Heading into your mid-to-late twenties is hard. You’ve finished education and left the comfort of your family home. You’re expected to be an adult. (Gasp!) And you’re far too old to be singing and dancing to Taylor Swift’s 22. (Sad!) Add to this the cultural phenomenon of the 27 Club – the coincidental deaths of Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Amy Winehouse, who all died aged 27 – and the thought of getting older is enough to scare anybody.
But while you might think you’re heading into a quarter-life crisis, I’m here to tell you that it gets better.
According to astrology, 27 is an important age and sets the stage for the Saturn Return, when Saturn completes its orbit around the sun and returns it to the exact point it was when we were born. Between the ages of 27 and 30, we will finally make conscious decisions, behave with total maturity (ish) and discover our purpose in life. Significant events are meant to happen, such as getting married, moving abroad, changing careers or ending a relationship.
27 was the year I realised I was That Bitch. I found a great group of friends. My career skyrocketed. After six years of singledom, I secured myself a pandemic bae. And, to my parent’s surprise, I also woke up that day deciding to get my shit together and move out.
I can’t pinpoint a moment before I turned 27 that was leading up to that point, but in 2020, when the world was grappling with a global pandemic, I knew it was the year of *Kylie Jenner voice* realising things. I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted out of life and intended to get it: a good salary, boundaries, time for myself, and a new flat.
If you still think I’m chatting shit, take it from our very own Consultant Editor, Craig McLean, who said he got his first big career break at the tender age of 27. “A pal on a London music magazine asked me to apply to be a Deputy Editor at a style magazine he was launching,” the now 50-year-old tells me. “I went for it, got it, and hit the road south. I landed in London at a time of foaming cultural innovation and excitement and took to it like a duck to vodka.”
Craig, who lived in Edinburgh at the time, five years after he had graduated from the city’s university, credits his 27th birthday for allowing him to reach for the stars. “Had I moved to London before then, I didn’t think I’d have survived. Not literally – I wasn’t a character in an Irvine Welsh story,” he jests. “But prior to that age, I wasn’t prepared for proper adventure and (sheepish admission) proper responsibility. Now, though, I was ready to be a grown-up – even if that meant, just occasionally, still acting like a giddy child.”
For 38-year-old Stirling native James Martin, 27 was the year he was made redundant from his factory job and nearly lost his flat. “But, at the same time, I started doing things that my heart was in,” he explains. “I started putting my energy into finding work bouncing for pubs and clubs and I wasn’t career-focused anymore.” Coyle is now a mature student, studying philosophy at a university in Scotland and says he doesn’t stress about his future as much as he did in his early twenties. “The turning point was my unhappiness. When I felt unhappy, I knew things had to change.”
The pandemic alone has taught us the importance of what really matters to us, in what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation”, where thousands of people have quit their jobs to pursue their passions.
It’s something that Sahara, 27, from London knows all too well. “Going into lockdown I was 25, close to turning 26 and it still felt like I had loads of time to figure things out,” she says. “I had just started a new relationship with my friend of 10 years and had started a new job. But then the pandemic happened and everything stagnated.
“When I turned 27 in April of this year, it suddenly felt like all that time I thought I had, was quickly disappearing. I never planned to stay in the publishing industry I’m currently in, but reaching 27 made me realise I actually want to be challenged by my job, rather than enduring it.”
Sahara tells me that she initially worried about ageing and the responsibilities that came with that. But turning 27 changed her outlook. “Everyone says that your twenties are for having fun and figuring stuff out, but I feel like I’ve reached the end of that now.”
While it’s not expected of you to get married and live happily ever after 27, the significance of the year can include small differences to your lifestyle too. “I gave up cigarettes when I was 27,” 32-year-old Davy Reed says. “I honestly used to have one on my way to work every day and was known by friends for loving cigarettes.” The turning point? “I got told off by a really mean GP. Then I went to Glastonbury later that week and decided to smoke as much as possible there in the hope that I’d not want to afterwards.” And it worked. “The last one I ever had was when I picked up my tent on the final morning. It was disgusting.”
Still need convincing? Journalist Olive, who turned 27 this year, and was initially worried about “being old” said that she suddenly became very unaware that she was unfit. “Going to the gym or for a long run is my idea of hell, but growing up, I always danced so I decided to pick it back up… kind of,” she says. “I enrolled myself on a pole dancing course, because why the hell not? Soon after, I signed up for gymnastics and became addicted to ClassPass.
“Now, I’m extremely far away from J‑Lo’s opening scene in Hustlers, but I am noticing a big difference in my energy levels and overall outlook on life. I’m finding having personal goals outside of my career, such as mastering a round-off or perfecting my carousel spin, is giving me a greater sense of work-life balance.”
So there we have it. Celebrating a year older every year will always come with its fears, but – as my friends back home in Essex will say – The Only Way Is Up, baby.