On being 27

It’s my 28th birthday this month. 28 has always been my “scary age”; when you’re definitely a bit too far into my late-twenties to be thought of as a young adult. In my mind, I’m supposed to have Got Stuff Sorted and Have A Plan and at least Vaguely Know What I’m Doing.

But this post isn’t about being 28. I don’t know anything about being 28 (yet). I do, however, have nearly a year’s experience of being 27.

Overall: I liked 27. It’s a good age; I don’t want it to go. It feels close enough to 25 for my liking and far away enough from 30. And whilst I still don’t Have A Plan, 27 installed a certain amount of adult Can-Do that you probably didn’t have at 25. 27 has been the year that I:

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Found a home. Okay, I’m still renting, but I’ve moved around so freakin’ often in Brighton that it’s easier to count the areas of town I haven’t lived now than those I have. In October last year, we fell in love with a probably-too-big-for-us three (!) bedroom half-house in Kemptown. On moving in day, I re-examined its beautiful old mosaic tiles in the kitchen, stared out at the roof terrace, lost count of the number of cupboards and neat touches all around the place and decided never to leave, so long as I live in this city. A year later, I’m still amazed by how quiet it is and what a friendly community Kemptown has. I absolutely love coming home now; the place needs near-constant work but it’s worth every second.

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Tiles in the kitchen of our Kemptown home

Struggled with the MA, but became somewhat okay with doing so. I’m going to get it done, no doubts; it might just take a little longer than  anticipated. This year I learnt that you can’t be a perfectionist about studying and expect to maintain a decent social life whilst working full time, and seeing as the former are my main two priorities whilst working then that’s the way it’s got to be. I have periods of mass activity,  then a  week or two of mass apathy. For me, trying my hardest at the work I’m doing takes priority over the time it takes to get it done.

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Image credit: pagets.tumblr.com

Got addicted to The West Wing. And then bored everyone senseless about it. I’d be sorry, but you really need to watch every single season of it right now. You’ll learn so much about American politics, fall in love with Josh and watch so many episodes where your heart races because the writing is so good. I never thought there’d be a show that would become a bigger obsession than Dawson’s Creek (…); I was wrong.

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The brighter the running shoes, the greater the benefits of exercise…right?

Grudgingly acknowledged the benefits of exercise. I joined a gym over the summer; it’s just under a mile away, so I can jog there along the seafront. I don’t go as often as I’d like, but it helps so much. I like the physical (rather than mental) exhaustion it creates, the challenge of focusing on physical activity only for long periods of time. Plus, running in small bursts feels like flying!

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Discovered how much fun make-up can be. I was lucky enough to model in two fashion shows this year for my favourite clothing shop in Oxford, Fresh; this, combined with attending a big wedding and reading Sali Hughes’ brilliant book Pretty Honest made me pay attention to makeup in a way I haven’t bothered with for a while. Having super pale white skin left me frustrated and apathetic towards foundation for years as high-street brands tend to ignore you if you’re paler than a white sheet; however, a quick visit to Brighton’s MAC store fixed all that. I now have makeup that matches my skin, and I’ve become a bit addicted to wearing red lipstick on, well, any occasion since someone advised that “since you’re pale, you can basically wear whatever lipstick you like”. It boosts my confidence, and just feels awesome.

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Tried to give up baking for the MA and failed miserably. Everyone’s got their way to relax, right? Yours is probably more conventional but for me, nothing beats drinking excessive amounts of herbal tea whilst baking something new and blaring out terrible 90s music. When I was swamped with MA deadlines in February, I tried to stop baking and just got even more stressed out. Creating food for others and learning new recipes is just a big part of my identity and it’s not going away.

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Began to learn how to say no. You probably spent most of your early twenties in the doing-everything trap too, right? The world has so much to offer, it’s really hard to go “nope this isn’t my thing”. 27 is the age I finally got a bit more comfortable with my own boundaries. It’s good to be tested sometimes, but loud pubs, massive groups of people, drinking a lot…none of those work for me. I also need time at home now, to recharge and check in with my mental health. I prefer smaller groups, board games over drinking games, longer catch-ups. This has, in turn, led to a lot more happy memories and less awkward-sitting-in-the-pub-in-silence; 27 is the year that, despite setting these boundaries, my friendship group actually expanded rapidly and I’m forever grateful for that.

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I’m excited to see what 28 brings! Do you mark your birthdays in any way? What feels different about your life this year?

On Paris

I originally posted this on Facebook, but it had such a friendly response I thought it should probably live on the blog too…

Cheryl Strayed quote

It’s really difficult to know what to feel or think after the events in Paris on Friday ; the first time I visited Paris (with two of my best friends) in 2005, we stayed in the 11th arrondissement very near where the attacks took place. It’s a beautiful area, peaceful and multicultural (well, so far as mostly-white central Paris can be), tree lined streets contrasting with the stone buildings. Paris is a city of contrasts, but for anyone who’s British it often feels like the first ‘properly foreign’ city you’ll visit, even though it’s only about two hours away from the UK. It’s pretty much impossible not to fall in love with some aspect of it; the musical tones of the metro, the architecture, Shakespeare and Company .

Canal St-Martin, Paris
Canal St-Martin, Paris

I keep returning to this quote from Cheryl Strayed: “love with a mindfully clear sense of purpose, even when it feels outrageous to do so.” And when I keep Paris in my thoughts, I hope we can all have the bravery to love in this manner; to be strong enough to push aside our desires to hate, to be scared, to close our physical and metaphorical borders, and look at how we want the world to be instead. They want us to be scared, they want us divided. We’ve got to be better, smarter and stronger than that. And we’ve got to love harder than that. (Even when it’s really not easy to do so.) Whilst remembering the victims, I also want to remember how, this weekend, social media came together to help Parisians needing a place of refuge, and how this morning people were queuing up to donate blood in French hospitals. Those acts of compassion and solidarity are how we’ve got to get through these dark times, not by closing the drawbridges and pointing fingers.


It’s easy to say this; I know very little about UK foreign policy, even less about France’s. I am not in a position to actively change things in any way; few of us are. But I’m going to try harder than ever to triumph love, compassion and understanding over hatred and fear, even when the world feels like a really scary place. I’m going to try to be braver. For Paris, for Beirut, for everyone who’s suffered as a result of terrorism. It’s not easy. But they don’t want us to love. So, love and compassion and tolerance have to win. There is so much brilliance and life in our society; let’s celebrate that rather than giving into fear and letting them change our society into one of intolerance and prejudice. ❤

B and Me, Disneyland Paris, 2007
B and Me, Disneyland Paris, 2007