a girl's guide to growing up (by somebody with absolutely no experience)

Always steal toilet paper, never share e-cigarettes and if you're in love with someone try not to have sex with anyone who isn't them. i-D Features Editor Bertie Brandes may still be growing up, but she's got some advice for you.

by Bertie Brandes
20 August 2014, 10:55am


Honestly, a guide to growing up? It can't be possible. We are all growing up, all of the time. I don't know anyone of any age or gender, who won't occasionally call me crying from a bathroom stall because they don't know what they're doing with their life. Trying to distil the awful pain of prolonged existence into one easy guide is like telling yourself you're really going to decide what you want for dinner before you get to the supermarket. How unfathomably sensible. Then, half an hour later there you are shuffling around the frozen food section inspecting each and every compartment at great length, because, you know, potato shapes. I'm not saying I don't know things that might completely change your entire life (hey, I might) I mean use your eyes to scroll down, I have written an article, it doesn't just end after this word. It's just only fair to start by admitting I have absolutely no significant knowledge on the subject of growing up properly other than that you should always steal toilet paper and never share e-cigarettes. Ok, let's get on with it.

As you get older sex gets a) less complicated and b) more weird. Make of that what you will. Growing up also means boring things like deciding what form of birth control works for you instead of just sort of simultaneously nodding and shaking your head when people ask you if you're on the pill while you're in the middle of having sex with them. Aside from the practical stuff like suddenly not being afraid to go to "clinics" and be "tested" because actually it's quite thrilling and hilarious to be asked about your sex life by a stranger, you should also be aware that some people are pigs and you should avoid having sex with them wherever possible. You have probably had at least one failed long-term relationship by the start of your twenties meaning you're brilliant in bed (just take my word for it) and if not, the best (and most heart-breakingly painful) is yet to come. Don't waste your brilliance on people who make you feel rubbish and sad. Waste your brilliance on Netflix and Facebook like everybody else.

It's harsh. You're booted out of school with very little understanding of life other than that you never want to drink Nescafé ever again, and suddenly you don't get to see your bleary-eyed best friends in matching American Apparel leggings every day at 9am anymore. Then you go to university where you meet people who are in equal measures cleverer than you, more stylish than you and 100% more annoying than you and you feel scared and wear a beret twice before realising that's a terrible idea. Then you become friends with the most annoying one. Then your friends from everywhere all start combining and you get upset because the annoying clever one likes the one who wore the jazziest leggings and so forth. It's very silly really. Friendship is the most important thing I think possibly in the world after Fabulous Fingers and Will Self. Value your friends, support them, love them, and occasionally cook them a dinner so unbelievably delicious you know they'd never dare cross you. Never. Ever. Ever hook up with their ex's or (OBVIOUSLY) their boyf/girlfriends.

This is the most boring and useless thing about growing up if you ask me. Getting a job is important because you need to keep yourself in moisturiser and electricity, but deciding what job you want to have forever can be (a little bit) intimidating. Now that unpaid internships are punishable by death and you're competing for "work experience" against Oxbridge graduates, the only thing you can really do is not be precious and try lots of things. Unfortunately most of the time finding your dream career is not like Cinderella, where you suddenly realise the glass slipper of "junior publishing assistant" or "online copy generator" or "child-tamer" fits. Essentially you just have to find something to do sometimes that you either absolutely love or that you're fine with, and then do it until you're old and then stop. Don't worry too much, do what feels right and believe in yourself because honestly your parents probably don't by this point.

Ah and finally, the big one. Love. Love is what will force you to grow up years before you're really ready. You will fall in love with some seriously odd people, some drug addicts, some people who have embarrassing accents and probably one person who you absolutely cannot imagine ever being apart from ever again. And then it will all come crashing down around you and you'll realise love is basically about timing and you might as well wait until you're ready to have a kid or at least declare bankruptcy before thinking about sharing your entire life with someone again. People say you get stronger as you get older but as far as I can tell you just get increasingly accustomed to feeling rejected and alone. It won't be long before you're looking back on those sleepless nights of teenage heartbreak with a tear of nostalgia in your glazed, un-blinking eye. Alternatively fall in love really early and be blissfully happy and never, ever talk about it, because believe me, nobody wants to know. Helpful tip: when you are in love, try not to have sex with other people that you don't love. It's sort of unnecessary.

So there you have it. I hope this has been helpful, please don't send all the bouquets and thank you notes all at once. Always carry a spare tampon. Never believe that a pair of shoes or a dress will make you a better person. Brush your hair sometimes. Good luck.


Text Bertie Brandes
Photography Piczo

international women's day
Bertie Brandes