As a regular listener to The High Low podcast hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, I was very aware of Dolly’s book Everything I Know About Love coming to publication in 2018. It has been extremely popular, quickly becoming a Sunday Times bestseller, prompting a UK live tour at theatres up and down the country. Every time I have checked the Oxfordshire libraries catalogue, each copy of the book is constantly on loan with a waiting list.
The book traces the experimental and adventurous path of late teens to early twenties, crashing into adulthood with the grace of a bull in a china shop. Being one year older than Dolly, a lot of the book resonated with me. We were the generation that grew up with dial-up internet, MSN and MySpace. I was in my first year of university when Facebook arrived (and at the time was solely for colleges). I knew the fierce group of loud, drunk uni girls that Dolly described, because I was in one of those groups myself. We are as much a tribe now as we were then, (albeit with a greatly reduced liver capacity and preference for lights out by 10pm).
The book served as a wonderful reminder to me of the fantastic female friendships I have made in my life, but also the importance of finding your sense of self. I have often felt like I am lurching through life while others glide seamlessly from milestone to milestone. Dolly’s book proved that actually, a lot of us are lurchers, and life is anything but linear. Things won’t go to plan and you will be blindsided and thrown curve-balls at every step.
I read this book in two days. In those two days I reminisced about the nostalgia of my early twenties. I took stock of the deep and wonderful friendships I have, and let go of the ones that have faded. I laughed out loud at the all too familiar hen party/wedding/baby shower emails. I wiped tears away on my lunch break reading the beautiful chapter Florence. And finally, I re-read each of the Everything I Know sections: Teenager, Twenty-one, Twenty-five, Twenty-eight and Thirty as affirmations.
‘It may seem that life is difficult at times but really it’s as simple as breathing in and out,’ she read. ‘Rip open hearts with your fury and tear down egos with your modesty. Be the person you wish you could be, not the person you feel you are doomed to be. Let yourself run away with your feelings. You were made so that someone could love you. Let them love you.’
Florence Kleiner, Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton