How do you feel when someone tells you "you've got your whole life ahead of you?"
I hope I'm not alone with this - I feel absolutely terrified. There is an internal howl of panic and my subconscious screeches: "What am I going to do for the rest of my life?"
I run through a list of possible future scenarios. I worry I should have a plan but when I try to make one I freak myself out even more. It takes quite some time for my thoughts to settle. I try to remind myself whoever told me "I've got my whole life ahead of me" probably meant to be reassuring.
"It's fine," I tell myself, "It will work out. Probably."
Here is where I would like to introduce "Future Ellie" - she has her life under control and knows exactly what she's doing. When I say future I'm not just talking about an indefinite number of years ahead - it could just be tomorrow morning and she's got out of bed in time to have breakfast and quite possibly has done some yoga.
Fast forward to next month - she'll have started regular exercise and shorthand practice.
If you are wondering about Future Ellie in the years ahead, of course she's doing great. She's got a book published, is married and dare I say it she might even have children. She fits in time for the gym, has five portions of fruit and veg a day and keeps on top of her bills. Knowing her, she probably goes out to brunch with her book club.
My confidence is my future self falters when I realise... it's me. I am going to become that person - whether it's in a few hours or years - I'm going to have that life and responsibility.
This brings us full circle and all of the worry about filling a life (all being well with health and assuming I've got a lot of years to fill) kicks back in. Now it's not only worries for the future but the present, too.
I am young now. Am I living life to the full? Am I making the most of my youth? Can I still class myself as youth? Oh God.
Two years down the line from writing my first blog entry on here and it seems I'm still in a similar line of thinking: am I making the most of being young before having more responsibility?
I want to look back at my life and be satisfied with it. I don't want to have the opposite problem I'm currently facing - where my future self looks back at my past self with despair, thinking I should have been better and pointing out everything I could have done.
Of course, there is a solution but I find it very hard to do - I should stop worrying so much and just focus on my current self. Stop putting so much pressure on time, urging it to slow down or speed up, when it does its own thing anyway.
When someone next says to me: "You've got your whole life ahead of you," I will do my best not to have yet another quarter-life crisis.
Instead, I will try to tell to tell myself this: I cannot anticipate what will happen to me - be it tomorrow, this time next year or ten years from now. Having my life ahead of me does not mean I have to know what's coming. No matter how much I worry, stress, try to plan or whatever else, I simply will not know.
Now I am trying to think of my life as a book and each day is a page - as tempting as it to skip ahead - I want to experience how the story unfolds.