A typical night: when you're 18 vs. when you're 25
1. Even though you're turning 25, you think you still have a lot in common with 18-year-olds. Then you meet someone who is 18 and you have nothing in common with them. You then meet another 18-year-old and you have nothing in common with them either. This is it. Your worst fear has been realised.
2. For some reason that you can't put your finger on, you consciously decide to avoid all 18-year-olds from this moment onwards.
3. You're listening to your favourite radio station far less than you used to. Why? Well as you've emphasised to a colleague many times now, the quality of that radio station has spectacularly declined over the last three years. It used to play all the music you absolutely loved. Now its music all sounds like a digger drilling a hole at the back of a notorious local car park.
4. And for some reason, you haven't been to your favourite club in the past six months. That's obvious, you think. I'm (now whispering in your head) avoiding all 18-year-olds at the moment, and I don't particularly like this 'digger drilling a hole at the back of a notorious local car park' music phase going on right now. It was just so much better in 2004 when everyone liked The Killers.
5. The fact that you are now listening to the same radio shows as your parents? "Coincidental. It's an experiment." You feel smarter when you say those words.
6. You then hear The Killers as part of a "guess the vintage year" feature on your parents' favourite radio station. Suddenly, there's a dramatic sinking feeling at the bottom of your stomach.
7. This is not as dramatic as the sinking feeling in your stomach when hungover you turns on the children's channels and finds that all of the presenters are about your age. When you were younger you assumed that every kids TV presenter would always be older than you.
8. You're also currently facing that dilemma when you are still cyberstalking that crush you had in your final year of uni or further education, but you haven't seen them in several years. You know that you have to move on, and meet people "4reals". So you only stalk them on Facebook on them 14 times when you're drunk and horny or every single time after you've connected to public Wi-Fi on your iPad.
9. You've started to notice the second wave of people your age getting married. The first wave of people were those who just got hitched in a hurry when they were 18, resulting in concerned debate between friends. Now three of your friends are getting married in the next six months or so. We're all still so young, you think to yourself.
10. You decide that the best thing you should do right now is talk about the number of weddings, so you complain to someone who is in their thirties. You realise that this is a mistake when they roll their eyes and give you a solid "You know nothing" look. "You know NOTHING."
11. Once you've gotten past that awkward moment, the person in their thirties asks for your age. When you've told them that you are about to hit 25, they respond with Oprah truthbombs about how 25 is "a really good age, but at 26 everything falls apart a little. 27? Powerful year. Powerful."
12. Then, when having another conversation with someone else who is in their thirties, they ask you how old you are. When you tell them that you are about to hit 25, they also drop Oprah truthbombs about your life ahead and they inform you of your future good and bad years, but weirdly the good and bad years you now hear do not correlate with the good and bad years the other person gave you just days before.
13. You then start moaning that you are hitting 25 and you are becoming aware that everything is changing. Their face: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"
14. Coincidentally, for some reason that you can't put your finger on, you consciously decide to avoid all people in their thirties from now on.
15. The only useful advice you get from people older than you is to purchase youth discount cards and store cards (like a Young Persons Railcards) before it is too late. You learn that they never bothered to do it. They are very passionate about this. They start gripping your arms and look at you straight in the eyes before chanting "don't make the same mistake I did. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't make the same..."
16. Even though you know that you will likely never afford to buy a house, you instantly start to get interested in the housing market. Whilst on train journeys, you lean on the windows and see other people's back gardens. You go, "Oh I like what they've done with that extension. The positioning of that lamp is very bold."
17. You then peer into house listings posted in the windows at estate agents and letting agents. Why? Well, you don't know why. You just do. The cost of the house is so inexplicably large you don't see the cost as a limit to purchasing it either.
18. Do you know how a mortgage works? You have no idea how a mortgage works.
19. All of those shows you used to watch ironically about decoration and selling houses on television, you are now starting to watch them without the irony. Your other fond television pursuit is passing out in front of the TV shortly after 11 p.m.
20. You are watching home decoration programmes at the part of your life when you are starting to earn more money now than when you were a teenager. I mean, you're watching a show right now about bold table lamp positioning but you're not getting that excited about this, you're getting excited at the opportunity of purchasing slightly more expensive cans of chopped tomatoes without the guilt.
21. Then your mother rings you and whispers this terrifying word: "Pension." A shiver goes through you spine and you don't know what to do.
22. Then your university starts leaving you phone messages, messages that are subtle pleas to give them some money. Still confused about why they are contacting you whilst you are still paying them back your student loans, you proceed to do the following. "Oh hello. I'm sorry I'm in a meeting. Could I ring you back later? I'm in a really important meeting. Whilst I'm driving. Even though it's at 10 at night? Yeah. Nuts isn't it? OK I'll ring you back in five minutes. Even though you've rung me from a private number so I have no idea how to contact you. OK. Bye. Bye. Bye."
23. It is now the eve of your 25th birthday. On the run up to it, you treat it like your own wake. As you get changed for it you shout to yourself "I'm 25. I'm going to be 25. My youth is fading fast. My life is slipping away. This year is going to be different. This birthday I'm going to be mature. I'm going to step up my sophistication. I'm an adult. I'm about to live the adulthood I have been aspiring to have my whole life."
24. You then spend your birthday night getting so drunk you can't see, waste all the money you don't have and you make a total fool of yourself by feeling up a lamppost thinking you're pulling Daniel Radcliffe whilst softly whispering the chorus to "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba. Like last year. Like every year.
25. This year is going to be the same as the last one, isn't it?