I’m a huge fan of memoirs, so when I heard one part of my favourite podcast duo Dolly Alderton was releasing her own, Everything I Know About Love, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Just in case you do not know who the lovely Dolly is, she is an incredibly great journalist who previously had a dating column in the Sunday Times and is a podcast host of one of my weekly favourites, The High Low. Her book is all about navigating life as a young millennial woman in London, focusing mostly on her female friendships, disastrous dates and party animal days – peppered with nostalgic stories of being a teenager on MSN and attending those horrific traffic light club nights that most 20 to 30-year-olds are ashamed to say they’ve been to once. Everything I Know About Love is a humorous, witty, endearing and loveable book that I believe every millennial woman should read. Not only is it incredibly charming and will make you have constant throwback Thursday esq thoughts to your younger days of less responsibility, it taught and reaffirmed to me some things I really needed to know.
Firstly, I learned that friendship is so important. Now I’m 26 years old, I can count on one hand the friends I have that I could trust my life with. Although I love each and every one of them, I have to admit that I probably don’t make as much an effort to see them now as what I used to .. which is just all part of growing up. As we’ve all gotten into relationships, moved out of our parent’s homes and started our careers, it’s only natural, as Dolly lists, that your friends start to slip down the list of your priorities. The great thing is, whenever I do see my friends, although these days it is normally over a costa than a few french martinis – no matter how much time has passed, it’s like we’ve never been apart. A sign of true friendship in my eyes. One thing I am going to take away from Everything I Know About Love is that I need to stay in contact with my friends much more frequently. This doesn’t mean meeting for lunch every week, but just regular texts to check in, have a gossip and catch up.
One other takeaway from this book has been that the relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you have. I’m guilty of being a people pleaser. Of constantly putting other peoples needs ahead of mine because I feel obligated to. In the last 2 years, I’ve obviously experienced how detrimental that mindset has been on my own mental health but, sadly it hasn’t really stopped me putting others first. There is a part in the book where Dolly has a similar realisation and I felt like I was nodding as I read the paragraph. Self-love is so important and right now, there is so much of it banded around online that sometimes, I believe it has lost its true meaning. It’s not all about overflowing bubble baths, boujie candles and going to Yoga – it’s about absolutely putting yourself first and doing what will bring out the best in you.
For me, Dolly has my dream career. I kick myself for not pursuing my love for writing by studying journalism. I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but I get so much fulfilment from it that it is a craft I wish I learned and refined from an academic perspective. School for me, however, was not an enjoyable experience. In fact, I loathe when people say “school days are the best days of your life” because they certainly weren’t for me. Dolly’s career of being a high profile newspaper dating columnist and podcast host is something I’d love to have aspired to be. So when her chapter on visiting a therapist as she, in her own words, wound up there because she woke up feeling like shit every day, it felt like I was looking at exactly how my life is right now. Feeling lost, low and pretty helpless. I was surprised to realise that this chapter of her life only took place around 2-3 years ago, when she was just a year younger than me. I couldn’t believe that someone I looked up to and thought had it all, could have ever been in that frame of mind that I currently find myself in. It was comforting to know that these little blips can happen to anyone – no matter how much their life seems 100 times more attractive than your own. We all struggle, we all have confidence crises and periods in our lives where we end up in a rut and just don’t know what to do. Looking at how far she has come since that chapter has affirmed to me that I can get out of this mindset too, start really pursuing what I want to do and hopefully, create something I become proud of.
The main lessons I’m taking away from this book is that your 20s really are the years that shape you. When I look back at how I was between 18-20, I was much more carefree, completely and utterly immature and naive at how easy I thought adulthood would be. My 20s have included some of the best moments of my life, from moving to London, travelling the world, meeting the love of my life, planning my wedding and securing an amazing job that I love. But with all of that said, within the last 6 years, there have equally been as many of the worst moments of my life. I gave up a career I loved, suffered huge setbacks due to my mental health and felt for the last few months that I’m finally playing catch up to make up for the struggles I’ve encountered in the last 2 years. I have moments where I think I haven’t come that far but when I look at how I was at 2o years old to who I am now, I’m a completely different person. I’ve matured, evolved, know exactly who I want to be and want to tackle the confidence issues I have to help me get there. I embrace who I am and don’t feel the need to pretend to be anything I’m not. I’d much rather have a night in than a night out. I’d much rather buy 5 books than an urban decay eyeshadow palette. I don’t feel the need to do things for the gram or make excuses for not being a typical 26 years old. I am me and I won’t modify who I am for anybody.
I’ve tried to keep this post as spoiler free as possible because I truly believe Dolly’s book is one every 20 something girl can relate to. It’s funny, it’s endearing and it’s entirely relatable – even just for the MSN references alone. If you have hovered over this book and not clicked add to basket, all I can say is DO IT. It will make you laugh, make you sad and make you understand the value of all the stories you’ve collected over the years as you’ve grown that have shaped you into who you are today.
Have you read this book? Are you planning to pick it up? What books have you read that have made you reflect back on growing up? I’d love to hear your thoughts below or as always you can tweet me at @amysbookshelf_ or Instagram me at @amysbookself. As always, thank you so much for reading!