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

Hello

Hello,

It’s been a while. It feels strange starting a blog post as a letter, but this page has always felt personal and when I’ve thought about writing this, it has felt a lot like a letter I need to write. Like a friend I need to get back in touch with and update on my life. I guess maybe that’s one reason why I’ve put it off for a while, sometimes there is so much to say you don’t know where to start or how or whether anyone cares at all.

I guess the main thing is I’ve moved to London, to Brixton, with a couple of friends from school. It all happened relatively quickly, we made the decision and had moved in within a month. At first I think that made me doubt whether it was the right thing, perhaps because we are taught to be rational and to think things through and make sure we’ve planned ahead. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you just can’t plan ahead. Depsite it perhaps not being the best decision financially, I think it was the right thing to do on all other counts. It’s made me feel like things are back on track again, that I’m actually an adult and it’s reminded me that life works in phases and I’m really bloody excited for this one. That being said, moving out for good has been strange. This is the first time in my life where I won’t go home for two months over Christmas or Summer, when I won’t head back to Bedford after I finish travelling and I don’t think that’s really sunk in yet, suddenly I’ve made a pretty permanent change.

I think that’s a good thing though, everyday I feel more and more like myself. I think I’d kind of forgotten who that was. I’m busy again, surrounded by people who make me laugh and feel good, it feels like I’m remembering what real life is like. I’ve also remembered what it’s like to be ok on my own and regain my independence, I feel like I’d started relying on others and what they thought of me more than I’d like. My own emotional intensity from the past year has began to subside and it feels a bit like something heavy has been lifted off my chest. I know that’s not the case for everyone and I’m not naïve, just feeling good again and grateful for it.

People keep asking how the job hunt is going and all I can say is, well, it’s going. Relatively unsuccessfully as of yet but it’s definitely going. Since lockdown lifted, there are definitely more jobs out there, the issue is there are also more people applying for them. I feel like job applications can be pretty demoralising at the best of times so you can imagine (and I’m sure many of you know) how rubbish it is. But a job will come, things will change again. On the plus side, it means I’ve actually been able to get to know my new area, to make a few new friends and engage in the community. I don’t know when the next chance to take things this slowly will be so I’m trying to make the most of it, fill my days with personal productivity and focus on smaller moments, to enjoy the little lights. There’s a poem I keep seeing on the tube called Time To Be Slow that I’ve read again and again. It speaks of not letting the wire brush of doubt scrape away your sense of self and how, if you remain generous, the air will become blushed with new beginnings. I think we’re all waiting for new beginnings and I hope yours find you soon.

Last week I turned 23, it’s an age I’m excited for and was grateful to mark with some brilliant people who made me feel very special. That being said, I felt far less invested in my birthday than I used to, I think it’s partly because, as I’ve gotten older, I put less pressure on age as a marker of accomplishments. There are far more tangible ways to look back on my achievements than simply the passing of time. Also, there is far less to be excited about when you can’t have a party, so maybe that was it.

I hope you’re well and staying both safe and sane. I know the next few months don’t look particularly bright but don’t underestimate yourself. As an individual I think you’re more prepared than you realise, we’re adaptable and you have survived this once before, you’ll do it again.

India x

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

Things To Look Forward To

Some days I feel settled into this new normal and on others I’m having lunch at 4pm and drinking quite a lot of gin. So, regardless of what kind of day I’m having, I’ve been trying to think about all the things I’m looking forward to and what I want to do when this is all over and I thought I’d share my list. Some of it’s mundane and some of it’s a bit more specific. I hope it makes you smile regardless.

So, when this is over I will

  • Have a bloody big party, a full on weekend long shabang
  • Finally swim in The Ponds on Hampstead Heath
  • Get Frozen Yoghurt from the Soho Snog after 9pm, it’s scientifically proven to taste better after this time I don’t know why
  • Meet someone at the St Pancras Champagne Bar
  • Be better at supporting local businesses
  • Sit in a coffee shop for at least 5 hours and just people watch
  • Go to the beach
  • Consume an entire jug of Pimms to myself
  • Go strawberry picking for strawberries to use in said jug of Pimms
  • Spend a day exploring in London without getting the bus or tube
  • Go Out Out and really dance
  • Have brunch at Granary Square and then play in the fountains
  • Go to a National Trust property every weekend for a month
  • Drive aimlessly
  • Shop, sensibly, but definitely shop
  • Go camping with friends in Cornwall
  • Eat a lot of sushi
  • Go to a gig every night for a week
  • Continue to bake obscene amounts of banana bread
  • Smile at everyone I see at the gym, even if it’s mildly creepy
  • Go punting and actually do the punting bit myself
  • Always have flowers in the house
  • Buy more plants generally and keep them alive
  • Go to the supermarket just to buy one thing, or even just walk around
  • Enjoy being stuck in traffic or on delayed trains…maybe enjoy is a strong word but I’ll stress less
  • Dress up for no reason
  • Never again say ‘If only I had more time’, I currently have all the time and if anything am less productive
  • Spend an entire afternoon in the park
  • Get whatever I want at Pret and not worry about the price

Tell me what you want to do, tell me what you miss, get in touch I want to hear it all.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

London

A month ago I moved to London. I’m living in a house full of builders and dust and mice. Everything is expensive and I miss Leeds and there are so many people that I physically bump into someone daily. A woman accidentally put her hand in my mouth on the tube and every social occasion seems to involve too much alcohol. But I’m happy, so happy that some days I almost skip to work and in my lunch breaks I can’t stop smiling. I feel very lucky to be here, to be meeting people, to be experiencing it all.

I seem to have a lot of time in my own head at the moment which, for once, I actually don’t mind, it’s giving me a chance to just take it all in and watch it all happen. I thought I’d share some of the random things I’ve been thinking about and taking in…

Black Tie

There is something about a person dressed in black tie that can turn a dreary dark evening into something more like a dream. The possibility of seeing someone in their finery as I leave the office as the light fades and head towards the Northern line is one of my favourite things about living in London. There is such a difference in our evening plans that I can’t help but feel excited for them, to feel curious. Who are they? Where are they going? What’s the event and where will the night take them?

I guess that happens regularly though in smaller ways, I often find myself people-watching and creating stories for the individuals I see. We love to live vicariously through others, to speculate and wonder about the goings on in people’s lives. We do it with those closest to us but when they’re a stranger, you’ll never know how close you are to the truth and I think that’s part of the excitement. Perhaps it is easier to daydream about someone else’s life than our own. To consider all of the options rather than have any confirmed. I think there’s a reassurance that comes with that though. If we imagine all the possibilities of someone else’s life, it reminds us of all the possibilities of our own. Of all the possibilities of a night in black tie.

Candy Crush

The underground is probably the only place you will see more than 5 self-respecting adults playing Candy Crush at the same time. Firstly I didn’t know anyone still played Candy Crush and secondly, I didn’t know it was the go to game for commuters. And yet, there is something about the monotonous rhythms of the tube and our compulsive need to distract ourselves that mean as soon as people mind the gap and step onto the train, they are desperate for something to do, they cannot just be, and so out comes their phone and they join their fellow travellers in staring at the familiar grid of brightly coloured shapes.

As people we find it very difficult to just be, we are filling our time with background noise, potentially to stimulate and educate us but maybe so we don’t have to listen to whatever is at the forefront. It’s a daily distraction and I know that most of us have them, whether its TV or podcasts or reading, I’m just surprised by how many I’ve noticed reaching for the same simple game.

That being said, I do see the appeal. There have been a number of times where I’ve caught myself peering over a fellow passenger’s shoulder and almost tutting aloud because they decided to move the blue sweet instead of the purple one.

Age

I have noticed that being in London makes me feel younger again. I’m aware that I’m not old, hence youngER, but I’m surprised. I’m living alone and have my first full-time job and yet I feel younger than I did at university. It’s a good thing, I think there is a sense of freedom and spontaneity that you can associate with your early twenties and after losing that for a while I was worried it was already over. I have a theory about it though. When you leave university, you’re normally one of the oldest amongst your peers and everyone is talking about life after graduation and it feels like a huge step. But then, and I know this won’t be true for everyone, then I moved to a city where I am one of the youngest again and very few people actually refer to the fact I’ve just graduated, they’re not fussed about what I did in Leeds they just want me to do the job. The stage I’m at in life feels far less important.

It’s a nice change, I don’t have to worry about readings I should be doing or essays I should be writing, work stops at 5 and I have the evenings to socialise and do whatever I want. Yes going to work 9-5 5 days a week has taken some getting used to but we’re getting there and it was going to have to happen at some point. It’s all only temporary which is maybe why it’s reassuring, I can have fun adulting for a few months then run away to Australia when it all gets a bit much because living in London has been a needed reminder that actually, when you graduate, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.

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Interning

Intern and work experience culture is something being widely discussed at the moment. People are talking about how accessible it is, about a lack of diversity, what you gain from it, how fair it is and as a recent graduate looking for a job in the media industry, its something I’m witnessing first hand and thinking about a lot.

I understand the need for experience, that a degree only says so much and you often have to prove yourself. I know that people need to see hard work rather than just trusting you and I understand that most businesses, especially those in the media, don’t have spare cash floating around to pay you with, I realise I’m not ready to walk straight into the job of my dreams, but there’s a line.

My view is that you should get something out of work experience, the clue is in the name, it should be experience, especially if its unpaid. Ultimately, being unemployed doesn’t mean your time isn’t worth anything. It’s worth skills, insight, knowledge and even though none of those pay the bills, they are worth something. The issue arises when you’re not getting anything out of it, when you don’t feel you’re learning or being productive or bettering yourself or the organisation you’re working for. A lack of experience should not equate to a lack of respect, respect for my time, my intelligence, the experience and skills I do have. If an organisation is taking on interns, they should be sure there is something for them to do (it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything incredible, as long as its something), to learn and hopefully enjoy.

As you can probably tell, I have just done some pretty rubbish interning with a company I was really excited to work for. There was very little for me to do, the tasks I did carry out were very repetitive and uninteresting, I wasn’t given any insight into how the business worked or what each person’s role was or how the team operated. My supervisor clearly resented the fact I was her responsibility and the office culture felt unwelcoming, hierarchical and slightly arrogant. As I say, I don’t mind what I’m doing on work experience, as long as its something, but hours would pass where I was sat at a desk with nothing to do and my supervisor ignoring my messages asking if there was anything I could help with. There was a lack of economic and cultural diversity within the team, and I know that I speak from a position of privilege, but I was reminded of what a luxury London-based work experience is. The week before I started I was told my own laptop would be an ‘essential’ everyday but I know that its an ‘essential’ many don’t have. It was such a shame, a business I’ve loved and admired since I was small made me feel smaller than ever.

My thought is that for work experience to be a success, it has to be a two-way agreement that benefits both parties. There is no way that it’ll work if either the employer or the intern think they are doing the other a favour, it needs to be a mutual exchange. If you are taking on interns, make sure there is something for them to do that helps benefit you, that you have factored them into office routine while they are there, that there is something they can learn before they leave. If you’re an intern, be prepared to be busy, to do whatever is asked of you, to learn and to remind yourself of your value and end goal every so often. Ultimately, only you can decide what that end goal is worth.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

Company

A week ago I went down to London to see the most recent version Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company’, a play about Bobby, who is celebrating his 35th birthday whilst his friends are all wondering why he isn’t married.

I’ve seem Company before, however this was a production with a twist. Rather than being a male lead, Bobby has become Bobbie, a woman attempting to navigate unmarried life. Marianne Elliott has reimagined the much loved musical to be far more 21st century, showing that there perhaps is no normal version of adult life. Bobbie spends the performance weighing up the pros and cons of married life and trying to decide what she wants. We get an insight into her relationships and the questionable men she dates along the way. Rosalie Craig is the lead and she was brilliant, portraying Bobbie as likeable and friendly, rather than the detached male characters we’re used to. You can see why her married friends want to keep her around.

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Credit: Company Production Shots

Speaking of her friends, they’re all portrayed wonderfully too with Patti LuPone and Mel Giedroyc returning to the stage. A particular favourite of mine however was Jonathan Bailey with his rendition of ‘I’m Not Getting Married Today’. He plays Jamie (previously Amy but now one half of the show’s gay couple) and it’s a hilarious scene with cast members popping out of freezers as Jamie has a minor break down over his impending wedding. His character is the only other gender switch and again, it really works. The only other noticeable change is the swap in Jenny and David’s dialogue so that Jenny is a high-powered career woman whilst David is the stay at home dad. Again, nothing that groundbreaking but certainly more suited to the modern day.

I won’t go on too much but just know it’s brilliant and definitely worth going to see. The set is unique (Elliott directed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time so think something along those lines) and the cast sound wonderful together with songs you’ll be singing for days. Seriously, go and see it.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

 

Leeds

In a week I head back to Leeds, and although there is still a while until my final year actually starts, I’m already starting to worry about what life might hold after it and I already have a strange sense of nostalgia.

The truth is that for me, university wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, at least not straight away. I found the majority of my first year incredibly lonely and overwhelming, which was something I hadn’t experienced before. I think perhaps we hear so many stories about how amazing it is and how you meet so many people who become your friends for life that you’re not prepared for what happens when it doesn’t meet those expectations. I found it could be quite isolating. I loved being in a city though and pushed myself to keep meeting people and by the end of the year, I was sad to leave it all.

Second year was much better, I felt far more settled and preferred being in a house. I surrounded myself with like minded people, made sure my days were busy and took advantage of opportunities that came my way and the city I was in. I spent a lot of the year laughing and doing things that made me happy with people who made me happy.

 

 

But now, I’m thinking about my final year, about all the things I said I would do at university but haven’t, about how quickly it’s all gone and about what I’m going to do after it’s over. It’s not that I’ve got no idea what I want to do, it’s that there are so many things, I have so many different paths I could go down. I need to remember that there’s no rush, I have 9 years left of my twenties and as hyped up as they are, there are plenty of years after them. I guess I just have to make the most of what is planned, because after that who knows where I’ll be.

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So this year, I’m going to work, yes, but I’m also going to join the societies I didn’t quite get round to joining and explore the city a bit more. I promised my mum I’d do a night of stand up comedy but perhaps that’s still a bit far-fetched. I want to actually do my readings so that there’s less late night library sessions and more time spent with friends.

Most importantly, I’m going to try not to compare my experiences with everyone else’s, because I’m pretty sure they’re probably just as stressed about it all as me.

 

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Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett