If someone asked me, in all seriousness, what my ideal evening would consist of, I would close my eyes and think of the following (in this order): soaking myself in bath oils until wrinkled, lying horizontal underneath a big blanket wearing thick socks, propping myself with an oversize pillow, and settling into a good solid book (hardback, not on Kindle). I know what you’re thinking: This reminds you of the sort of evening someone’s grandma would have.
If you were a fly on the wall in my flat on any given evening, you’d probably see me reading the papers with a pair of glasses perched on the end of my nose. I’m 26, and yet my most treasured possession is my luxury knit hot water bottle. I often feel like the right answer should be that my ideal evening is something that involves venturing outside my apartment, or going to a concert or a party. I’m racked with fear that I will look back and regret not being “wild” in my twenties.
To console myself that I wasn’t the only one (apart from some of my introverted friends) who always preferred staying in if given the option, I went to Google for some reassurance. First, I found a piece in the Telegraph called “knitters are the new gangsters,” about the rise of twentysomethings knitting themselves woolly garments. Then I found a satirical article published in The New Yorker about the “growing phenomenon of calling oneself a grandma,” which was mostly “among twentysomethings who refuse to leave their apartments over the weekend.” I used to roll my eyes at people who would claim to be “such a grandma!” while staying at home cooking and “working on a new project” -- but now I’ve turned into that cliché. I get hives at just the idea of going to a nightclub, let alone forcing my feet into pointy heels after years of only wearing black leather boots. But it’s OK -- maybe Generation Granny really is on the rise.
I also found a piece called “Charting the rise of Generation Yawn: 20 is the new 40” by Rachael Dove, who asks: “Am I not supposed to be 'finding myself' through a haze of LSD as they did in the 1960s, or dancing in fields on ecstasy like they did in the 1990s?” We feel the pressure to be interesting like our previous generations and yet, instead, I listen to '80s music, join book clubs, and enjoy long cliffside walks.
Last summer I went on a trip to Ibiza, on my own. I was writing a feature about “holidaying solo." On the second day I received a text from a friend:
“How is it!! What have you been doing??”
I was in bed, in a towel, listening to Fleetwood Mac. The night before I’d had dinner on my own before heading to bed by 9 p.m.
“I’m writing in bed, staying in again tonight. Bliss!”
“You’re staying IN? You’re in IBIZA? Go out and go to a rave. If I was there, I’d drag you out, at least for a bit. Go on, you should go to one of the parties!”
“But I have only brought day dresses and trainers! Honest, I’m having the best time here, in my room, reading!”
“Lol. That trip is wasted on you.”
Although she was (partly) joking, there is a quiet expectation that in your twenties you shouldn’t be boring. Whether that’s “settling down” with a partner or having nights in -- it somehow still seems like a waste. I’m still made to feel like in my twenties I “should” be partying, doing things I’ll later regret, dating like mad, having one-night stands aplenty and getting hangovers, albeit from better-quality alcohol than you did when sneaking an underage drink. Perhaps it’s deemed the last chance to really “get things out of your system," whatever that means. I’m finding it difficult to own the fact that I once enjoyed crowdsurfing and doing shots, and now I enjoy spraying lavender scent onto my pillow before chugging a glass of water and getting into bed. These little enjoyments can be classed as a bit of “self-love” time. This is another trend to sweep our generation, knowing that although we spend a long time online we like to treat ourselves. The hashtag #selflove has been used over 2.5 million times on Instagram. We millennials are using social media to share our "me time."
The reality is that I just really like being at home. I was in my element on New Year’s Eve -- I had my friends round, cooked dinner, then was able to sneak off to bed at around 2 a.m. while everyone else carried on partying until the sun came up the next day. I wonder if I often prefer being at home because of the obvious reason that going out is expensive (a round of cocktails can be the price of a whole weekly food shop) and I can have immediate quality time under one familiar roof. Maybe after years of thinking I wanted a Big Crazy Life, I just want a Quieter Life spending time with the people I love without ruining my shoes on a sticky dance floor in the process.
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