It’s birthday time for me 🎂 and this year I’m turning 31. It’s not Big News like turning 30 was – there’s no ’31 things to do before you turn 31′ lists to read. (I assume because people think the only thing you really need to do by this point is recover from turning 30).
Nope, it’s just a middle of the road, hardly worth mentioning sort of age, and I’m fine with that. It’s nice to go under the radar for a little while.
But just because 31 isn’t considered to be a particularly remarkable milestone, it doesn’t mean I have nothing to say. Regular readers will know that it’s become something of a tradition for me to write a list as long as my age to mark my birthday – a decision I imagine I will regret enormously by the time I turn 75.
When I turned 29 and 30 I jotted down a series of things I had learnt. So this year – in the interests of keeping things fresh – I’ve opted for a list of things that continue to surprise me about living in the world. Because the older you get, the longer that list becomes.
1. That there are people who do not like Jaffa Cakes.
2. That after almost 11 years together, the text message I’ve sent my husband which has provoked the most positive response to date said: I’ve managed to fix our WiFi.
3. That the lyric ‘My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone’ was all it would take for me to like Justin Bieber.
4. That, rather than a hilarious joke, ‘This train is delayed due to a lack of driver to drive it’ is a commonly used excuse for transport disruption.
5. That the amount of money you spend on a pair of shoes has absolutely nothing to do with how much they are likely to hurt your feet.
6. That the glare I gave the man on the train who said “I’m on my way to London Houston” didn’t turn him to stone.
7. That I once offered a friend one of my pick n mix sweets and they took the single, giant fondant filled liquorice lace I was clearly going to save till last. WHO DOES THAT
8. That it’s possible to select an outfit to wear at at 8am, and then realise you hate it more than anything you’ve ever seen in your life by 10.
9. That after two years as a glasses-wearer, I still fail to anticipate what will happen when I open the oven or dishwasher door whilst wearing them.
10. That eventually my life would be divided into two halves: Before I started enjoying gin, and after.
11. That there is nothing quite like the incredible sense of achievement one feels following the successful usage of drain unblocker.
12. That intense feeling of loss a woman feels when she looks in her make-up bag and discovers that her blusher has shattered into a million pink, dusty pieces.
13. That there is nothing more frightening than the prospect of hearing a recording of your own voice.
14. That there is so much happening in the world, and yet I still feel the need to correct people when they say ‘I’ when they should be saying ‘me’.
15. That I still get invited to parties.
16. That I ever thought simply wearing my sunglasses over the top of my glasses would fill the gap that only prescription sunglasses can. (And how unbelievably heavy that felt on my face).
17. That I get worryingly close at least once a week to sending an email that features the word ‘afterboob’ instead of ‘afternoon’.
18. That there would come a time when somebody saying they spent an afternoon reading a book – rather than looking at any kind of screen – would seem like the greatest demonstration of willpower the world has ever seen.
19. That my husband expects to receive the kind of praise one might reserve for a person who has just run the marathon for simply putting a wash on.
20. That nothing on this earth – not purchasing an appropriately ripe avocado, or figuring out what level of postage to put on a package, or attempting to cook one of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals in less than an hour – is more difficult than finding a Friday night on which all members of a female friendship group are free to have dinner together.
21. That the simple act of removing the Facebook app from my phone has done more for my mental health than any holiday ever could.
22. That one minute you swear you will never let a single crumb come near your precious new phone or laptop, and the next you’re tapping at the keys with peanut butter-covered fingers like there’s no tomorrow.
23. That expression friends make when they discover that you’re left-handed. Like they don’t really know you at all.
24. That however hard you think it is to make a human being love you, it’s a walk in the park compared to trying to befriend a cat.
25. That just because a hangover isn’t there when you wake up, it doesn’t mean it’s not coming for you in a few hours’ time.
26. That admitting that you suffer from anxiety is like mentioning that you own Adele’s album ’25’ – dude, everybody’s got that.
27. That I remain incapable of having a conversation with someone who is crying without also crying myself.
28. That some gluten free brands have the audacity to call the crumbly slices of disappointment they produce ‘bread’.
29. That I now live in a world where recognising people because you’ve seen photographs of them on the Internet is considered evidence that you have strong social awareness, and not that maybe a restraining order should be issued.
30. That for so many of us it’s not until we reach our fourth decade on earth that we start to realise what it is that we want to do with our lives.
31. And that if the speed of the last 31 years has taught me anything, it’s that we don’t have time to spend a single second doing anything else.