Hello, and welcome to the black hole of my website - erm, my lovely shiny blog. I suppose, because this is my first one and I don't really know what I'm doing, that it's worth introducing myself before it all gets too dry and academic. (It's not going to get dry and academic. Mum, you can probably skip the introduction.) My name is Tilly, and I recently and begrudgingly turned 25. The problem with turning 25, as I see it, is that 25 sounds unavoidably grown up. You can excuse a lot of your own mistakes when you're in your early twenties, because for every indecision or ineptitude there's a gif-laden Buzzfeed article to make you feel a bit better and to convince you that early-twenties is basically the same thing as mid-teens, if with, perhaps, inexplicably more Pokemon. 25 doesn’t really feel cool and hip and Buzzfeed-trendy. It's stranded halfway between "25 Places for Bottomless Boozy Brunch in London that are Lit AF Because You're Play-Acting as a Grown-Up and Isn't It Hilarious [insert '100' emoji and fire emoji]" and "28 Ways to Mix Vodka with Regret and Pass It Off as a Boutique Cocktail Rather Than Your Hideous Mess of an Early Midlife Crisis", illustrated entirely by Bridesmaids gifs. (NB: this is not actually my opinion of hitting one's thirties. This is a crude paraphrasing. Sometimes I think I'm funny when I'm actually the anti-funny. It's a struggle. Please don't blacklist me from your fine company, you lovely, successful thirty-somethings.) 25 is one of those ages where you actually really start to feel the pressure to have done something, not just to be embarking upon something. And actually, how realistic is that expectation?
I've been lucky enough to have lived in a lot of places and met a lot of very different people, with very different ambitions and interests. Because of the unfailing joys of social media, I get to admire (and, yes, occasionally feel incredibly envious of) their varied successes. Some of my university friends, for example, are pursuing acting careers and doing incredibly well. Other friends are competing internationally with their horses. Still more have made travelling the world their mission. I have to remind myself constantly that we all broadcast the best of our lives on social media, and that everyone (mostly everyone) has had to struggle for what they have, and what they are. It's a fine line to walk between using your social network's achievements as impetus and using them as a way to put yourself down.
My own goals have jumped all over the map throughout the years, but have remained fairly consistently rooted in the equestrian industry. Like most horse-mad children, once I realised that "mermaid" is not a legitimate career goal I settled for the next-most fantastical aim I could think of: I decided that not only would I become a professional rider, I would become an Olympic rider, and spend my days festooned in medals and kissing ponies and all that sort of thing. Very nice stuff, yes, but certainly not very easy stuff. I am a bit of an anomaly in my entirely unhorsey family, and my long-suffering mother walked with me to various riding stables for weekly lessons until I was old enough to shift poo in exchange for pony-snogging time. To cut a long and familiar story short, I shifted an awful lot of poo and eventually bought myself my own horse to snog. After convincing my high school to let me consolidate my final two years into one (let's all raise a glass to the American schooling system, which is hilariously easy to sail through), I accepted a working pupil position with an Olympic event rider 800 miles from home.
To cut another long story short, I realised then that I would need a lot of things that I didn't have in order to achieve this medal-festooned, full-time pony snogging dream - namely, money, some semblance of talent, and probably a bit more charisma. I went away to work on this, and ended up living back in England and attending the University of Kent. I focused most of my time and energy on theatre whilst at university, acting in shows as well as learning how to promote them. I attempted to cobble together some sort of organisational system for my life as I juggled work and study and play and, well, plays with being the secretary of our uni drama society. I made all the mistakes that you can make as a twenty-something and survived rooting around in the sofa for spare change to buy cheap bags of porridge to live off of. Not exactly the bohemian dream, but perhaps the Wetherspoons-sponsored version thereof.
Horses happened, much growing up happened (I think), and somehow along the way this all morphed into the realisation that what I would really like to do is write. I've always struggled to tie my many disparate passions together - riding and owning horses is not conducive, for example, to travelling extensively (nor to the serious scrimping that pre-empts these trips), and trying to fit in painting and acting and chipping away at my ever-growing reading list meant that something had to give. Usually, it was sleep. It was becoming ever-clearer that keeping up all of my hobbies was becoming a full-time job. And so: writing, a career that I can do from almost anywhere (travel - check), in which I could use my equestrian experience and contacts to actually pay some bloody bills (pony-snogging - check), and which can run the gamut from sociopolitical think-pieces to fiction to theatrical reviews and so on (not-so-secret desire to save the world and steadily growing but hugely fragmented novel - check). Luckily, I wrote enough homoerotic My Chemical Romance fanfiction when I was twelve that my writing skills are sharp as a sodding tack.
The road to actually becoming A Person Who Survives By Writing has been a bit of an interesting one - stay tuned for the spectacularly (un)sordid story and some unsolicited life advice.