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Minty Slater-Mearns

Summer, 2022

I cut all my hair off the day before my birthday to signify a new beginning. I want nineteen to be big and full of good things. My birthday was spent the same way it always is. Presents in the morning. Phone calls with family in different time zones throughout the day. A big dinner in the garden. Birthday cake made by my mum. I like the routine of it, the time it gives me to acknowledge the fact I made it through another year.

A lot has changed in the last twelve months. Eighteen was a bit weird and full of various highs and lows. I got 3 A Levels and finally moved out of Leeds, making Manchester my home just as I had dreamt I would since my first visit when I was thirteen.

I made new friends, lost old ones and experienced the breakdown of a relationship for the first time, something I assumed would shatter me completely, but I felt nothing but relief that I finally had some time to figure myself out.

My writing finally started to take off, I got by-lines and a role contributing to and editing pieces for my uni’s arts and culture magazine. I write poetry and essays now too. I often think of the somewhat shy seventeen-year-old version of myself who pressed ‘publish’ on her first blog post, not expecting anything to come from it and I wish I could go back and tell her that all the uncertainty she felt then would be worth it eventually. She comes back to visit me sometimes. I catch her staring back at me in toilet mirrors at venues as pre gig nerves begin to settle in my stomach and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride to have made it so far.

Some things haven’t changed though. Adrenaline still pumps through my veins in high doses when I step into a hot, sticky floored venue. The return of proper gigs after being shut in our houses for well over a year (with a few brief interludes) truly was one of the many highlights of my eighteenth year on earth. I finally got the chance to see Wolf Alice, Lorde and Charli XCX and by God, does it feel good to be dancing again. I’ve read so many books and watched so many films at eighteen that it’s now becoming increasingly harder to pick favourites.

I have also realised that it really doesn’t matter how old I get, I will never be able to handle my drink (as proven by a tumble down a flight of stairs on a trip to Newcastle after drinking six treble vodka cokes), my favourite days will forever be the ones spent wandering round art galleries and museums, just taking everything in, and I always, always have to be the last person to shout ‘I love you’ as my friends and I part ways after nights out together.

I want to keep making time for things that make me happy. Leaving space for coffee with friends I haven’t seen in a while, discussions with my parents over trivial things, more live music, evenings in the pub knocking back pints and two for a fiver doubles, holidays to Mediterranean countries to bake my pale skin in the sunshine for two weeks, days to read and write and most of all I want the simplicity of life without too much worry to stick around.

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