During a “quick chat” on the phone with my best friend that lasted two hours, we covered every topic imaginable. To what extent do our boyfriends accept our feminist values? On a scale of one to 10, how prepared would we be for parenthood if it were thrust upon us right now? When are we going to fit in all the travelling we want to do? Are we ever going to have the jobs we really want? Are we going to have anything we really want?
It was during this conversation that I said something aloud that I never had before. “You know, sometimes I think it would be easier to be stupid. Or, at least be someone with less self awareness. I could keep my retail job forever; have kids and holiday in Magaluf once a year. I wouldn’t have to think about anything.”
“I know what you mean,” she said solemnly.
I’m not saying I’m a genius, far from it in fact. The last time I checked, my IQ was around the same as George W Bush’s. I can take it as a compliment, as he managed to be president for two terms, but at the same time…it’s George W Bush. But my brain does seem to be ON all the time. The media have told me that one day soon, I won’t be able to hear anything over the sound of my own biological clock. But the only ticking I hear is of time in general. Every minute is closer to my death and the fact I’m not out winning Oscars, helping solve equations for the Hadron Collider or wearing the Tour de France’s yellow jersey.
I realise that these people are exceptional. For every Daniel Day-Lewis, there are a dozen guys playing car accident victims in every hospital drama, hoping for their big break. But the fact I am not doing anything remarkable forces me to accept that I am not remarkable. And that is a hard pill for a human being to swallow. Our egos want us to think we’re snowflakes, no two alike. In some ways that’s true, but we basically all want the same things. We’re not as superior as we like to think. There are few qualities that actually set us apart from the apes. One of those is the ability to measure the human invention that is time.
And if there’s one thing that social media loves to discuss, it’s the passing of time. It’s seven years since the last Harry Potter book was released, 10 years since Mean Girls and 16 years since The Offspring first sang “Pretty fly for a white guy”. Every morning, the Timehop app on my phone tells me what I was doing on this day up to four years ago.
The internet has made the world small. We can see what everyone else is doing, day or night. It’s amazing and I follow others’ adventures on social media with pleasure. The internet also allows me to compare myself to other people in a way that was only possible in one way before this: the high school reunion. Now every day is a high school reunion. Other people always seem to be having a more exciting time.
I’m trying to learn to be constructive with my jealousy. At the moment, I’m using it to feed my feeling of worthlessness. I studied journalism and moved to London but instead of writing for Elle magazine, as was the dream of my 14-year-old self, I work in retail for little money or satisfaction. On days off, I watch Scrubs on Netflix and berate myself for not spending my time writing and applying for jobs.
So this is my intervention…with myself… and you too, if you’ve been stuck in a rut as a result of mooning over other peoples’ instagram pictures. It’s time to take back control and stop feeling that life is passing me by. You don’t know it, but I actually stepped away there after that last sentence because I was distracted by YouTube videos. It has to end and the time is now.*
*Except with the new Mad Max film trailer. I won’t stop re-watching that for any reason.