Dolly Alderton's 'Everything I know about love': Being in your twenties, your sense of self and friendship, a review.

June 1, 2018

 

After reading Dolly Alderton's Everything I know about love I feel ready to do it now. I don't know what it is, but I am ready.

 

Human beings are incredibly narcissistic. We are the centre of our own novel, a story is constantly being written by the narrative voice in our head, an egotistical self-centred act that leaves us feeling like we are the only ones living the life we are living right now, that no one else quite knows or understands exactly how we feel, and no amount of talking or sharing will solve this because we have been told we are so indefinitely unique to ourselves.

 

This, of course, is bullshit.

 

As Dolly Alderton puts it "I am Generation Sense of Self, this is what we do. We have been filling in 'About Me' sections since 2006. I thought I was the most sensiest of selfish of anyone I knew." 

 

And she's right, us millennials, and younger, have been raised and taught how to sell ourselves, how to make ourselves stand out on that university application form, how to write a unique cover letter for that internship, whats best to include on your CV and what not to mention, and how to write a witty tinder bio that will get you that date - my last one being "Feminist in the streets, lover of deeply misogynistic rap music in the sheets".

 

When I was seven-teen, I spent a good chunk of my monthly part-time wages on what was the beginning of my obsessive need to hoard books written by feminists. Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman, along with a more indie book titled Cunt: A Declaration of Independence (evidently chosen by the the use of the word cunt) by Inga Muscio shaped my early thoughts and feelings of womanhood, and I wanted people to know about it.

 

How cool I was! How self-aware! No one else at school my age was reading the same books as me. I was the only one. I was different. I was unique. I was just like the other thousands of girls in their teenage years who were embarking on a self-discovery of feminist texts. 

 

I had an epiphany on finishing Dolly's book - a book that I purchased because one of my favourite Instagrammers posted about it - that actually, I'm not the only person in the world who is exactly like me; I'm not the only one who worries about their weight, worries about boys, gets too drunk every weekend, is petrified of commitment, reads books and doesn't read books, shops too much, and has no idea what to do with their life, so why is it that I'm constantly weighted with an anxiety of feeling like I'm the only person going through this? 

 

Dolly Alderton studied English literature at university, just as I did and Dolly then went on to study a masters in Journalism, (hopefully) just as I will. Dolly writes about love, and more realistically, her failings in that department: the awkward one night stands, the falling in love with a guy she's never met, the over-romanticisation of a holiday romance, the gut wrenching belief that that cool artsy intelligent guy WILL be the one. Dolly Alderton is me. 

 

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Dolly for saving me a few hundred pounds on a therapist, because unlike her, I have this book, and now know the solution to not having my 'Sense of self', and that is knowing that not only am I not the only person who feels like this, but if I concentrate on what I am doing instead of what I am not, I will get so much further in life. 

 

This is a book about a young woman's quest to find love. A bundle of stories that lead Dolly to the conclusion that she has in fact had that love all along, and its a strong love, a well established and never flailing love, she has had friendship. 

 

The disjointed nature of this memoir, jumping from event to story, never quite knowing what is happening at what period of her life stresses the importance of the story it is trying to tell. In Everything I know about love, it doesn't matter who Dolly is dating when Farly gets engaged, it doesn't matter if Dolly is single when India decides to move out, what matters is the bond that she has with these women, and the lessons that it teaches her about herself.

 

Everything I know about love literally takes you on a self discovery of not only why Dolly acts the way she does, but why you, the reader does too, why most women in their twenties do. In a world of women who read the same books, listen to the same podcasts, watch the same TV shows, have the same opinions, its important that we know that actually we aren't all that important, whether we 'make it' or not won't really change the world, if we don't go out and find the cure for cancer, someone else ultimately will.

 

When you stop valuing yourself so highly, your anxieties around your sense of self will go away, as Dolly's therapist says, "No one is talking about you, you're not all that interesting Dolly." 

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