I have always been a birthday princess. I am one who defies the idea of a simple ‘day’ and instead sees their birthday spanning the course of a week. Usually, there will be cocktails and coffee with certain friends while fancy dinners and cuppas will be planned with others. Birthday cakes, presents, dancing and probably being sick are all key components of a good birthday. Well, in my eyes anyway.
This year, due to the doddery movements of our UK government, I officially spent my 24th birthday in lockdown. While I may have had to hold off on my usual eccentric activities, there was pizza, too much prosecco, and a hefty slice of Scooby-Doo. It may have been tamer than usual, but it was just as sweet.
So – the big twenty-four. As another year older, wiser, less messy, more beautiful, and excruciatingly modest, here is a bundle of things I have learned since I last celebrated my birthday.
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ONE – It is okay to eat nice things.
Not every meal has to be dairy-free, meat-free, carb-free, calorie-free, taste-free, etc. It is okay to munch on last night’s left-over goat’s cheese pizza for breakfast chase it with cake for lunch and gobble fried chicken and chips for tea. And, it’s okay to eat the following: creamy carbonara, crisps, chocolate, super noodle sandwiches, food cooked in butter, a big teaspoon of soy sauce, and all the other things the magazines, the websites, and the fitness influencers forced me to banish. It has always been okay to eat, It will always be okay to eat.
TWO – Living with a boyfriend who is as messy as you is a recipe for total household chaos.
Are the dishes done? No. Has the washing been taken out of the machine? No. Have you tidied up the bedroom? No. Do we love it? Yes.
THREE – Journaling is just the grown-up term for ‘writing in your diary’.
Originally, I genuinely believed that what the Goop cultists and wellness gurus were raving and writing about in glittery notebooks wasn’t marketed at little old me. ‘Daily affirmation guides’, ‘gratitude journals’, and even ‘bullet journals’ however, literally just disguise for what they really are. People open your eyes: they are the same diaries you have kept all your life.
Some (me) use their diaries to slag people off. Others (I am told) write three things they are grateful for every morning and that is their form of ‘self-care’ done for the day. Whatever the weather, ‘journaling’ is just a fancy wellness term for writing in your diary. You see that mom? I am in the club! Now, who do I hate enough to write about today?
FOUR – Speaking of diary-ing, I fell in love with it again this year.
Previously, I would only exclusively write in my diary if I was distraught. However, in 2020 I have learned to write about good things too. The everyday catastrophes and the bubbling moments of happiness are in there too. My little leather-bound notebook, which lies torn and tarnished on my bedside table, has become a haven. I can draw in it. I can write poetry in it. I can write anything void of standards and prying eyes. It is true adoration I feel for my diary, and true adoration only.
FIVE – Audiobooks on 1.5x speed is where it is that.
It is so blink-and-you-miss-it fast that you are forced to concentrate. It is an almost challenge of some sorts, forcing you to keep up. Fast Audiobooks are paired perfectly with wireless headphones and a mug of coffee made with 2 teaspoons of Coffee-Mate and a single sugar.
SIX – Bacon and cream cheese in a bagel is a winning combination.
It shouldn’t work; but it does and my god, is it bloody brilliant! Add lashings of butter, and Heinz tomato sauce for the ultimate feel-good brunch.
SEVEN – The ‘Dickhead Drink Snob’ ranking goes like this:
1 – Coffee snobs
2 – Wine snobs
3 – Beer snobs
4 – “Are you really going to have that much milk in your tea?” snobs
EIGHT – Reading on your Kindle / E-reader is easier and somewhat better than via a physical copy.
Yes, I said it. Commit this English Literature graduate to hell. I feel like I have betrayed the Bloomsbury Set, the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, and more. But hear me out. You can read in the bath without dipping pages in bubbles as well as carry hundreds of books around without the clunky heaviness. Did I mention digital books are also cheaper than chips (if it is M&S chips you are purchasing that is)?
Some of the best books I have read this year have been on my Kindle, and I definitely would not have finished Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel if I had had it in a physical copy. All hail the Kindle; you have truly saved 23.
NINE – Bottomless brunch is a competition with other tables in “who can be the loudest and rudest to the waitress so we can get more Prosecco”.
TEN – Friendship is like a flower.
When watered and nourished, it blooms and stands bright. If you neglect or over-feed, the flower will wilt and die over time. The flower is as pretty or as ugly as you choose it to be. Just remember to snap off its head if the time comes.
ELEVEN – Scooby-Doo: The Movie is my go-to film for celebrations.
Birthdays? Scooby-Doo. Anniversary dinner and lots of drinks? Chase it with Scooby-Doo. Got a new job? Let’s celebrate with Scooby-Doo. Honestly, Scooby-Doo is just the hit of serotonin I need to get by.
TWELVE – The ultimate Chinese takeaway order is as follows:
- Crispy chili chicken with no vegetables (will substitute for beef if a gun is held to my head)
- Prawn toast X 2 portions
- Crab claws
- Deep-fried chicken balls
- Garlic mushrooms
- Chips + curry sauce
THIRTEEN – It is okay to buy yourself the nice things that you want.
For so long, I went for the ‘cheaper opinion’, the ‘less-calorific option’ or the ‘smaller option’. I would convince myself I didn’t want it or didn’t need it just so I could have a little more money in the bank.
No! It is totally okay to buy yourself the things you want and the things you need! I wanted a new dress for my birthday. It is a thing I wanted, a thing I could buy, and a thing I had the money for. And, more importantly, I deserved it for being me. You should not be guilty of your purchases!
FOURTEEN – The drink.
Rude Health Hazelnut milk + Monin Hazelnut syrup + hot chocolate powder = steaming hot Nutella in a mug. Trust me.
FIFTEEN – Know when it is time to call-quits on your Dr. Martens.
I have had a solid pair of comfortable favourites since I was seventeen. Seven years later and the insole has been ripped out, the rubber sole has jagged cracks and the fronts are old and worn. I love you babies, but it was time for a new pair two years ago.
SIXTEEN – The day has to start with writing or exercise.
Otherwise, nothing productive is getting done at all. It is a curse.
SEVENTEEN – Writer’s block is real.
Sometimes I will try to write and the words just don’t come up and out of my mouth like they usually do. It can be incredibly frustrating but I rest well in the knowledge that the ‘urge’ always comes back. It may take a few days or even a few months. I have been riding this writer’s block since the middle of September. I am hoping and praying that this lifts soon.
EIGHTEEN – Seeing old school friends succeed is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
I recently watched Alistair Farley (@alifarleyfineart) – a boy who I had previously gone to school with for seven years – compete on Portrait Artist Of The Year via Sky Arts and it was amazing. I felt so proud and privileged to have known him. Facebook stalking my successful school friends is one of my favourite things to do. I simply love seeing people do well!
NINETEEN – The outfit.
P/Leather Jacket. Black polo neck long-sleeved top/jumper. Topshop light-blue bleached denim skirt. Leopard print fishnet tights. Dr. Martens Chelsea Boots.
TWENTY – Avocado is overrated.
Yes, I KNOW I was avocado’s biggest advocate until summer 2020 but people change, okay? I’m just not into him anymore. The sheer amount of avocados I have thrown away this year is honestly disgusting. I am giving him up for good this time. God, get off of my back about it Tiffany. It is over.
TWENTY-ONE– The alternative Oat Milk scale goes as follows:
- Rude Health Oat Milk
- MOMA Oat Milk
- Minor Figures Oat Milk
- Jörd Oat & Hemp Milk
- Provamel Oat Milk
- Everything Else, ever
TWENTY-TWO – Some of the best books you shall ever read come from genres you once banished.
After bashing out all of George R. R. Martin’s The Song of Ice and Fire series from 2014 – 2017, I thought I had truly hung my hat up on fantasy, forever. My tolerance for dragons, politics, and world-building was diminished. However, with Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle brightening up my life, it seems as if the fantasy genre is back on the map. Oh, how I have missed you. You should see my To Be Read list – it is now SWARMED with dragons.
TWENTY-THREE – Being stubborn is not always a bad trait.
Sometimes, it can protect you from others. Occasionally, it can save you from situations arising in which your nature could be taken advantage of. Being the stubborn bitch can sometimes have its perks and I will always be true to myself.
TWENTY-FOUR – The mantra.
Happiness and time > well-paid job.