There's no denying Tori Bailey [Holly Bourne's fictional protagonist] has made a success of her life. She's the author of bestselling snarky memoir 'Who The F*ck Am I?' and a motivational speaker – and she’s only 31. She spends her days posting inspirational messages online to her legions of fans and travelling the country telling them to "live the life they need, not the life they think they need". But what her fans don’t see is that Tori’s outgrown her own advice. The boy she met at the end of her memoir – her 'happily-ever-after, Tom' – has not had sex with her in six months. Tori stays up late most nights, scrolling through social media while he sleeps next to her. Tom won’t even talk about getting engaged, but everyone around her is getting married and having babies. And then her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love.
Extract from Tori’s first draft of "What The F*ck Now?"
Hi, my name is Tori and I'm a fucking moron. I hate the Tori who wrote about her twenties. I hate the Tori who thought her thirties would be brilliant. I WANT MY TWENTIES BACK, OK? Why the fuck did I ever whinge about them? Oh, yes, of course it’s confusing and scary and your flat is shit and everyone seems to be having a better time than you. But you are free. You are so free. And every decision doesn’t have massive life-changing consequences. Your boyfriend is a little bit crap? Doesn’t matter! You’re not going to marry him, are you? Job not great? That’s alright! You can still shake the etch-a-sketch and start all over again. Everyone’s sporadically honest about how sad they are. You all get pissed together and it's someone's turn to cry in the gutter about how lost they feel. Yeah you lose a few cool points for admitting you’ve messed things up, but you all mess up. It's just a case of whose turn it is. But in your thirties it’s all game face. Yes, I’m so happy! Look how happy I am! Look at this huge milestone I’ve achieved! I’m not going to admit to you how terrified and trapped I feel! Because, in your thirties, the stakes suddenly get so high. You make decisions that are hard to get out of. So you pretend they’re the right ones. Your friends suddenly marry people they’ve only known a year and buy houses in areas that they always swore they wouldn’t and start spouting off shit about school catchment areas. And your eyebrows are raised and you’re thinking 'Are you happy? Really? REALLY?'
But they won’t break. They can't. They've paid stamp duty and do you have any idea how much stamp duty costs? Nobody will back down. Somehow the gusts of winds we rode on our twenties have landed us somewhere and we have to make this somewhere work. Because you can’t turn back the clock. It’s too late now to figure out whether you’re on the right gust or not. And you don’t want people to know you’re so stuck, and so scared and think it’s too late to get yourself out of this situation.
You don’t want to fail when everyone else is supposedly thriving. And, you are happy, right? Sometimes you’re happy, anyway. And isn’t that what happiness is? Fleeting moments, rather than a permanent state of euphoria. And as long as it looks OK on the outside who cares right? And, you're confident in who you are now. That is right. That is the one pay-off you don't want to exchange for your twenties. But that sometimes makes it worse because you know who you are and you know this is wrong and yet you’re doing it anyway and fucking hell Tor what the fuck are you writing? You’re so unhappy Tor. You are so fucking shitting unhappy. WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS TOR? WHY WON'T YOU LEAVE TOM? YOU NEED TO LEAVE TOM. YOU KNOW YOU DO, SO WHY THE FUCK AREN'T YOU LEAVING? WHERE THE FUCKING FUCK IS YOUR FUCKING AGENCY YOU FUCKING SCARED MESS?