What effect do birthdays have on our behaviour?

A chic, sophisticated princess-to-be prances around the Upper East Side of Manhattan, arms laden with bags, glittering boulder weighing down her left hand. Yes Blair Waldorf may be fictional twenty year old but she has accomplished enough during her on screen life to write a best-selling biography. Of course I know Gossip Girl is about as real as Nicki Minaj’s derrière (yes, I’m jealous), yet this cannot help but trigger a sense of dissatisfaction as I mull over my life experiences. Forget a full blown biography; there wouldn’t be enough to fill two sides of a napkin.  

…I am no longer able to blame childish naivety for my thoughtless actions…

There is good reason for all these random musings. Today is my birthday. I turned the big 20. It’s terribly sad, I’m in mourning. At a recent catch-up with friends, the topic of choice was my birthday celebrations. As a twin, I only get a 50% say in how the day is spent, but for once, we both found this year’s rapidly approaching, inescapable fate of aging that as mortals we are doomed to, impacting more than just our life span (20 is halfway to 40 after all). It may not be a huge occasion but I am no longer a teenager. I am no longer able to blame childish naivety for my thoughtless actions; neither can I use the phrase, “when I grow up,” with veritable conviction. For one, I actually am a grown up, and furthermore, I am expected by society and the many entrepreneurial, motivated, young something-teens in the world, to be doing something with my life.

Perhaps it’s a psychological repercussion of my twentieth, but I seem unable to stay up till the early hours of the morning. Regardless of whether it to be study or consume copious amounts of alcohol all in the name of prancing around scantily clad in an overly loud basement somewhere in central London, I wake up the next day grumpy over my lack of sleep and ready to pounce on anyone who denies me sympathy. Let’s face the facts: yesterday evening was spent having a girly chinwag at the local Wetherspoons where I ordered a glass of warm water for my sore throat. At 7pm I was tucked up on the sofa huddled under a multi coloured, polka dotted blanket. In one hand was a mug of hot Ribena, with the other I typed away at my laptop, whose screen is surrounded by yellow car shaped post-it notes. My feet were clad with my favourite slippers, complete with pink pom poms and Home Alone 3 was on in the background. It was an ambiguous sight. Middle aged biddy or 7 year old girl?

…I liken her departure to getting a hole in my favourite sweater…

Okay so turning twenty is not the end of the world. In hindsight I’ve had an incredible year. It all comes down to how you measure your achievements, what you prioritise and what you value. Like most people, my friends are an integral part. They’re woven into the fabric of my life like the wool of a jumper. One of my closest friends is leaving to study in Malaysia in January. Drama queen-esque, I liken her departure to getting a hole in my favourite sweater, taking with her our childish habits and leaving me cold and discontent. Friends are just one aspect.

Now, with every birthday, I become more and more determined to make each year unforgettable, to be able to celebrate the memories I’ve accumulated. I did not wake up sobbing with depression as I turned twenty like my melodramatic friend (or twen-teen as it’s been named by my sister), but as I get older I become more pensive, more determined to make something of myself, to have moments I can be proud of. I’m no closer to knowing what I want out of life, but I do know that I aim to enjoy every second. Another year gained is just another year lived, and there’s all the more to celebrate. All this said, tonight after a grown-up meal with my parents, you will find me sporting a tiny outfit in a club somewhere in London, inebriated or on the way to it, shaking it like a polaroid picture.

Image courtesy of Melissa Landon and Greg Cooper

 

About The Author

Modern languages student at UCL with an interest in art, journalism, food and a desire to travel the world.

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