Fun fact for you all: I turn twenty-nine next year. LOL BUT OK SURE.
I fancied reflecting on the old Hannah for a bit, the version of myself from a few years back. The version of myself without a baby growing in my belly or without a saving-for-a-mortgage ISA or all those other lovely gems that have come with my late twenties.
So here are the seven things I’m super glad I did in my early twenties…
1. MOVING TO LONDON
I moved to London when I was 23, having finally grown exhausted of my four-hour round commute to my job (I mostly just napped, in case you were wondering, unless it was a Friday and then I’d drink cider like the bad boy lad I am).
I only ended up staying there for 18 months before I moved to Ipswich, but it’s an 18-month period of my life that I am so, so glad existed. I drank too much, stayed out too late, cried a lot, was constantly broke and did stupid shit, but I also met so many incredible people and made a real dent in my career, and without that, I doubt I’d be where I am now.
One of my favorite feelings was always walking across one of the bridges on the Thames after a few too many drinks, looking at all the glittering lights of the city and thinking FUCK, HOW IS THIS MY LIFE NOW? HOW AM I AN INDEPENDENT GROWN-UP? HOW HAVE I MADE IT HERE?
2. SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS
As part of the research for this post, I spent a good hour scrolling back on Facebook to find out what 2012 Hannah was getting up to. And aside from getting drunk and working like a little trooper I seemed to spend a hell of a lot of time watching documentaries with my pals, wearing a onesie and doing puzzles. Hashtag no regrets.
On one side of things, it has made it harder to go from one extreme (seeing my friends every single darned day) to seeing them never (y’know, like once a month) but I am so glad I made the most of living close to my friends whilst I could.
You always forget that one day life will pull you all in different directions and you won’t have access to your support network in the same way.
3. GETTING IN DEBT
Lol. I mean, OK, not so much getting in debt, but staying in debt. I graduated not just with all the classic student debts, but with a couple of very hefty overdrafts. So hefty in fact, that I only finally completely paid them off in 2016.
I didn’t attempt to pay them off for years because they seemed so daunting and overwhelming and I tried my hardest to ignore them (v mature and grown-up of me). But anyway, the reason I’m glad I didn’t dedicate my life to paying those badgers off as soon as I left uni was because I put what little money I had towards living. A little bit reckless and irresponsible? Maybe. But I got there eventually, without sacrificing any experiences whilst in, ahem, the prime of my life.
4. TAKING TOO MANY PHOTOS
It’s a bit embarrassing just how many blurry photos of me drinking VKs with a sweaty face and yellow teeth there are on Facebook, but whatcha gonna do?
If it wasn’t for the fact we were the first generation to get camera phones, and then become obsessed with camera phones, I wouldn’t have as many reminders of the great times that I do. But more than that, I wouldn’t have relatively recent photos of me with my grandparents (even if they are dark selfies where I’ve clearly had too much Christmas wine). And for that, I am eternally grateful to be part of generation selfie.
5. LIVING IN A HOUSE SHARE
I’ve lived in a few house shares in my life. Some were aces and some were so hideous that I would cry myself to sleep. I once moved into a place where I was told my boyfriend could only visit once a week, like sure OK hun, you’re a knob. (The woman who told me that wasn’t even the land lady so like um what plz?).
Living in a house share taught me several things (mostly that you should just crack on with the washing up as soon as you’ve eaten to save aggro), but it also taught me how to be a more considerate person. Because sometimes – and I say this with love – sometimes, it’s not all about you.
6. LIVING ALONE
I had a full year of living in my little studio flat in Leytonstone with my cat and I AM SO GLAD I DID IT. For one, it helped me get over my weird, irrational fear of burglars and meant that I learned to sleep alone without the TV and a lamp on, which was nice.
But it also meant I had a full year of living completely and unapologetically selfishly. I cleaned when I wanted to clean, I left things where I wanted to leave them, I watched what I wanted to watch. I got to sit back and relax in a space that was all mine, rather than attempting to please other people.
I was also forced to come to terms with being OK with my own company, something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. Learning how to be alone was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.
How did I afford it? I dunno. My rent came in at £715 a month, and I think my flat was just a lucky find because it was pretty spacious and had a garden and high ceilings and massive wardrobes and an original fireplace and BRB just moving back now.
7. ONLINE DATING
Oh hi. Obviously, shock horror, I had a dating past before I met Chris (no-one tell him, obvs).
I did all the usual things – I signed up to Plenty Of Fish and was harassed by 50-year-old men, I paid ACTUAL REAL LIFE MONEY to go on Match.Com and didn’t bother going on a single date, and I downloaded Tinder. Lol.
But most importantly, I put myself out there and enjoyed kissing a few frogs before finding my, ahem, prince charming.