Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon


personal & university 3 min read

So I’m 26 years old and I’m a graduate. When the hell did that all happen?

I think I had a bit of an age/life crisis thing a month or so ago. The twin realisations that I’m now in the latter half of my twenties, and also that university is over for me, both hit within a few weeks of each other, and they hit hard.

I got that feeling of mild panic, like I’d lost time and was now hopelessly behind in life itself. Having gone to work for Adobe after only being at university for about a year, then coming back to do my degree when I was 22, means that I’ve graduated when I’m 4 years older than most of my peers (and indeed 6 years older than Derek).

It’s not really a worry about finding a job; I’m confident about that. It’s more to do with feeling like I arrived late at a party and now have less time to get my life on track. I mean, let’s face it: in less than 4 years, I’m going to be 30. There’s a psychological barrier there for a start. Also I’m in a serious relationship with someone who’s 5 and a half years my junior. Everything is really great there, but I do (naturally, I hope) worry that the age difference will become an issue for her in the future. Somehow an age gap seems that much greater when one of you leaves university.

I can’t say that I actually feel any different, but that’s to be expected. I still feel young, and to be honest my behaviour is far more immature now than it’s been since I was a teenager. The difference is that it’s done without being self-conscious now. One amazing thing that the last few years have brought me is a fundamental sense of being comfortable with myself. I don’t quite fully understand the nature of that change, since I can still notice the same things that I once was desperate to change about myself; the flaws we all possess. Thing is, they just don’t seem to matter so much anymore, and not just because I’ve seen that they’ve not hindered my social/personal life.

I just feel that I have a better implicit understanding of myself now, and that breeds huge confidence in just being who I am. It’s a pretty great feeling, and the holy grail of the long-gone teenage years. I do sometimes wonder if I ought to also lament the loss of that very introspective uncertainty, as a vestige of youth and inexperience, but I can’t bring myself to feel melancholy about it in the least.

Granted, I now find it a bit harder to shift the few extra pounds gained from over-indulgence whilst holidaying abroad, but I’m hardly out of shape, and generally I feel great. Lauren takes great pleasure in affectionately mocking the occasional grey hair I’ve acquired, and the skin on my forehead and around my eyes is showing rather more creases than when I’d just left the factory, but to be honest I think I look better than I ever have before. And I have to confess, I really like the grey hairs. I’m not saying that I’m not glad that they’re scarce, but I do enjoy the few that are present.

As with just about everything, the reality of graduating having just turned 26 is nowhere near as alarming as anticipated, and I feel very centered right now, on a personal level. The future is still an inherently uncertain thing, but I’m quietly confident that I’m well equipped to face it, and that’s perhaps one of the most comforting realisations I’ve ever had. I’m now very definitely (and inescapably) an adult (and if that doesn’t wake you up in the middle of the night then you must not know me very well), but I’ve found that, wonderfully, that status actually gives me the conviction to act just as daft as I ever have, and indeed to not feel constrained by the ultimately meaningless perceived social pressures of the education system’s extended adolescence.

One of the most significant signs that I was having a bit of a crisis came for me in the form of my dreams. Now, I’m someone who dreams pretty much exclusively of death-defying escapes, light-sabre battles, and assorted other types of fantasy super-heroics. A recurring theme, as in the dreams of any sensible and well-adjusted person, is that of flying. Not just being a damn hero, but being a hero with the power of flight.

I’d stopped having those dreams for a while lately. I’m not saying that my night-time fantasy life had receded so far as to embody images of actual everyday things (perish the thought), but my dreams had certainly quietened down. Maybe I’d light-sabre an army of evil ninja robots to death, and then do the weekly fucking grocery shopping on the way home. I’m sure you can understand the terror which that sort of imagery brings.

Recently though, things have returned to normal. I still enjoy my epic battles of laser swordplay nightly, only now I can once again rise above the slain, hurtle through the upper atmosphere of their hellish planet, and set the whole thing on fire as I set out through interstellar space in search of further opportunities for legendary heroics.

Surely, there can be no greater indication than that of having come to a state of fundamental inner peace with now being all grown up.

Until next time, do keep it sheercore.