That’s It — I’m Done Going Out For The Sake Of It

Photographed by Poppy Thorpe.
Since moving to London two years ago, I’ve found myself inordinately busy — nothing gives me more joy than blocking out my calendar and feeling #bookedandblessed. However, recently, this desire to constantly carpe diem has shown me that there are some experiences that just do not need to be seized.
A couple of weeks ago, following a particularly emotional afternoon and a couple of bottles of leftover birthday prosecco, I decided fuck it, why not say yes and go out to that last-minute date invite from the Hinge guy with 12 people in every pic. A cold shower and quick costume change later, I’m stood outside the pub, looking aimlessly for some man I could tell you absolutely nothing about. We bumble through the introductions and it’s clear he’s very drunk, not a huge faux pas but things quickly go from bad to worse as he calls me out on my “try-hard vocal fry” and “wannabe vibes”. One pint in and we quickly call it day.
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Gathering my belongings and regaining some composure, I’m approached by the barman — “Can I get you a drink?”, to which I obviously reply, yes. A few more drinks and fast forward to the next morning; sat on my flatmate’s bed as she tries to conceal the giant hickey on my neck ahead of a 1:1 with my manager. She tells me “it doesn’t look that bad” as I hide behind my turtleneck and lament the loss of my favourite pub because, obviously, I can never go there ever again. 
Sadly, this kind of thing isn’t an isolated incident — you’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now. No matter how many times I lose my keys and have to traipse to my friend’s house at 4 am or try to defend the man who stole my phone as “having his own shit to deal with”, I continue to operate under the belief that these nights, these cursed occasions, could really be it. Maybe it’s from watching too many romcoms. After all, Bridget never would’ve met Mark Darcy if she hadn't been at the Annual Turkey Curry Buffet, would she? With every reluctant ‘yes’, I’m dreaming of my own Richard Curtis moment, picturing myself cutting the wedding cake and gazing longingly into my soulmates’ eyes as I exclaim “and to think if I had just stayed in and watched Wild Child, I wouldn’t have bumped into this one.

With every reluctant ‘yes’, I’m dreaming of my own Richard Curtis moment, picturing myself cutting the wedding cake and gazing longingly into my soulmates’ eyes as I exclaim “and to think if I had just stayed in and watched Wild Child, I wouldn’t have bumped into this one.

I blame a lot of this erratic activity on an incessant need to make up for lost time, to prove to my past self how fun and interesting I now am and what a loser I once was. I don’t think this has been helped by COVID — we’ve been cooped up for long enough and the sense of urgency is palpable. There's a frenzy in the air, a desire not to let the years slip away with nothing to show for them.
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This feeling was perfectly encapsulated by my first post-lockdown night out, a ‘catch-up coffee’ which culminated in getting kicked out of the bar and having nowhere to stay, my friend and I banging on the door of every B&B in the area before crashing at friend’s parents’, who exclaimed the next morning “You both look dead”. I seem to accidentally accumulate a lot of stories like this, which I think on a subconscious level is what I want. The ‘do it for the plot’ narrative has lodged itself into my subconscious and I’m determined to subject myself to the trials and tribulations of doomed nights out in the naive hope that I’ll have the time of my life, get a good anecdote or even just a cool pic to add to my next artfully curated photo dump. 
Donna Sheridan is a key culprit here. I’ve drawn a lot of life-inspo from Mamma Mia, attempting to be young, wild and carefree with nothing but a suitcase and a cool breeze for company. But the thing is, I’m not cut out for it — a fact I was starkly reminded of when I lost my passport last summer after downing a €3 bottle of wine on a solo trip to the Cyclades. Having to retrace my steps covered in unspecified cuts and bruises the next morning was not really my idea of all-singing, all-dancing fun.
I’ve realised I’m reluctant to admit defeat — to have a bad time feels like a failure in the face of opportunity and I'm fun, I promise! However, even I can admit that trying to order an Uber with a smashed-up phone screen, shivering in my slutty Santa outfit while arguing with my (now ex) boyfriend was not the euphoric experience my teenage self was so desperately chasing. Perhaps, on that occasion, I should’ve just stayed home.
I’m sure I won’t listen to my own advice, but maybe next time the opportunity arises to go to some finance bro’s party in Putney or grab a drink with someone I have nothing in common with, I will politely decline. Instead, I’ll rack up my Deliveroo bill and watch St Trinians for the millionth time. This may not be quite the hedonistic tableau I foresaw for my 20s. However it sounds far more enjoyable than crying in a $120 Uber home as the cold light of day raises its ugly head across the horizon, Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic playing on Smooth FM as I hysterically repeat to myself “no ragrets, no ragrets.” 
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