretty chill about whether people like me, so why can’t I judge myself without them? Can anyone? How easy it must be to get lost in making others like us so we can like ourselves. It’s made me realise how much harder I have to work to be happy with myself; to notice the unkind thoughts and the unfair standards, and to steel myself against influences that make me want to change for the wrong reasons.
So I think you should write your own list. A real, physical, ink and paper list, so you can see for yourself what you really think – or catch a glimpse of it at least. It might not be pretty. Maybe you’ve never really questioned what your self-esteem is doing to you, and this exercise will be a head-trip. Maybe you agonise over what others thinks, but will find you can rattle off fifty things you like about yourself. And maybe you’ll start recognising some things you don’t like – but I think that’s okay. You are flawed and incomplete, and if you can take the good with the bad without tearing yourself down, you’re probably better equipped to deal with everyone else’s opinions too.
I don’t know what to do with my list now I have it. My first instinct is always to turn everything into a competition with myself – how many more things can I add? What can I work on that I don’t like? – but that’s not what this was about. All I want right now is to find the guts to own the things I don’t want to change about myself, regardless of what anyone else thinks. I want to like myself even when I can’t change, when I can’t write, and not in spite of all my flaws, but because of them.
As a final note on the subject, if you can’t seem to boost your own opinion of yourself, then at least breathe easier about everyone else’s, with one of my all-time favourite quotes, from David Foster Wallace:
“– you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.”
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Reflections on turning 26

Birthday dog

You are now entering year twenty-seven. Please check all expectations, agendas and five year plans at the gate.
I don’t mind aging. I choose to believe there are many more great things ahead of me than behind, because duh. Being a kid sucks. Being a teenager sucks. I spent nearly two decades wishing I was someone else, somewhere else, and I would trade the lack of responsibility, and the capacity for 100 revolutions on a playground roundabout without vomming, for independence and a pub quiz any day. There’s no appreciating all the perks of childhood and adolescence until they’re over, which is basically the same as saying there are none.
And though I’ve got wise to enjoying my transient privileges before they’re gone – like the ability to go braless, or to see away a bottle of Cab Sav and still get up before noon the next day – your twenties come with their own whole heap of shit. I think we grow up slower than we used to and these historically more adult years have become just a [marginally] less messy extension of our teens. I’m not comfortable in myself. I’m not thinking about where I want to be for the rest of my life. I’m not settling. And I don’t mean the way you do with someone, somewhere. I mean the way water settles, or earth after a landslide.
I do know that I never envisioned this for my mid-twenties. Monday is my twenty-sixth birthday, and the prospect of clocking up another year has me reminiscing about where I thought I’d be by now. Here’s a brief run-down:
Age 11 – Myself, Orlando Bloom, and a squillion babies
Age 13 – Anywhere but Norwich
Age 15 – Winning triple gold at the Oscars for writing, producing and directing the biggest critical and commercial hit of the century
Age 20 – Married, maybe thinking about a family
Age 23 – Writing the sequel to my runaway success of a debut
But here’s the unfortunate truth: the most accurate I’ve ever been about what life would look like going into my twenty-seventh year was at my very lowest point, when I was eighteen, hopeless, and nearly bedridden with depression.
‘Unfortunate’ may seem like a mild description. I’ll confess, it wasn’t my first reaction – picture Edvard Munch’s The Scream – but I chose the word carefully. Firstly, because I was the most accurate, but nowhere near on the money. The real twenty-six-year-old me has ambition, curiosity, faith in the love of my friends and family, and a rich, imaginative internal life that compels me to write. Even if I’m living back at home; even if I don’t have a job, and suffer heart palpitations just trying to imagine one I could handle; and even if I spend a day here and there staring at the wall and wondering where my mind has flown to, these things are everything. They’re the difference.
And secondly; because what eighteen-year-old me imagined for herself doesn’t mean jack shit. What I’ve learned from the nauseating pace of my ups and downs is that life turns on a dime, and that’s what’s wonderful about it. Most of the best things that have ever happened to me came out of nowhere, and most of the worst too. I can try and steer, but there’s no accounting for getting blown about a bit.
So, it’s unfortunate, but only because I’m sorry eighteen-year-old Hannah ever felt that way. I wish I could have told her how much would have changed between then and now. Having grown and learned more about myself, I know that the real me is an optimist – as contradictory as that may sound given the description of this blog. Of course I think about the future, but these days it’s out of focus; just shapes with fuzzy edges and moving timelines and big holes for all the surprises. All I can do is work hard to point myself in the right direction, hope for good things, and be ready and waiting in case Orlando Bloom drops by.
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