It’s OK if your 20s haven’t gone to plan
kid

So young. So full of hope.

Being 26 is a curious thing. And by curious, I mean bewildering, soul-destroying and occasionally absolutely terrifying. It’s a ‘nothing’ age. You’re neither young nor old. You’re like an awkward fringe you can’t quite grow out.

When I was younger, I thought that people in their twenties were adults, they had their shit together, they were O-L-D. But now I realise that they weren’t old at all. They were like me. A child trapped in an adult’s body, squeaking desperately for someone to come and rescue them.

Over time, I have learnt that life isn’t like one of those Goosebumps books where you can sneakily flick to the alternative endings and pick the one where you don’t get eaten by a mutant sponge. It’s scary and unpredictable, and you just have to roll with it.

So here is a list of 7 things I thought I would have going for me in my mid-20s that I seriously, seriously don’t:

1.I thought I would be married with at least one kid by now.

I used to think that people who were still single in their late twenties had some kind of icky, gross malady that prevented suitors from wanting to put a ring on it. But sometimes relationships just don’t pan out the way you hope they will. And sometimes it’s for the best. Plus I am definitely not ready for offspring. I had to hold a baby at a wedding last month and I hated every second of it.  Between trying to look maternal, all I could think was ‘why won’t it blink?’ and ‘why does it not cry when people pick it up by its armpits when I cry if I catch my bingo wing on a door frame?’

2. I thought I would be a sex goddess by now.

I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. It’s like trying to assemble an IKEA wardrobe. WHERE DOES THIS BIT GO? WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS WEIRD LITTLE LEFTOVER THING?! My predicament is not helped by frantically reading bizarre sex tips in women’s magazines. Instead, I am left with further performance anxiety after discovering that I can’t quite pull off rubbing cocoa beans over my lover’s scrotum while in the Grab Your Coat You’ve Pulled a Cheeky Flamenco position.

3. I thought I would understand bills and general life crap by now.

I do not understand bills and general life crap.

4. I thought I would be a stunnah by now.

The one thing I clung to when I was a teenager and my hair was greasy and I had no boobs and developed a moustache was that one day I would be peng. One day, puberty would wave her magic wand, release me from this sarcophagus of 4-out-of-10-ness and rebirth me as a beautiful butterfly. But if anything, I am grosser now than ever. I have fat in places I didn’t even know you could have fat. I am spottier. I am hairier. I am scalier. I am basically turning into an armadillo.

5. I thought I would be on the property ladder by now. 

One of the many perks of being a journalist is that I earn way below the average graduate salary. Like if the graduate salary was a bus, I would be running after it panting. If the graduate salary was Leonardo DiCaprio, I would be being restrained by a security guard after trying to stroke its face. If the graduate salary was a Snitch, I would be chasing it on a mop. So unless I immediately marry a Russian oil tycoon, I shan’t be owning my own house anytime soon.

6. I thought I would stop getting ID’d by now.

When I got the A Level results I needed to get into university but couldn’t celebrate with my two friends at Ko-Ko’s in Rochdale town centre because I didn’t have ID and had the face of a Cabbage Patch Kid, I was fuming. “You will pay for this,” I vowed, as thunderstorms cracked in the midnight sky. I considered writing to Parliament. I considered a dirty protest. I considered launching my own charity to help other victims. But now, it’s the opposite. As I inch closer to 30, looking young is a compliment. In fact, I am offended if people don’t ID me. “Wait, don’t you want to verify my age?” I want to cry indignantly. “Don’t you think I’m too young-looking to be purchasing this alcoholic beverage?” I reach into my bag. “I have ID. Check my ID. Please,” I beg, before slamming my driving licence, passport, birth certificate and 22-week ultrasound scan onto the counter.

7. I thought I would have outgrown my ‘awkward phase’ by now.

Chink chink. The sound of glass tinkling, a champagne cork popping. Laughter. Schmoozing. Another glamorous cocktail party organised by yours truly. So, this one didn’t pan out. Mainly because I don’t live in the 1980s, but also because I am still super awkward.

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It was the year 2023 and the Labour government had released its target that 86% of all school-leavers should be beauty bloggers.

It was Armageddon. The UK had gone completely tits-up. B&Q had run out of white paint, scientists had been forced to cultivate giant mutant avocados to keep up with demand and teens across the country were in counselling.

“I’m just not chirpy and kitsch enough,” they sobbed breathlessly. “I can’t take close-ups of my Benefit cheek palette because I have a moustache, I don’t know my foundation from my arsehole and I have to live in a hazmat suit to keep my room spotless enough to take artistically arranged snaps of my #MAChaul. I can’t go on like this. I just can’t.”

But it was the law. And so engineers, teachers and doctors had been phased out in favour of people who could take 236 selfies per day and use gross words like ‘adorbs’ and ‘totes’.

The population now stood at 1.7 million. Six million people had died of food poisoning after taking 28 minutes to upload pictures of their quinoa salad. It was a pandemic, it was cruel and it was the law.

“It is the law,” said Jeremy Corbyn during PMQs. “The UK will become a world leader in beauty blogging.” He clambered onto his bench, gyrating his hips slightly. “We will not surrender to Tory ideals of literacy and numeracy. Nor will we accept that people should do something better with their lives than make gormless pouty fish faces and then edit the shit out of their pictures. Hashtag effyourbeautystandards.”

As the population dwindled and the English language waned to just nine words – eyebrows, bae, fleek, on, MAC, strobe, NYX, Benefit and haul – the UK ground to a halt.

Eventually there was just one beauty blogger left. Her Instagram handle was @unicornrainbowglitterprincessveganmarilynmonroewasasize16primarkhaul and she was 19 Illamasqua Skin Bases old.

As she lay weak in the beauty section of House of Fraser, her pot of Anastasia Dipbrow Promade fell from her hands and rolled into the distance. With her last dying breaths, she typed a caption for her Instagram selfie.

Eyebrows. On. Fleek.  

*

Two centuries later, her crusty old remains were discovered and displayed in the Natural History Museum. They can still be viewed today for £8, or £6 if you order through Groupon.

THE END

*Please note some of this is not historically accurate.

 

10 realities of buying makeup

I have enough makeup to host a West End production of Les Misérables. Expensive stuff, cheap stuff, stuff I got free in a magazine, stuff so old it should probably be carbon dated and displayed in the Natural History Museum. Do I understand what to do with any of it? Absolutely not. But I enjoy buying it, carefully organising it into categories and then admiring it as it sits there untouched, virginal, for months on end because I barely have time to put my knickers on before fleeing to work in the morning, let alone strobe, bake and highlight my face.

That being said, buying makeup can be an emotionally draining affair. Thus I have compiled a list of ten harsh realities of a cosmetics spree:

1) Shop assistants who sneer at you in disgust because you don’t know how to contour your eyelashes.

2) The fact that I don’t know how to contour my eyelashes.

3) The inescapable feeling that you don’t belong and are being judged for your shit eyeliner as you peruse the Bobbi Brown section at House of Fraser. Collection 2000 always had your back.

4) Losing the will to live whilst trying to fathom the difference between inexplicably titled foundation shades like ‘Iridescent Porcelain VII’, ‘Boom Boom White Girl’ and ‘Unicorn Smile’, knowing full well they will all just be ‘Orange’ once you go outside in the sun.

5) Going mental like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and cramming your basket full of goodies you neither want nor need because they’re on the 3-for-2 offer at Boots and therefore essentially free. MOLE PRIMER? HOW HAVE I LIVED WITHOUT THIS?! RED MASCARA? COME AT ME, BRO! Then getting to the till and having to pay £867 because you are too ashamed to put stuff back.

6) Watching people apply lipstick testers to their ACTUAL LIPS and not being able to slap it out of their hands and tell them how disgusting they are without being arrested.

7) When makeup has makeup on the outside of the makeup.

8) Being concerned that you can’t justify paying £53 for an eyeshadow palette in weird dead people colours because some beauty guru you stalk on Instagram says it’s super-wicked and now everyone has one and it comes up on your Facebook feed as a suggested post and you don’t understand how Facebook knows and you can’t escape the palette it’s everywhere the palette will never leave the palette is haunting you the palette is now on your face.

9) Being torn between not actually wanting a third item for the 3-for-2 offer at Boots and knowing the third item is free and wanting your money’s worth, and therefore panic-choosing something and being bitterly disappointed with your decision for the rest of your natural life. Damn you, Revlon bronzer circa 2003.

10) Purposely buying something that looks absolutely sensational on friends/bloggers/random strangers in the post office and thinking you’ve found the magical elixir that will bring all the boys to the yard but it just looks like a bag of crap when you apply it to your own face.