The Final Article
Six years to the day, it is with enormous gratitude and a heart so full it’s bordering on a medical event that I let you know this is The Twenties Club’s final article.
In a world where people are so often gently pushed or forcefully shoved out of their jobs due to criticism or conflict or simply losing relevance, it is not lost on me what a privilege it is to be saying goodbye to The Twenties Club on my own terms and on my own timeline.
In fact, most of the past six years have felt like a privilege. To have had a voice and an opinion that people care about. To have built a space where I can make mistakes and fall short of your expectations and still be met with kindness and decency. To have facilitated conversations around politics and pregnancy loss, cancer and careers, faith and fashion, tattoos-gone-wrong and sugar-daddy’s-gone-surprisingly-well. To have shared your experiences with eating disorders and imposter syndrome and double mastectomies at 26 and that time you accidentally made a group chat for your nudes or airdropped a NSFW photo to your family iCloud. You’ve shown this community what it looks like to be women in STEM and climate change researchers and primary education teachers and frontline health workers. You’ve taught this community how to negotiate a pay rise, exfoliate properly, have non-cringe phone sex, raise a child with higher needs, cope with job rejection, survive workplace bullying, fight structural racism, live with trichotillomania and the benefits of everything from therapy to cold showers to sex on your period. And you’ve allowed me to build a career out of the two things I love most: writing and community. It’s all been an enormous fucking privilege.
I made the decision about twelve months ago (deciding I’d officially close on May 30th, 2021 – TTC’s sixth birthday), but I’ve known since I launched in 2015 that I’d close the website before I left my twenties. On face value, I can see why closing The Twenties Club when I’m no longer *in it* sounds like the perfect conclusion; a nice way to tie everything up with a neat bow. But that’s exactly why I didn’t want to do it. Because to end The Twenties Club when I turned thirty would imply that I’d completed the job: That I had mastered my twenties and arrived at some illusive destination of adulthood. Of self-assertiveness and self-confidence. That I had answered all the questions that hung over my life. But, as I’m sure all of you will attest to, the questions of adulthood are only ever replaced with newer, more complex ones.
There’s still so much I don’t know. Like why I always peel off my shellac nail polish or insist on driving with an empty tank despite the recurring nightmare my car will break down in the middle of the motorway. I don’t know why I don’t like the taste of wine or champagne or oysters but will happily eat the same tin of salmon seven nights in a row. I haven’t figured out why I can’t cook any of the basics, like rice, or keep flowers alive for longer than 24 hours but can somehow make the perfect pavlova with my eyes closed and have had the same thriving pot plants for nine-hundred years. I can’t stand the fact that I’m really good at parallel parking but can never remember where I’ve parked my fucking car. And I’d love to know if my overt friendliness is secretly sabotaging my ability to move past the friend zone with the guys I’m interested in. I’d pay good money to find out whether my bank hates me for losing my debit card and forgetting all my passwords once a month and I’d love to be the kind of person who says things like, “Yeah, I’ve been hiking there!”. I’d love to be a better writer and a more consistent friend. I’d love to be more calm. More self-assured and less sensitive. More calm and less frenzied. And I’d love to be better at recycling.
There is no sufficient way for me to thank you for what you’ve given me over the past six years. So many of you have been reading this blog since its inception and the fact that you still send me messages and emails and come up to me on footpaths and in cafes and stop me in shopping malls to say hello or confess something is surreal and I hope you never stop doing it. Thank you for being the most unbelievably kind and generous and curious readers. For challenging my thinking, reframing and informing my world view, for always coming to this space with an open mind and for your willingness to grow alongside me.
This isn’t goodbye from me, by the way. It’s just goodbye from The Twenties Club and this website. A graduation of sorts. I’ll still be oversharing my fears and feelings, favourite books and (mostly bad) Netflix recommendations. I’ll still be encouraging you to clean your face and invest in high quality retinol and read more Dolly Alderton and Durga Chew-Bose and David Nichols and Tayari Jones and Sally Rooney. I’ll still give you great advice that I seldom take, and I’ll still warn you that you’ll need a week to recover from Hana Yanagihara’s A Little Life. The only difference is that it will only happen on Instagram, which as of tonight will switch from @the_twenties_club to @___madeleinewalker (she’s not that bad, I promise).
And finally, while I don’t have a core principle in life, there are six words that have consistently influenced my ability to endure hard things:
“The best is yet to come.”
Now, I don’t say that to sound cheesy or ignorant. I say it because I fundamentally believe it to be true. I believe that, despite everything, better days are always coming. On life’s best days I say to myself: “The best is yet to come.” Which is to say, if this is how good today feels, isn’t it incredible to think that my best days still lie ahead? That I will have better days than this one? And I say it on life’s worst days: “The best is yet to come.” On the days where I’m reminded that the world is, at least, 50% terrible. I say it when I’m reminded that bad things happen to good people. Good people get cancer and lose their jobs and their babies and their homes and have their hearts broken.
But mostly I say it because I like the challenge of those six words. I like the way they demand that I keep believing them. As Maggie Smith says, “To wear hope like a garment you’ll grow into.” I clothe myself in hope today and I commit to putting it back on tomorrow. Even if it doesn’t quite fit yet, I trust that it will in time. Which I think on some level is what all of us do; despite the suffering that life makes us endure, we continue to live through it because we quietly believe better days are on the horizon.
Let’s stick around and see if we’re right, shall we?