Adulting.

The first voice note I sent as 2020 came to its long awaited close and we rolled into the early hours of 2021 was not a drunken profession of love, nor was it some endless ramblings and reflection on the past year, it wasn’t even an overly enthusiastic Happy New Year message to someone I definitely should not be messaging after consuming that much champagne. It was to my flatmate, at 2am, loudly announcing my concern that we’d forgotten to pay our council tax before we came home for Christmas. And with that message, and a painful hangover, I realised that in a kind of messy, not always on top of it and very unexpected way, I had become an adult (ish). I know that actually having remembered to pay our council tax would have been the more grown up thing to do, but we’re getting there, small steps.

I’ve been thinking about this more since I came back to London. Home was full of too much food, positive covid tests and a sort of scraping the barrel attempt at festivities. Despite the strangeness, you can always rely on family dynamics and the characterstics of the people you’ve grown up with to come through. Somehow, whenever we come together, we seem to resort to our childish tendencies, regardless of how old we get. When I’m in Bedford I find myself toeing that blurry fine line of adult and childhood that seems to appear in your early twenties. I’ll cook complicated full meals for my family and yet nothing makes me feel more like I’m 15 again than when my sister winds me up so much that I lose control of my temper. I’ll pour a glass of wine to sit and watch Grand Designs on a weeknight but will spend the ad breaks moaning to my mum about how much time my brother spends in the bathroom. I’ll do our weekly food shop, walk the dog, help with life admin, organise my own plans (just walks) but I’ll bicker with my brother about why I don’t want to take the bins out. I’ll get frustrated if I’m not given the point in a heated game of Scattegories, I’ll get into moods where I demand sole attention from my mum and I’ll roll my eyes when I have to tell her where I’m going (on a walk).

Since moving out, the majority of those things have fallen to the wayside. My weekly food shop is just for me and I don’t have to worry about sharing a bathroom with my brother (just two other girls with incredibly intensive skincare routines). As well as the boring things like paying council tax, resetting the boiler pressure and remembering that Tuesday night is bin night, being in London has let me explore the boundaries of myself outside of the dynamics of my family or university. I know those boundaries are limited at the moment, they don’t stretch much further than the local park, the nearest Aldi and the coffee shop round the corner, but still, the small routines make me feel like I have some sense of independence. I know that all of this is coming from a place of privilege, and there is much more to adulthood than the actual act of moving out. I’ve noticed a change in the way I think, the way I decide which relationships to prioritise, the way I look at my own worth, a difference in what I put my effort into and a shift in what I spend my time worrying about. These things weren’t sudden, and I hope they would’ve happened anyway, but I needed that nudge to acknowledge them, a reason to look back on how much I’ve changed over the past few years.

Growing up does not mean I can now suddenly keep all of my plants alive, it does not mean I’ve stopped losing socks or that I now only read intellectual novels. It does not mean my flat is always tidy and full of freshly baked bread and flowers. I still have a tendency to accidentally finish a bottle of wine when I planned to only have a glass and I don’t hoover regularly enough to stop balls of dust and crumbs from gathering on our kitchen floor. Messy bedrooms, microwave meals, hangovers, wrong choices, debt, procrastination and oversleeping all still exist. The thing that has changed is my acceptance of them, my understanding of balance and strangely enough, my excitement for the whole process.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

21

A week ago I turned 21. It’s taken me this long to write this because I haven’t really known what to say (and I’ve been ridiculously busy but we’ll gloss over that).

I had the most wonderful birthday celebrations, I was spoilt rotten and had an amazing party surrounded by people I love and yet there was a strange nostalgia that came with the weekend.

Birthdays are strange generally, a bit like New Years Eve in that they give you a chance to reflect on the past year and all the things you did or didn’t achieve and it can feel odd celebrating a day that feels like any other. I feel like 21 is meant to mark a bit of a transition into adulthood, I am now closer to 30 than I am to 10, obvious I know, but it’s something I feel very aware of. I don’t feel like an adult but I don’t feel like a teenager either, I’m somewhere in between attempting to navigate day to day life.

This week hasn’t felt any different to the ones I experienced when I was 20, to be honest it doesn’t feel much different to the ones I experienced when I was 18 but looking back, I know that a lot has changed. I have grown, I have new opinions, I have new people in my life and I know far more. Change is gradual, growing up is gradual but it’s happening.

img_8268.jpg

I did think about doing a ’21 things I’ve learned in 21 years’ type thing but then realised that firstly, I don’t know anything groundbreaking and secondly, that it would be too cliche, even for me. I will say this though; all you can do is your best, people come and go in phases and nothing beats a good sunset.

I don’t know what this next year will hold, hopefully some more growth, a degree, lots of laughter. I’m constantly working on getting closer to the person I want to be, even if I’m not too sure who that is yet.

img_2878.jpg

Thank you to everyone who was involved in my birthday celebrations in any way, you’re wonderful.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

 

Normal People

Last week I did something a bit different. I went to a book event. On my own.

For those of you that don’t know, these events generally happen in bookshops across the country shortly after an author has published their latest book. They chat about the book, answer some questions and do a quick signing. Exciting stuff. The one I went to was for Sally Rooney’s new book, Normal People, where she was interviewed by Literary Friction podcast host Octavia Bright.

IMG_2642

Firstly, let me say the book itself is brilliant and worth a read. It follows the entangled lives of Marianne and Connell as they begin to navigate the adult world, both together and apart. It’s set over 4 years, beginning with the pair’s initial conversation whilst they’re still at school, and then continuing to their university careers. It looks at power dynamics, intimacy, self-awareness and how they all change over time, particularly during the early years of adulthood, something I definitely relate too. There is nothing particularly great about the characters other than that, as the title would suggest, they are normal people who feel very real.

Rooney had a wonderful ability to answer any questions about the book with a wider context. Her comments and opinions meant I left the evening with far more to think about than where the inspiration from the characters came from. As I mentioned, the novel looks at power dynamics, something Rooney admitted to having a fascination with. To her, a power imbalance is a crucial element to any relationship worth writing about, one in equilibrium is too steady to create a story that’s exciting and emotional. She wonders how we can strive for a power balance in our relationships and whether that’s something we should even be striving for at all. I would say that yes, it is. It is unfair of us to want to have a hold over someone, or to let them get away with having one over us. I think there is a difference between treating someone well out of love and putting them on a pedestal to be adored regardless of their behaviour. A relationship in balance is not boring, it’s healthy.

Sally also mentioned that she spends a lot of time wondering about our individual senses of self and whether such a thing exists, or if we are just composites of those around us, if we are ‘thumbprints of the collective’. I think we are obviously combinations of our surroundings, the people we know and the things that have happened to us, but that doesn’t mean that our independence is any less valuable. Just because we are shaped by external factors, it does not mean our internal personality is fake or any less unique. Without other influences, we would never change or grow and adapt.

IMG_2665

Finally, Rooney was asked about the role authors and artists have in today’s society, a society where there is so much wrong. She said that in simple terms, art itself is not revolutionary, it’s a commodity. She spoke about how the axis between art and commerce is always going to be uncomfortable because as much as art likes to criticise the commercial norms, one cannot exist without the other. Not all books are controversial or informative or insightful, and when they aren’t it can feel like an indulgence to immerse yourself in such a simple form of pleasure, why are we entitled to do so when there are so many bigger issues? Shouldn’t we be spending that time doing things to help?

I think that yes, there is much that needs to be changed about the world and no, that change is not going to come from reading. But, it does’nt mean you can’t enjoy the book, or go and listen to the author talk about it for that matter. It starts a conversation, and who knows what could come from that.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett