However, I focus so much on the shiny goal, the reward, the pot of golden baubles at the end of the murky rainbow that I lose sight of all the “plans” I’m supposed to have in place.
I feel that this may be something that many or most of us experience – “us” being my generation, a/k/a humans currently in their twenties, although if this sounds familiar to you, then welcome. Welcome all.
This issue, I believe, is primarily a condition of watching our parents’ successes as they pulled off this insurmountable feat every year of our idyllic Celtic Tiger “boom” childhoods.
The big, fat, ugly point that is so often disregarded is that Christmas marks the END OF THE YEAR. So as soon as you start looking forward to it, you’re already focusing on totting up your annual score on the most important categories of your life.
September is the end of the summer and the beginning of the end. You’ve got three months to wrap this year up and park it under the tree so that when your family and friends rip off the glittery paper they’ll be hugely, stunningly impressed by what you’ve put inside. Forgive the metaphor as there are MANY more to come.
Allow me to break this down. The important categories that I’m referring to may include – but are not limited to – job, partner, abode, second job, physical appearance, youthfulness / coolness / hipness, third job, five year plan, 10 year plan, entire life plan.
And the occasions at which you must discuss all of the above may include, but are not limited to, the entire month of December: family dos, work dos, friend dos, dinner-party dos, drinks dos, the works. You’ll need at least 16 outfits and 400 conversation starters.
Let’s start with “job” or – dare I say it – “career.” The problem with being a writer and inescapably Irish (extremely self-deprecating and falsely modest) is that telling people you’re a writer never, ever sounds the way you want it to sound. It sounds arrogant and weird, especially if you’re me and you can’t say normal things without adopting a silly voice or stupid cartoonish way of saying it.
“Oh me? Hahaha, oh, I do nothing! No, well, I don’t do nothing. I’m actually a writer?” Which is what I say, without fail, every time.
At first, this sounds like I’m ashamed or embarrassed, but then veers uncomfortably into implying that I’m actually quite into myself and offended that you haven’t heard of me or read any of my work. Rude.
HOWEVER. We live in a day and age where people know that one weekly column can’t support an entire young woman’s existence so then I get the dreaded, “What’s the day job?” Or, “How do you survive?” Or, “How have you not died from total starvation?” which leads to lots of babbling and unnecessary background in my temporary administrative roles and absolutely everything I’ve written since a poetry competition at age five.
Realistically, at this point, I’m drunk which equates to slurry babbling and possibly even tears as I move myself with my own passion. Sorry you asked now, eh?
So the plan this year is to keep that one pleasant, succinct and, most importantly, modest. “Still an extremely successful columnist and returning to New York in January where I will continue work on my debut novel.” Ought to go down a treat.
Next is “partner” which, admittedly, I am acing. My family have all met him and adore him and will politely and keenly ask of his whereabouts and I will report that he is skiing abroad, one of his myriad talents.
The reason I can gloat so freely on this is that last year my relationship was the great big elephant in the room as “long distance” and its perilous, ever-changing circumstances meant that no one could ask about him at all, lest I burst into inconsolable tears.
My heart goes out to any and all long-distancers this year. I have felt your pain. One day you too will merrily gloat in peace.
Then comes “abode” which will be a wild old hoot as I regale everyone with a year’s supply of anecdotes on living with my parents in a small seaside apartment at the age of 25! This segues nicely into a heated discussion on Dublin rent prices and how the joke’s on all the suckers paying rent because I love my mom and dad and have the sweetest deal in the world. I never want to leave them or have disgusting fake adult roommates ever again.
Finally getting my O-1 visa will be a huge get-out-of-jail-free card in terms of Christmas banter. It will allow me to gloss over the fact that I’m freeloading with my parents and that I have seriously made the executive decision to be a writer.
America has granted permission for me to actively pursue that so it’s a legitimate thing now. I have decided that the visa will be my HOT TOPIC this year.
Watching Brooklyn in the cinema this week (go and see it immediately if you haven’t yet – it is perfect) I was reduced to a snivelling mess as I remembered the dull ache of leaving home but also the thrill, the nerves and the pure childlike excitement of the New York adventure. Currently feeling highly topical and a lot like Saoirse Ronan and I could be excellent friends.
So, by the time I’ve figured out how to make light of the less glamorous aspects of my life and really bang on about the most impressive ones, I’ve almost forgotten about the five billion photographs that will be taken by friends and family alike. I haven’t had a haircut since April 2014 when I paid $200 for “Hollywood blonde” and got something closer to senile hen. It has since grown out quite dramatically so the top half is brown and the bottom half a stale, sickly yellow.
I stopped exercising in September due to all the focusing on my aforementioned “career” and my diet has since consisted mostly of chocolate and cheese.
And, here’s a sad confession: When I was in London a few weeks ago I bought a beautiful dress for Christmas which is a size too small. I did this in the hopes that I would slim down to fit into it by December 25.
I’m not sure exactly when I became “that girl” but I hate her. I forget myself, I consume entire packets of camembert and snack regularly on burgers and cakes, and then I remember the dress.
I’m going to have to beat my body into this thing in four weeks with untoned flesh spilling out at the edges underneath a blanket of half-dead, two-tone hair that I will have to use as some sort of protective cape.
Generally speaking, I’m highly excited for the glitz and glamour of the holiday season, but as is the case with every year, it turns into a weighing up of how badly or how well I’ve done in the last 12 months, and an opportunity to compare to myself to me-this-time-last-year. Dreadfully bad hair and inexcusable shopping techniques aside, I have the sense that I’m not faring too badly.
Just like Saoirse, I have New York waiting for me on the other side.