It’s pretty common to wonder, ‘Woah, where did –insert month here– go!?’ at the end of the month, or the beginning of the new one. But I’ve noticed I’ve been thinking this every single month. The days tick along fairly ordinarily, they even drag sometimes (I’m looking at you, Wednesday) and obviously there aren’t less hours in the day or anything, so there’s no physical difference. Yet when I pause to look back, I’m now a lot more conscious of how time seems to have disappeared before my very eyes.
When we are children, we pine for the future when we are able to choose our bedtimes, have our own money, car, career, house, family. The list goes on. But there’s irony in desperately wanting time to fast forward, only to get there and long for the innocence of childhood. And sure, I get it. I love being an adult but there’s something to be said for the carelessness of childhood. A certain innocence most of us are keen to shred as quickly as possible at the time.
I think I’ve always struggled with the passing of time, without necessarily even realising it.
I take lots of photos because I want to freeze moments that make me feel something or that mean something to me, whether that’s our dog looking especially cute or a breathtaking view. I worry about not remembering specific details, so I capture it through photos, videos, a diary and my 1-second everyday app. Sure, I like to flick through old photos or read back past diary entries occasionally but it’s more the safety net they create for me. Warm and comforting like an old jumper that will be there, ready and waiting for me to crawl into when I desperately want to claw back my past. Admittedly, it’s not something that has happened yet and I’m unsure when or even if that will ever be the case.
I don’t think it helps that the older you get, the more other people like to remind you how fast time is going, setting deadlines for social conventions like marriage and babies. Recently someone told me I’d be having children soon after I got married. ‘It’s the perfect age to have a baby!’ they insisted.
This is a fairly ordinary (albeit frustrating) exchange but it’s not actually the being told what I should be doing that bugs me (Okay it’s not just that). It’s the fact that I’m weirdly still always surprised that I’m old enough for these questions to be asked. The idea that one day I will be a wife and potentially a mother seems utterly crazy to me, yet this is exactly what my best friend is doing at the very same age as me.
Quite simply, I don’t actually feel the age I am. I peer back at the years gone by, wondering how it’s possibly been five years since I graduated University, let alone be of an age where stuff like marriage and children are a realistic thing for someone of my age to be doing. And let me be clear, I’m under no illusion that 26 is old by any means. It’s not this that is my point. I’ve discovered that the majority of the time, my self-image just isn’t as up to date as my body is.
Now I’m not going around tottering around in bars pretending that I’m 18 or anything, but when you are in your mid-twenties, you aren’t constantly reminded of your age (like you are when you’re young and basically can’t do anything) so it’s easy to not really notice your age. Genuinely, apart from a fleeting reminder on my actual day of birth, the last four or five years feel as if they have just rolled into one. If you asked me my age, I could of course tell you. It just doesn’t match up with how I feel. How can I possibly have been on this planet for 26 whole years? I struggle to comprehend this. And it’s when I look back that I then start to panic.
I’ve tried to consider if there’s an undercurrent of fear in this weird obsession of mine. Of the past? Or of the future? Sure, I’ve got some incredible memories to look back on that I cherish. But I also have a pretty cracking future ahead too, with lots I’m really excited about. So what’s the issue?
My experience of time felt so different when I was younger. I had all the time in the world to do exactly as I wished. At least that’s what it felt like. Yet now, my perception of it is totally different. There are certain ‘deadlines’ that we just can’t get away from, most notably for women it seems and this creates pressure. A suffocating environment it can feel easier to just not address and admittedly, I do struggle with this. But it’s there like an annoying rash, goading you, reminding you that the seconds fly by, regardless of whether or not you acknowledge them.
But if I’ve learnt anything in this whole process it’s that as you grow older, circumstances, sometimes devastating at times, make you realise how short life really is. And how fragile. This knowledge creates an almost a newfound respect, we learn how careful we need to be with it and to try to not take it for granted. To be more precious with how we spend our time, more selfish. But we also learn to live life a little slower at times so as to appreciate the small things.
And surely that’s no bad thing.