Danielle with her children, Kale & Ruby.
At 15, I was the girl, we all knew one, you know the girl with the Bjork styled hair, the glitter for eye shadow and Dr. Martens. At one point, I even had a bananas in pajamas backpack – a real trend setter. I styled my outfits based on Courtney Love, and her band of misfits and had every hope of making it big in the world. Doing what, well that was not the point, I was just going to be big time. I was the girl who seemed to know everything there was to know. I knew who the cool kids were at school, and what boy I thought was my soul mate. I categorically assumed my parents knew nothing about me, and that Daniel from Silverchair had all the right notes to make any woman swoon. What more did I really need to know? I knew what I wanted out of life and how to get it. How wrong was I (particularly on the point of Daniel Johns)......
By the time I was 21 I had moved from my small country town to the big smoke, and then back again. I thought I was a local celebrity on my return as I had escaped the small town and made it back - alive. I claimed that I chose (it wasn't a choice, more so a necessity for financial survival - but when the story is so good, you don't let people know the finer points) to come home, sharing my stories of the big city with the 'poor folk' who were not as brave to take that jump. I was an idiot. A self centered idiot to be precise, but apparently, this is a characteristic of being 21, similar to that of the terrible twos. Yes, there were times I lived off 2-minute noodles and dry toast, but shit was not that tough. I ALWAYS managed to go out and I was never dehydrated, I made sure I had the best of the best and had zero regrets about it all. The tough ones were actually the ones that did not take that jump. They stayed behind and got their shit together but were ridiculed for doing it - being 21 is hectic. I still dreamed of making it big. I had many ideas, none of them even remotely good. In hindsight I am glad I never pursued my short-lived dream of acting, dancing or singing, as this would have been a real crime against humanity – my talents certainly do not lie in these areas.
At 25, I realized that at 15 I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. By 25 the allure of being 'a grown up' very quickly grew thin and friendships faded. I was devastated. Friends who I had 'forever' went forging ahead on new adventures and here I was, forced to find new people to listen to my crap. It was rough. Being an adult at 15 years old, I thought was staying up all night watching trashy TV, eating what ever the hell I wanted and blowing all my cash on handbags. That does not happen in the real world, well at least not in the world I lived in. What I would have given at 25, to be 18 again living in the moment and going on a three day bender without consequence. The need for the weekly 'goon of fortune' gatherings were replaced by dinner parties and short weekends away with girlfriends. At 25 a three day bender involved zero alcohol, yet doing 100 loads of washing on a Sunday afternoon as I was working two jobs and didn't have time to do shit, let alone eat junk and watch TV all night. And cash to blow on handbags, I had none. I remember thinking is this really adulthood? The days of spending to excess and looking prim were few and far between. I kept dragging that dream of making big around with me, and at this point I decided I was going to go into Millinery. I did not know how to sew, own a sewing machine or had even stitched a button. Needless to say that dream died as quickly as it began.
As quickly as 15 turned to 21, I was approaching 30. I was told turning 30 was becoming. Well, it was not becoming. A few times, I was so desperate to get back into my 20's and stay there I fell flat on my face. It was not pretty, I cried for days. These exact words were said to me at a music festival; "its frothing that old chicks like you still come to gigs like this" my heart broke that day, I had become everything I didn't want to be, old and fucking boring. Life was confusing, and to top it off, I still did not have the cash to buy those handbags. They say being a teenager is awkward, but I think 29 is the worst. I spent my 30th birthday in Vegas under the pretense that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so technically I had another 12 months to live like a 29 year old. My real 30th never happened, according to my 30-year-old self. Everyday I woke up feeling more unsuccessful than the day before, and the big time was still a very distant dream. Life was throwing me lemons, but I certainly was not making lemonade. My 30 ‘s were really the time to get my shit together.
At 35, I do not wear Dr. Martens, or have a face full of glitter but, I am that 15-year-old girl, dreaming big without reservation. I have spent the last 20 years trying to figure out how to make it in the world, when what I didn't realise was, the world doesn't give a flying fuck about me and what I want, in actual fact the world is only as tough as you make it. I'm not saying to go out on a three day bender, and spend the last cent you have on a new Louis is the way to go, but for 20 years I have been sitting back waiting for 'it' to come my way. Unbeknownst to me, I have already made it. I have family that supports my crazy, a working functional mind, my health and the ability to dream. All that is left to happen is for Daniel Johns to walk through the door and serenade me – which for the record I hope never happens. Whilst I have not figured out what I want to be when I grow up, I have realised that we are growing up every day, so why force something to happen? So at 35, I am celebrating all that's been, could have been and what is yet to come. Dream big, do not stop learning or wanting more. Do not be afraid to get old, and grow every day.
35 THINGS I HAVE LEARNT BY 35: DANIELLE TOWNSEND-SAW
1. Embrace friendships. Without my usual go-to girls, I would be lost on a daily basis. Every day without fail, I choose one lucky sucker to annoy with whatever catastrophe is happening in my life. These chosen few, are truly thick and thin kind of stuff. Open your eyes and your heart, you honestly find true friends in the strangest of places. I call them my visionaries.
2. Nice guys always finish last - trip, use your elbows, pull hair. If there is something you want in life fight for it. The reward is so much greater in the end.
3. I always wanted to be rich beyond my wildest dreams. However being rich does not refer to how much money you have. Being rich to me is how you hold yourself. Money does not bring happiness; in saying that though, I have never seen anyone unhappy on a jet ski, so might have to think that one over a bit more.
4. Karma is real and she is a total bitch. Be kind to one another, or fear her wrath.
5. Say NO more often! The only person you let down is yourself if you keep saying yes all the time. Make other people do the stuff they do not want to do.
6. Accept offers of help. Women often think they can do it all. I have learnt to call bullshit. If help is offered take it up, be gracious and accept that we cannot do it all.
7. Tights are not pants. No further explanation is needed.
8. Do not keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses are nothing but trouble; they lead you down the garden path of no return. Keep up with you. If you are anything like me, that is a task and a half at most times.
9. See the world, or at least your own backyard. Experience as much culture as you can.
10. Have conversations with random people. You will learn so much. Just be mindful of the crazy ones. Particularly the lady at circular quay that licks your elbows if you make eye contact. Trust me.
11. Apply for jobs regularly even if you do not want a change. It is good to know your self worth.
12. If you stop going out with friends they will stop inviting you.
13. Buy those shoes – DO NOT hesitate. Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.
14. Life’s greatest lessons are usually learnt at the worst possible time, following the worst possible mistake. Embrace them and learn. Own every step.
15. Even if your active wear is so on point and you define it as the greatest achievement in life since Justin and Britney were dating - if you are not going to the gym or coming home from the gym, it does not count for clothes to be worn in the outside world. EVER.
16. Always trust your first instincts. Usually your head is clouded and your heart blind, but your gut will tell you if something is wrong.
17. Take out those extensions – it is not 2001.
18. If Trent Reznor ever knocks at your door and offers you anything – take it. That man is God.
19. Do not believe or rely on luck. Success is not made from luck. Believe in hard work and good choices.
20. In relationships, always remember, no shirt, no shoes, no dice. ALWAYS.
21. Fashion sense is not a gift; it is something learnt usually following big mistakes. At 15, it is OK to wear pigtails and glitter; at 35, this is usually a sign of an imminent breakdown.
22. Sometimes life can be quiet. Embrace these periods of still. If you are really lonely, dim the lights and put on “I know what you did last summer” you wont feel alone or calm for long.
23. Doors will open for those who are brave enough to knock. Bang down that door and invite yourself in for a cup of tea.
24. The great Winston Churchill once said, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes”. As hard as it is to acknowledge fools as being right, sometimes we just have to, and move on.
25. Do not be caught up in ‘more than’ or ‘less than’ bullshit. Be grateful for all that you have or do not have. There is always someone out there in the world doing it much tougher than yourself and most likely has less handbags.
26. Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. There is nothing that a Taylor Swift album cannot fix.
27. If you feel something, say it. Tell those closest that you love them, tell someone who is dragging you down to go to hell. Speak up and let it out. You never know when it will be too late.
28. Love whole-heartedly and without reservation. Love often shows itself in places we will never imagine. "People don’t write sonnets about being compatible, or novels about shared life goals and stimulating conversation. The great loves are the crazy ones.” – Blair Waldorf
29. Write your own story. Life is not a fairytale and happy-endings are few and far between. No ending is ever perfect.
30. Your 30’s are about reaching an age where you wake up at the same time you would have once gone to sleep after a big Saturday night. It is truly inspiring how many people are out of bed at that hour. Who would have thought that the world functions at 7am on a Sunday morning? Embrace early nights and mornings. Your body and mind will love you for it.
31. Exercise is not for everyone. Believe me, I have tried everything; in 35 years, I have decided that the only cardio I am good at is jumping to conclusions, carrying things too far and pushing my luck. I am one of the fittest people I know just from these three things.
32. Life without passion is just living. Find your passion. One’s passion is often found over a few too many wines with girlfriends.
33. Again, tights are not pants. I believe this is so important and deserves two mentions. Listen ladies.
34. Be true to yourself. “It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not” – Kurt Cobain.
35. Never give up on your dream, no matter how far fetched it may seem. Dreams do not have an expiration date. Whether it comes at 15 or 65, it will come if you want it to. The greatest things in life take time.