I was catching up with my talented friend, Alex this morning when she mentioned watching the 90’s rom-com classic, ‘Never Been Kissed’ and its resemblance to our high-school experience. Just like Drew, I didn’t exactly win any popularity contests as a teenager, and resided at the bottom of the food chain throughout my years in education.
Every day I’d wake up, complete my work and talk to as little people as possible along the way. Despite never being the most intelligent member of the class, my shy and insecure personality meant I often faced a barrage of name-calling. Spiff, geek, and loser: you name it, I heard it. Never the most colourful set of insults, but they still get points for trying.
Admittedly, I also used to tarnish everyone that dared insinuate I was a loser with the same brush: air-heads who have nothing better to do with their time than insult me. I silently planned my revenge rather than postulating my theory out loud, but I’m just as guilty for pre-judging based on assumption as those who bullied me.
The quiet, insecure teenager that used to dread social interaction still remains, but with age comes confidence and the ability to care less what people think. Cultural stereotypes will always exist in a society obsessed with image, but if Hermione Granger can successfully make geek chic, so can I.
The biggest daily struggle I have is with my conscience. From the moment I wake up in the morning, I critique every move I make: from forgetting to buy milk at the supermarket, to spending the evening watching ‘Made in Chelsea’ with a glass of wine instead of hitting the gym. No matter how big or small, I so easily find flaws in my actions and quite often lay awake at night wishing I’d been more polite to the lady that accidentally knocked over my coffee in Starbucks.
Recently I read a fantastic article by Zosia Mamet in Glamour, which beautifully summarises everything I’ve been feeling, and has made me realise that I’m not alone. The following passage in particular really struck a chord with me:
“As women we have internalized the idea that every morning we wake up, we have to go for the f–king gold. You can’t just jog; you have to run a triathlon. Having a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and heading to work isn’t enough—that’s settling, that’s giving in, that’s letting them win. You have to wake up, have a cup of coffee, conquer France, bake a perfect cake, take a boxing class, and figure out how you are going to get that corner office or become district supervisor, while also looking damn sexy—but not too sexy, because cleavage is degrading—all before lunchtime”
Not every woman can be Emma Watson. I wish I were a multi-millionaire, actress, model and scholar with beauty to boot but unfortunately that isn’t my reality. On most days I wake up in the morning, go to work for 8 hours and by the time 5pm arrives I’m exhausted and can’t think of anything better than watching television in my pyjamas. I don’t always brush my hair in the mornings, sometimes I skip dinner in favour of peanut butter on toast and I have watched an entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in less than 48 hours. I might not be as successful or well dressed as I’d like, but at least I’m safe in the knowledge that Emma Watson is probably sat at home right now, wishing she’d remembered to buy milk at the supermarket too.
From a young age I’ve been a worrier: for months leading up to my first day at secondary school I would quiz my older friends about the prevalence of bullying and exactly how I should act in order to prevent it happening. I became so fixated on the idea of high school and how terrible an experience it was going to be that I tried to mentally prepare myself for every possible disaster that could occur on my first day, no matter how unrealistic my theories happened to be. I have to tell you, that’s a lot for a 10 year old to deal with.
14 years later and everyday tasks such introducing myself to people I don’t know or having to confront someone who has wronged me still fill me with the same dread I felt on the first day of high school. When I’m feeling anxious I can’t recognise the difference between rational and irrational worries, so I assume that every small issue will result in worldwide disaster, which manifests in the form of panic attacks.
Whilst it’s something I’d rather not have to deal with, what’s even worse is people who make assumptions about my issues with anxiety. Just today someone asked whether I’d tried to to “calm down” in situations where I feel anxious – I wish I’d thought of that! If only I’d grabbed a pina colada and chilled out with the latest issue of Marie Claire – all of my problems would be solved!
I understand that anxiety isn’t something you can see and perhaps it is all in my head, but pointing that out really doesn’t help. As it happens, instructing me to stop exaggerating and being so dramatic isn’t what I’d like to hear either. As my mother always tells me: if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
It’s a week before payday so naturally I’ve Googled ‘how to make easy money’ four times over the last couple of days. Unfortunately, as I scan my cupboards for anything other than paprika or pickled onions I’ve come to realise that my only hope is winning the lottery or selling my organs on the black market.
As I’m incredibly bitter and love nothing more than complaining about those who are better off than me, hearing that someone I know spent £67, 000 on wallpapering their house today was a crushing blow – I don’t even have £67 to last me the rest of this week. I can’t help but think that I’m going wrong somewhere if I struggle to justify spending more than a tenner on my weekly shop when certain people can splash so much cash on home décor.
It got me thinking about how I should spend my last £13 – the last supper. The money-conscious side of me would usually spend a couple of pounds on bread and the rest on wine, but perhaps I’ve been doing this all wrong. In a normal week I’ll usually purchase shampoo and deodorant, whereas Kim Kardashian has a 24/7 beauty squad to tend to her every need for a cool $250K. Perhaps I’ll spend the last of my cash on a cute top or half a pair of shoes – who needs food and running water when you have wallpaper and a fabulous butt?
When I was younger I always thought that by the time I was 24 I’d have my shit together and have become the perfect hybrid of Elle Woods and Florence Nightingale: a saint with a sassy attitude and a pink business suit to match. After all I left my mother’s womb when she was 24 and Emma Watson’s younger than me and she’s already achieved world domination. By the age of 24 it becomes much harder to convince people that you’re doing well just by quoting Oscar Wilde or claiming you do things for the ‘experience.’ By the age of 24 you’re an adult and there’s nothing you can do about it.
This weekend I turned 24, and as many of my friends regaled me with various tales of their success I realised that I haven’t achieved anything I set out to do as a teenager. Not only am I poor, single and a couple of pounds overweight but I still haven’t received any tweets from Anna Kendrick or Taylor Swift which makes my dream of us becoming the new Destiny’s Child seem even further away.
In an attempt to be more Emma Stone meets Jennifer Lawrence and less Stig of the Dump chic I’ve decided to make a few adjustments to my life such as reading ‘The Times’ and watching documentaries about saving the penguins. Combine that with switching from white to red wine and I’m basically the modern day Audrey Hepburn. As long I seem like I’ve got it together surely there’s no harm in spending my alone time watching reruns of Cupcake Wars and eating an entire bag of Doritos?