Dear July, four // mirrors and becoming

Friday, 8 July 2016


When we were younger – like, a lot younger – my sister, Emilie, and I used to talk to ourselves in the bathroom mirror. Or, not really to ourselves. We imagined that we were addressing a captive audience on the other side of the glass. We were presenters of a TV show – a self-help programme for the seemingly incompetent – where we’d demonstrate nightly, through mouths full of Colgate, how to clean your teeth.

‘Goo eev-u-ning’ – was usually how it would go, tilting our heads back to try and slow the progress of white foam sliding down our chins – ‘Iss is ow you bruss oor teef’’ (For the record, it’s quite tricky to brush and speak simultaneously).  

I remember another mirror conversation – in our shared bedroom this time, the imagined audience now dissolved – where we both peered at our own faces, pulling at them, and one of us said,

‘What do you think we’re going to look like when we’re grown up?’ 


I sat there, scrunching my eyes to blur my reflection, trying to picture myself as an adult. The answer seemed a long way off, but I was curious to find out who I was going to become.

Well, last week when I was drying my hair, that memory popped back into my head and it caused an odd sensation to recognise – goodness – here I am “an adult” now and:

‘This. It turns out I look like this.’*

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I turned twenty five on Tuesday. And, over the past few days, I’ve spent quite a bit of time writing and scrapping and then rewriting and re-scrapping a post about the significance (or perhaps insignificance) of this age: two five. The big ‘quarter of a century’ birthday. 


“I had to wait in a queue at the train-station on Monday,” I wrote in one draft, talking about noticing the decisive shift from Early-Twenties to Mid, “because if I tried to renew my Young Person’s railcard a day later, I’d no longer qualify for the discount.” 

“Girls we grew up with used to say, ‘I’m going to wait till I'm twenty-five to get married,’” I wrote in another, more introspective, draft. “Like, you could put in an order and exact delivery date for major life events and by twenty five you’d’ve seen and done and experienced enough of the world to be ready to settle down...”

None of the drafts were hitting the right tone though and – even though some were super wordy – none seemed to be saying anything other than: heavens, where on earth has the time gone? Which – even though: yikes, where has it gone, guys? – doesn’t make for a very interesting piece for *you* to read. So let me just say this instead:


I am now twenty-five years old. Yes. And this is what I look like. I think I’m realising, though, that there’s never going to be a year when I can say, with certainty: ‘This is who I am for sure. I’ve become who I am going to be’. Because ‘becoming yourself’ is a lifelong dance, it seems. And I’m still figuring out how to dance it.

This year: may I become more. More kind, more curious. More productive and more inclined towards attentiveness than distraction. May I become more willing to speak up, find more reasons to be thankful, write more words that will stick, go more places that bring light, spend more hours with the ones who build me up...

//

Notes.)

*About 'this is what I look like': I don’t mean that in a bitter ‘I am as ugly as a bear’ type way. Or a congratulatory ‘and a lovely face it is too’. More: ‘Huh. Well there you go. I’m an adult now and that is my face.’


ps. Even though I obviously don’t think of myself as a child anymore (that would be weird), it still feels odd to call myself “adult”. I keep on thinking of that Harry Potter spoof where Dumbledore looks down at Harry – played by Dawn French – and says in this serious voice, ‘You’re a woman, Harry.’

(‘Yer a woman, Melissa.’)

*Pictures in the post are by Helena Perez Garcia (her illustrtions are quite lovely, and her website is: here.)

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