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The time for my 26th birthday draws near.

It’s the sort of age you could never imagine becoming when you were a kid, isn’t it?

Yet I almost feel I’ve grown up more in these past two years than in the 20 before that. A lot is made at uni of “leaving home” and “flying the nest” but that’s not when it really happens.

Not in this age anyway – the era of the ‘boomerang generation’.

It happens when you take the plunge and properly move away. And when I say that I mean really trying to make it work on your own. Not with parents who buy their kids flats, pay their rent etc. That’s being spoilt.

It’s something I’ve been pretty shocked by since coming to London – the amount of spoilt little brats who seen to give themselves labels like ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘artist’.

I know that in the grand timeline of ages, 26 doesn’t seem like a very special birthday. But for me it feels almost like the start of everything. It’s taken me a while to get to a comfortable place in my life, and it feels all the better for having to have struggled and sacrificed to get there. The odd thing is it isn’t really ever where I thought I’d be.

But having spent my first night in London after moving here from a disastrous first job attempt in Gibraltar, I was alone and very, very frightened. I remember lying on the sofa at my friends house, with my world in my suitcase and absolutely no prospects before me. I had nowhere to live, no job. I could have taken the train back up to Scotland and stayed with my parents again for a while.

But I knew I couldn’t do that. That would have been failure.

So with only 24 hours until my friend turfed me out, I found a place to live on SpareRoom.com. From there I freelanced as a writer until I landed the editor job at Planet Rock.

My job there was cut 9 months later after the radio station was bought over by Bauer Media. I endured 5 months of scraping by on freelance work, battled depression and panic attacks that my luck had run out and I wouldn’t get another shot.

Then I landed my current role as a social media editor. I’m learning lots, have just passed my probation and been offered a raise. Not to mention I moved to a much better house with much nicer housemates.

And I’ve found a guy who looks like he’s going to become my next serious boyfriend.

I suppose most people don’t really care what our individual stories are. To them it probably sounds mundane. If they even take 2 seconds out of their day to care. But to us it’s not just stories its our life; it’s not just a catalogued series of events, it’s the things which, for better and worse, have made us who we are.

Because that, I think, is what growing up is. When people used to talk about growing up, it sounds like a snap decision; something you suddenly turn into one day.

In truth it’s the work of years. It’s the effect of all the many people who touch our lives, those who make it better and those who make it more difficult.

But I guess the question really is – do we ever really grow up?

It seems to me that the answer would be negative. We may mature and move into adulthood, but to say one “grows up” implies a finite ending. But the truth is we never stop growing up. We never stop growing and learning.

And that is the real wonder of adult life.

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