Aside from 'the problems', I've virtually always considered birthdays to be more depressing than celebratory. I don't care much for the notion of a day on which all of the attention is focused on me, and instead the day on which I was born tends to bring a sense of my own mortality much closer to the forefront of my mind than it generally is...which is saying a lot, as I'm often fixated with it to begin with.
24 has always struck me as the age at which I'm meant to really, actually, truly, wholeheartedly grow up. Which, in essence, means setting the vast majority of my neuroses aside once and for all and becoming that confident, strong, take-no-prisoners kind of woman I've aspired to be for as long as I can remember. 24 is, in my mind, when I'm supposed to legitimately become a 'woman' for that matter (I don't know about you, but I certainly haven't considered myself to be one yet - Girl, maybe? Chick, definitely. Woman...yeah, not a chance).
When I awoke on the 27th of June I begun weaving this tangled mess inside my own head, effectively psyching myself out before the day had even brought me to my feet. Typical me.
But the universe often has a funny way of reminding us of those things we've forgotten, those conversations, images and thoughts which have been stored in the deep recesses of some convoluted memory bank, just waiting for the time and place at which it somehow knew there would be relevance to the seemingly irrelevant, all of which didn't strike you as at all worthwhile at the time.
Flipping through an old issue of Harper's Bazaar I noticed two images, both of which I'd discussed with my mother while we were getting pedicures a few months ago. They are as follows:
Daisy Lowe, in a [fantastic] Meisel editorial. Gwyneth Paltrow, in a Tod's advert.
There was little debate between us as to the physical attractiveness of either, as they're both, quite obviously, beautiful (in these specific photos at the very least). And so the topic of our argument was not who looked better, but rather concerned a certain taste level.My generally adversarial nature aside, I ascertained that it was, in fact, Daisy who looked cooler, better, more awesome and so on and so forth. My mother, naturally, proposed the opposite. "What's so uncool about having clean hair and nice skin and not looking strung-out?" she asked me, to which I of course responded with "it's boring" or something equally dumb-sounding and ignorant. We continued to prattle on and on about this until the people scrubbing our feet were surely dead bored with listening to us, our polish had dried and we sauntered out of the salon - me slightly more defensive and pissed off, and her slightly more concerned about my general aspirations in life.
This was, of course, all swept under the rug by the time we reached the nearest Starbucks...god, I must sound like an insufferable yuppie right now, what with all this talk of pedicures and Starbucks....but I digress. On the morning of June 27th I came across these images again, and perhaps for the first time ever, I saw what my mother had seen.
At 24 years old I finally want to start being good to myself.
It's not that I have to grow up, it's that I actually, legitimately, whole-fucking-heartedly want to. I don't want to be a nail-biter, I don't want to have dark circles around my eyes, I don't want to eat shit food and then starve myself for a week, I don't want legs that are pale and bruised, I don't want to play silly games with dudes that I know are all wrong for me but go out with anyways. I don't want to, I don't want to, I DO NOT want this.
Starving artists are so goddamn romanticized, and at last I really do see that there's nothing romantic about it. I can safely state that, from my experience of being one and knowing many, it doesn't produce better art. It does, however, succeed in making you miserable and perpetually dissatisfied. And ugly. And, chances are, age rapidly (and I am nothing if not admittedly vain). It also grants you a free pass to make terribly bad decisions. Of which I've made many.
And so it goes. On the birthday that was chalked up to be one of the most depressing yet, I didn't get a party, but a what currently feels like a radiant, shiny new lease on life.
At 24 years old I'm going to embrace the inner Gwyneth, be my own best friend and listen to that little voice inside of my head that knew I would get here all along.
P.S. If it's been implied that I plan on turning into a pretentious, condescending, prissy bitch who never has any fun, I apologize for the lack of clarity on my end. It simply means the end of total wasterdom, and the beginning of this wonderful thing called self-care.