I’ve always had a thing about certain ages.
Not in a creepy sex-pest way (although I do tend to form relationships with 22 year olds, which was fine when I was 20 but would probably be weird and wrong if I did it now). There’ve just always been ages which I thought were going to be particularly brilliant/dreadful, for no apparent reason.
For example: when I was 14, I was convinced that being 19 was going to be AMAZING. And it was actually pretty damn good; I spent most of it sat on the sofa in my student house doing some talking and drinking and watching TV and probably not enough work if I’m honest.
Then I decided that 23 was going to be the greatest of all the ages. It was not. In fact, it was quite possibly the worst of all of the ages, including 26 – the age of the Second Will Young Nervous Breakdown. And any age that is worse than one where you find yourself in the bath sobbing along to Will Young’s “Come On” has got to be a bad one.
But that age that’s always scared me is 27. Not because it’s the rock and roll age of death – I’m not really rock and roll enough for that to be a real concern – but because it’s the Jane Austen Age Of No Return.
Anne Elliot in Persuasion? She’s 27, and if she doesn’t snare Captain Wentworth then she will be alone and sad forever and ever amen. And Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice? She’s 27, and she’s so very nearly past it that she ends up getting a bit of a panic on and marrying Mr Collins, who is quite obviously a total dickwad, purely so she doesn’t end up alone and miserable in her parents’ house. I’d love to give more examples, but there aren’t any. Presumably because 27 is SO OLD that it’s not worth making any more characters that age.
And yes, I know that the world has moved on in the past 200 years and that 27 isn’t past it and over the hill, and that securing myself a nice husband shouldn’t be and isn’t my greatest concern. But Austen’s point still stands; 27 feels like a watershed age. It’s the start of your dreaded Late Twenties, of having to maybe be a bit of an adult. It’s the age at which you start noticing that the brand new Young Profesisonals on the train are quite a lot younger than you are. It’s the age where even veteran sports people are younger than you, and your facebook stops being pictures of nights out or even weddings and starts just being a parade of babies.
And that might even be a bit scarier than Mr Collins.
But actually, so far it’s proving to be OK. Yes, I am only 6 weeks in and yes, my point of comparison is the Will Young misery of 26, but really, 27 isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It’s actually quite good; I like the fact that I’m late 20s now.
I feel like it gives me an excuse to sit down and have a cup of tea and look back on the slightly chaotic mess of my early-to-mid 20s and go “oh, thank God that’s over”. I feel a bit calmer, and a bit more settled, and a bit less like my life is a mad rush to get to some ridiculous end destination of having a Proper Job or a Proper Home or a Proper Relationship. Because I’ve somehow ended up with all those things mostly by accident, even though I was crashing through life in a bit of a panic up until now. And that makes me ridiculously lucky.
So yes, maybe 27 is the Age Of No Return, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I think I’ll have a cup of tea and think about it.