I like being 30.
I find it so much more satisfying than being 29. Suddenly and inexplicably, I feel calm, settled and at home with myself, and it’s a nice feeling.
In my twenties I measured success by what I could have. I wanted to have lots of money, to live in a nice house, to drive nice cars, to never leave the house in anything less than Gucci. I thought I could do it all on my own. I was cold, focused, determined. And for a while, I did.
Then, someone changed that. That person decided to steal a car, decided to hit me head on, and decided to run away.
5 years on, I don’t have much money. I don’t have the house, or the car. I couldn’t drive it anyway. What I’m left with is a catalogue of injuries, a world of pain – but a better heart.
I can’t remember the amount of hospital visits I’ve had, or how many Doctors I’ve seen. It doesn’t matter. I’ve lost people I thought were friends, lost my job, even lost my mind sometimes. None of it matters. What I have now is so much more worthwhile, and brings so much more happiness.
I learnt how to really breathe. How to stop, and look around, and breathe in everything you see, smell, hear. On day’s I think the pain is unbearable, I think about how lucky I am that I can still walk, that it wasn’t worse. I appreciate the fact I’m still here at all. My short term memory is shocking due to the medication I take, so I write letters, take pictures, and treasure them.
I tell the people that matter that I love them.
I used to go out every night with party friends, spend fortunes on clothes and champagne and value myself and others on material things. I spent a year angry and resenting the world when I couldn’t have all that anymore. I was an arsehole, if we’re honest. Then I started to listen to other peoples stories, to read books and become inspired by people whose lives have been challenging and troubled yet who have the most amazing, positive outlooks. Now I understand that in reality, it was a blessing. I don’t need any of that. Real friends offer me lifts to the hospital, drink cups of tea and talk and watch movies with me on the sofa. They value my opinion and care about who I am not what I have. We go for lunch with their children, relax in the park and laugh…we’re always laughing. People who love me will come on slow walks down the river with the puppy, tell me I look good in flat shoes when they know how much I miss my heels, window shop with me while I lust over things I don’t need, and will never complain when I leave early because something hurts.
I still enjoy the occasional party. I still like nice things and keep one foot in the London club scene, that hasn’t changed. It’s my attitude that is so much different, my value system. It doesn’t need to be designers and launch parties now – thrift shops and locals are just as much fun.
I’ve lived a messy yet charmed life. Have been lucky and unlucky in equal measures. Know what it’s like to be truly alone, and also truly loved.
It’s taken me 30 years to understand I can’t change what happens, but I can change the way I deal with it. The world isn’t out to get me, and life can be beautiful.
Be grateful. Remember that worse things happen to better people. And smile. Good things are always there, if you know where to look.