The Final Countdown: 29 Years and 11 Months

Dearest Reader,

I am only one month away from turning .., well you know. The big 3-0. I thought this would be a very timely reflection of what it has been like to be 29.

Mostly, I’ve done a lot of sitting and thinking, which sounds a little basic but I don’t recall doing this much before hitting this final countdown to adulthood.

I have thought more about my health, my social life, my friends and my family. I have also thought more about the things in my home, the things I want and the things I definitely don’t.

Overwhelmingly, it has been a positive, happy year, and not the scary nightmare I thought it would be.

Yes, noticing the first lines on your face is a total downer, but being faced with your own mortality kind of motivates you to take care of yourself. This year I am proud to say that I have been walking to work, running in the park, getting up early to do Pilates classes, calling in sick when I am sick, not eating fast food and cutting down on the ridiculous amounts of nachos and beer I was consuming regularly.

I have also finally made peace with the fact that I am happiest in my PJs, braless, at home, watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I no longer feel the need to prove to society that I have a thriving social life by attending outings at places I hate with people I have little to talk about.

Of course, I still enjoy socialising with my friends, but I have certainly said goodbye to those nights when you squeeze yourself into an uncomfortable dress, then fight with your face and hair before forcing your feet into shoes that feel like you’re wearing barb wire and then partying all night simply so you can be seen and known as a sociable person.

So, embracing my inner couch potato has been amazing, and I don’t care who knows it.

Finally, let’s talk about stuff. Consumerism is deeply embedded in our culture, and I have certainly fallen victim to it. When I started reflecting on the things I have, I realised what a fortune I have wasted on skincare products, expensive ‘special occasion’ clothes, and even just ‘cute’ stationary. So 29 has been all about getting rid of shit – especially things that made me feel guilty, annoyed or anxious.

For instance, I have given away clothes that don’t fit me, because it is highly unlikely that I will get back my figure from high school because yes, I had a pair of jeans from when I was 17 that I was hoping to fit into, and it was frustrating me that I couldn’t. I finally acknowledged that I won’t fit into it again not because I’m fat but because, well, I grew out of them!

You also chuck people – that person you worked with 8 years ago for 7 months? Really don’t need to follow their story on Facebook anymore. That high school friend that’s kind of the Eric Cartman in the group and their stupid face and attitude has annoyed you for over a decade? Delete their number. Making space for the people you really care about and dedicating your time to them is much more fulfilling. Yes, 29 teaches you that it is about the quality, not quantity of friends.

So does this make the 30s any less daunting?  

It really doesn’t. It still sounds scary as hell.

But I am ready to say goodbye to my 20s, knowing that I don’t want to be 22 again, because have enjoyed all there was to enjoy, made all the mistakes required to learn and done all the growing needed to face the next decade.

So here’s to all the 29-year olds out there, I hope this year is as enlightening for you as it has been for me.

 

Summary of Self-Help Books

Dearest Reader,

On a recent visit to a book store, I wandered around and found the self-help section.

Intrigued by what society is currently wrestling with, I browsed through the sections and recognised that all these books could be divided into the following categories:

  1. I am too fat
  2. I am too poor
  3. I have no friends
  4. I am too stupid

So here I am, dearest reader, to help you through these issues with a simple post that broadly covers all of them, along with a no-nonsense solution.

1. I am too fat

Well, if you are residing in the western world, this comes as no surprise. It is cheaper, easier and requires much less effort.

But if you don’t like the excess amount of ‘you’, the solution these books give you is healthy, educational and considers your psychological wellbeing. These are commendable contents, and the bottom line is – eat less, exercise more. Find whatever is making you want to eat, and deal with it.

But of course, many of us still fail. So here’s my suggestion.

Just don’t do anything.

Literally, sit in a chair, turn on the TV, stare at it and do nothing.

Don’t get up to buy food, don’t get up to cook food, don’t lift your phone to order food. If you do this long enough, you’ll lose weight.

Just Netflix this one out.

2. I am too poor

Keep sitting in that chair. Don’t do anything, don’t see anything, don’t spend anything. You keep Netflixing, and like a magic trick, you’ll save money while losing weight.

3. I have no friends

Perhaps you lack the basic social skills that are appreciated by other humans, such as humour, good conversation or the willingness to get intoxicated and do ridiculous things that others can capture on video.

There are countless books on learning social skills, opening your heart to people and finding love, all of which require digging into the depths of your childhood to deal with your mother issues. Eventually, you’ll eat wholemeal pasta and discover Jesus with your new friends.

If you prefer the easier and quicker alternative, you might find that dogs are quite easy to befriend as long as you provide them with food. It doesn’t even have to be good food.

You may have to limit your social interaction to the strategic throwing and subsequent retrieval of tennis balls and sticks, and develop a tolerance for the collection of faecal matter, but it’s a small sacrifice for what I understand to be a low-maintenance kind of friendship.

4. I am too stupid

This is a tough one. It requires time.

You may not want to go through the entire “…. for Dummies” range, nor do you have the kind of time and money to go back to school.

Alas, we can’t all be groundbreaking professors, skillful doctors, clever entrepreneurs and inspiring leaders. But this is no reason to despair; in fact, being a little on the stupid side has come back into fashion, as recent evidence suggests.

So now, as you’re browsing through the dummy section and feel a little embarrassed, always remember that with the right attitude, even you could become the next president.

Why it’s ok to end friendships

Dearest Reader,

Friends are the stuff of life. They’re the family you get to choose, and the people who are with you because they want to, not because they have to.

Maybe it’s because I live in a big city, maybe it’s the era of technology, or maybe it’s because we’re all getting older, but something is happening to friendships. Something bad. And I don’t like it.

I have always been a social person and enthusiastically befriended everyone I met. But as I get older, I am slowly losing my patience with certain types of people because time is too valuable to be wasted on shallow friendships.

The most irritating type of people are those whose friendships are guided by the fear of missing out on something better.

The eternal ‘pending’ or a ‘maybe’ responses to invitations. These are very strategic bastards. It allows them the freedom to either come, cancel or pick up something better at the last minute without feeling guilty because, after all, they never said they’d come. You too can be strategic, dearest reader, so take a pen and cross them off your list.

Second on the list is flakiness. Everyone knows a person who suggests plans, but when it comes to scheduling, they magically don’t respond and disappear into a cloud of silence. Or perhaps they agreed to meet you, but they don’t show up, without even making the effort of at least pretending to have diarrhoea.

The next thing on the list are people who use you. Perhaps you have a skill they need, you have a network they’d like to tap into or you are simply a generous and helpful person that they can count on. Such friendships tend to be transactional and one-sided, and your investment is clearly turning into a loss for you. Time to take your business elsewhere!

Finally, people you don’t really have anything in common with. We often mistake old high school friends or work colleagues as friends, and we later realise that all we truly had in common was bitching about work or memories from school. I had this realisation when I sat with former co-workers who ordered a pumpkin pizza to share and spoke about having casual sexual intercourse with a friend. As I am too proud to consume pumpkin on a pizza, and I don’t casually fornicate, me and my ethnic Catholic upbringing sat very quietly and hungrily.

Please rest assured, dearest reader, that the abovementioned people are not your friends, and it’s ok to say goodbye.

Once you’ve done all the friendship list chopping, what remains are the people I talked about – the kind that become your brothers and sisters.

 

Rules of Eating Out

Dearest Reader,

I used to be a big fan of eating out in restaurants for any occasion, with family, friends or on a date, and enjoy the experience.

However, as I slowly blossom into a real grown-up with limited patience for social etiquette that gets in the way of my happiness, I recently got tired of the rules. The rules of eating out.

If you are a guy, what you order on a date can really make or break this outing. For instance, if you order white wine, that really sends a message. If you order bottled beer, that’s also a strong message. If you order a salad with your white wine, you might as well order her another guy too.

The same applies with going out with your other male friends. You still can’t order white wine with salad, and potentially a dessert, unless you’re very secure in your masculinity.

But what if you really want white wine and a salad, and a pink raspberry panna cotta? Well, the only place you can really have that is at home. So might as well eat there.

If you’re a girl, you also can’t order freely on a date. If you had a busy day and you finally want to relax with a beer, you’ll come over as ‘too butch’. For the same reason, you can’t order a steak. Apparently, you also can’t order a pizza and eat all of it. After finishing mine, I was once told “Wow, I’ve never seen a girl eat a whole pizza before!!” and needless to say, that made me feel like a freak.

If you’re out with other girls, you need to pretend that you’re fine with tapas, with sharing ridiculously small amounts of overpriced food, because we lie to each other and judge each other harshly if we eat normal quantities.

So you go home and eat properly after dinner.

Regardless of your gender, there are many general taboos.

For instance, nachos are not considered proper food.

If you order garlic bread, people automatically think you ordered it to share it with them, even if you didn’t. If you order fries, you have to offer them some, and nobody stops at one fry.

If everyone orders a burger and you order the salmon steak, that’ll make you look too fancy. If everyone orders the salmon steak and you order the burger, it’ll make you look cheap and like you don’t have any idea what a healthy diet looks like.

If you’ve finished your alcoholic beverage faster than everyone else, you don’t get to order a new one until everyone else is ready, otherwise you’ll be considered an alcoholic. If nobody else wants a second round, you can’t show your disappointment but instead go home and drink alone, in the kitchen.

If everyone finishes their drink before you, they pressure you into drinking more quickly, and if you don’t want a second round, they’ll openly shout their disappointment at you.

As a result, I only choose to go out with those friends who know my dislike for small portions and sharing. On dates, I don’t try to be the salad-eating princess; if you can’t handle a woman with real appetite, you must not call me again. And in all other instances, I excuse myself from the social gathering and rather sit at home, eating and drinking whatever I want, at whatever speed I want.