Jan 20:15 Jonny - 'Birthmas' (1)

Jonny Nelson

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Happy January internet, I hope you’ve been keeping well.

This is usually the time of year when everyone’s on a bit of a downer, myself especially. The trees are either back in the attic or in the bin (or in the case of the estate I live on, in the middle of the pavement), everyone’s now poor, that festive period we spent the last 3 months of the year mentally gearing up for is now over, and by the second week into January, all hopes of sticking to resolutions have likely now been scuppered.

I, for instance, have already gone for my annual run, and it was just as awful as it was last year. I had to apply an overabundance of Deep Heat in the aftermath, and it invaded places it had no right to be. Here’s hoping the metabolism continues to hold out instead.

What depresses me most about this time of year is the fact that I’m older, a self-evident truth that we all technically deal with every second of every day, but for me, January is the slap-in-the-face reminder.

You see, I suffer from festive birthday syndrome, or Birthmas for short, an ailment reserved only for those born around Christmas (in my case December 27th). Everything you would presume about that particular affliction is true: You get joint presents, worth roughly the same as normal presents. There’s no one around to celebrate because everyone’s visiting family. The people who are around are either suffering from post-Christmas blues or intrepid pre-NYE frugality, and the few friends who can be coerced into partying, will inevitably class it as a Christmas get together, before willing to acknowledge your birthday at all.

It’s like a no man’s land of celebration. I’ve even thrown parties in the past where friends have stuck photo albums up on Facebook afterwards, cruelly entitled ‘Christmas party at Jonnys’, or ‘Christmas night out with the guys’ etc. Sods.

My advice to others would be not to do it to yourselves, just choose another month and make amends, it’s not like anyone will ask to see your birth certificate. That way, all you need to do is worry about the ageing thing, which brings me to my next bit.

I turned 26 this year, an age I’ve never given much thought to.

There’s a lot of preconceptions about being in your mid-20s, some see it as the time to start making some real money, following the training-wheel intern period of your post-university early 20s. For others, it’s the time to settle down and think about getting a mortgage and starting a family, I for one, am already godfather to 2 kids and about to become an uncle for the second time. For others it’s about travelling as much as possible whilst you don’t have too many responsibilities to keep you tied down. I’ve known some people, especially in this business, who’ve even saved the mid-20s for an epiphany of sorts, quitting work, breaking off from existing relationships and having another crack at the dream job, before 30 hits and your life is basically over (only joking).

Myself, I thought my 26th year of life would be another year I wanted back (not my 25th year as I’ve already had to argue with someone, I’m sure you can work it out). I tend to worry each year that another 12 months will have flown past without me managing to get any nearer towards where I wanted to go, in life, in work, in anything. However, for the first time in about 4 years, that’s not how this one felt.

This year I woke up in the same bed, in the same place, to the same job, the same friends and the same ambitions, but with vastly different expectations. Bigger, sexier ones.

Looking back at the last 12 months, I spent more time on trains than I ever felt possible, but for a change, they’ve taken me to some awesome places I actually wanted to go. No, maybe not the elusive holiday I would probably wrestle a wildebeest for at this point (5 1/2 years and counting), but some awesome places nonetheless.

There’s nothing worse than standing still and feeling like you’ve gone nowhere, but this last year has been distinctly more interesting than that. I’ve both ballsed up AND grabbed hold of the kinds of opportunities that I never thought I’d get. I’ve gotten better and wiser than I was before (well, wiser-ish), I managed to build on what I’d been doing for years, and actually moved a few strides forward in the process.

I’d use this opportunity to list some of the awesome things that I got to do this year, but I wouldn’t want to sound like an arsehole.

Anyhow, this all managed to culminate in me getting down to the last 2 people for something particularly epic, one of those opportunities that would have changed everything, not least, my lifestyle, job description, bank balance and geographical location.

A long story short, it didn’t come off, there was no fairy-tale ending as such (a common pitfall of this line of work), but it left me in a philosophical mood for the year ahead.

Going back 12 months, I probably wouldn’t have gotten through the door, let alone down to the last roll of the dice. God only knows what’s coming up next, but I can’t wait.

As for my next birthday, I’m contemplating bringing it forward by 6 months. It would mean skipping ahead a bit, but people do say age is just a number, and I look about 12 anyway.

As a treat for getting this far, here’s a picture of me, sharing some quiet time with my dog. He has epilepsy, which people think is adorable. People are weird like that. x