by maisie ringer ~
Things to think about to prevent me from aimlessly wasting my twenties
Your twenties are, undoubtedly, a new chapter. No longer are you the gangly, greasy teenager who wears neon to parties and blushes profusely when she goes to buy bras. No Sir! You are about to enter a critical formation period of your life; in the next decade, the real world is going to pick you up, kick you about a bit, and then drop you without a second thought, most likely with insurmountable debt. Yet throughout this period of upheaval, you will almost certainly have to make some quite immense decisions about who you are and what you believe in.
I wrote this list to myself during what can only be described as the vortex which was the first lockdown, in an attempt to consolidate some characteristics which I wish to have perfected by the time I emerge as a wizened 30-year-old. I can only hope that future-me pats current-me on the back for being a chronic list maker. So, if you are approaching or perhaps currently battling through your twenties, here are some things to bear in mind. Without further ado:
1. You need to start writing now. Everyone I seem to be reading at the moment is either an excruciatingly intelligent Christchurch graduate, who turned down an offer to work at MI5, or an effortlessly witty working-class insurgent who despite being unutterably brilliant, always has their book reviews prefaced with ‘despite being born at the bottom of a mineshaft in Timbuktu…’. You on the other hand are unforgivably middle-class, have hummus in your fridge and attended private school. You must either have so much writing in your portfolio that your employer swoons at the very sight of it, allowing you to quickly slip behind their desk and ping an email to recruitment, or you must be the wittiest, most intelligent writer since Nora Ephron and kickstart some kind of socio-political revolution which immortalises your name in the journalistic canon. Both are unlikely, but not impossible.
2. When life gives you lemons, you do not need to immediately don the Cath Kidston apron and make lemonade. Fuck that. Bitch about the lemons incessantly until you are at risk of losing all your friends and they tell you to buck up. Scream into a pillow about the lemons, cursing them with every swearword you can possibly fathom from the boiling pit of hellfire that is your rage. When you have run out of common obscenities switch to Spanish expletives; they sound more blood-curdling and sexy. Throw some plates on the floor. Write an excruciatingly passive-aggressive letter. Build a bonfire. Shriek yourself hoarse. Life is too short to be prim or to own aprons at all for that matter. Now once the venom has lost its sting, and the bitter citrus has subsided slightly, make some lemonade that would knock Mary Berry off her feet.
3. Go out and do amazing things. Things which you might be too embarrassed or scared to do. Because wonderfully fascinating people are hiding in plain sight. Try not to say no. Dance on roofs, swim naked, go to new bars. Kiss strangers on street corners (the well-lit corners of course). Fill your twenties with experiences that you can think about when you are grey and in a care home that make you smile toothlessly, prompting the nurse to assume you have wet yourself again.
4. Date indiscriminately. Just because he wears white skinny jeans with so many rips you can only assume he has recently escaped from a pack of wild dogs, it does not mean he is a bad person. Just because he smacks his fist on the table when he tells a joke, it does not mean he is a bad person. Just because he talks about cars as if they were members of his immediate family, it does not mean he is a bad person. It merely means that you have nothing in common and under absolutely no circumstance will you be set up on another blind date, regardless of the anecdote you may be able to salvage from the wreckage of an evening. No anecdote is worth a 30-minute monologue on the quite frankly homoerotic ‘high-jinx’ you and the rugby first fifteen got up to in Malia after A levels.
5. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Enemies often provide wonderful writing material (see point 4)
6. Make absolutely zero effort to smoke less. Smoking in your twenties is cool, like Danny Zuko. Smoking in your thirties is slightly sad, desperately grappling to hold on to your dwindling youth, like Kris Jenner. Make the most of twirling a cigarette between your manicured fingers. Make fleeting friends in smoking areas. But most importantly, go to Europe (Italy, Greece or Spain will work best for this), sit on the steps of some ancient monument, and smoke straights in the most seductive way possible, pretending you are a terribly misunderstood artist/philosopher. Then go and get a cornetto.
7. Undoubtedly this will be one of the hardest but try not to care too much about a) how people perceive you and b) what you look like. Not everybody is going to think you are the bee’s knees; life is a comedy gig and you are going to get heckled. Idiosyncrasies are what define us, we are snowflakes. Einstein never wore socks and Dickens used to brush his hair more than a hundred times a day. How wonderful is that! Although the media at times seems to be attempting to manipulate people into some kind of homogenous omni-race, it is so intrinsically vital that we celebrate each other’s differences. Don’t you dare alter yourself just because somebody once wrinkled their nose at you. Carrying on from this, do NOT care about what you look like. Although we live in a world which seems to place increasing impetus on looks first and personality second, there is nothing more mind-numbingly tedious than someone who is darting backwards and forwards to the bathroom to top up their make-up or fluff up their hair. Your make-up probably looked like you did it in the back of a badly lit taxi anyway, you are only contributing to the Heath Ledger ‘Joker’ effect (the addition of booze and strobe lights will only exacerbate this). Put simply, the less fucks you give, the happier you will be. Prove me wrong.
8. This is the final point, and I cannot express it fervently enough. Dance. In. Front. Of. Your. Mirror. I swear by it. It cures most things. Put The Beatles on and go. You don’t need to try and dance sexily or even well, just throw your weight around a bit. If you are doing it properly you should look as though you are doing an imitation dance for a cult; there should be arms everywhere and you should be pin-balling up and down your bedroom at the risk of smashing something.
Now mop the beads of sweat from your brow, and repeat from step 1.