As ever, I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, but I could never quite figure out exactly what I wanted to say. I’ve been thinking about identity, life, goals, ambitions, hope and fears, but mostly about time. Essentially, I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. If I was happily married, now’s about the time I’d be off having an affair with a buff 25 year-old, and thinking of trading in the old Peugeot for something more sporty. Sadly (or maybe thankfully?), I’ve no husband to cheat on, and I can’t afford a new car. Anyway, if being obsessed with something to the point you can think of nothing else, waking up in the middle of the night worrying about it, and generally boring anyone that will listen with my fears counts, then yes, I’m having a midlife crisis. But why?! I hear you cry. Yep, you guessed it, next year I turn…..oh god, I can barely say it………forty! (Insert ‘anguish-faced’ smiley). In fact, I haven’t even turned 39 yet, but that hasn’t stopped me turning into a total drama queen.
Everything is about time. From the moment we’re born we’re on a countdown to the end of our lives, we just all carry different clocks. Time is everywhere: rushing to get to work, watching the clock until we can go home, then worrying about how much we can fit in before bedtime, or, more accurately, realising how much time we’ve wasted of an evening before it is lights out, and off to sleep until tomorrow. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…..
So, as I said, OBSESSED!
I’m not entirely sure when it started, but I can’t stop thinking about turning 40, of where I am in my life right now. I can remember being 29, and thinking that thought I’d soon be 30, that this was okay, and that actually I was quite looking forward to the new decade; I had a feeling I’d be happy in my 30s. And you know what? I am happy right now. Yet……ten years have passed in the blink of an eye, and what have I got to show for these years? When I think of what I’ve done in the last 8 years, nothing really sticks out. It is easy to think of my twenties: travelling and learning to fly; white water rafting, skydiving; great times with friends, old and new, and the promise of things to come. Somehow though, that change of decade brought with it a loss of excitement, of adventure, of time to enjoy and make the most of. It was unwittingly replaced with time to bide, time to waste. Time to put off until later, and the funny thing is I didn’t even realise I’d done it until now. Don’t get me wrong, as miserable as this post is sounding, I’m actually not miserable at all. Honestly! I love my job, I’m happy with my life, but in reality I’m just treading water. I’ve inadvertently put my life on hold, and I think if I don’t get it moving again soon, I might not be able to.
Why have I done this though? For ages I’ve told myself it wasn’t a choice. I’ve made difficult choices in my life that I have absolutely no regrets over – like deciding not to continue pursuing life as a pilot – yet I managed to convince myself that I am where I am now for some other reason, that it wasn’t a choice, that it just ‘happened’. Of course, that is ridiculous – doing nothing is a choice. I’ve let a fear of failure creep into my life and take over. I’ve never been good at dealing with failure, so I think I stopped even trying, because of course if you don’t try, you can’t fail!
Age, therefore, seems more pertinent now that ever before, and I think i’ve been caught between feeling that i’m 10 years younger than I actually am, yet being angry at myself for letting these years pass unmarked, untested. By this point in life I didn’t expect to still be on my own, paying off debts I shouldn’t have accumulated, and having thoughts about whether I’ll ever be able to buy my own house or flat. It feels as though everyone else’s life has accelerated off into the distance and i’m still treading water. I can see everyone else on the shore, making the most of their lives, achieving all the usual social landmarks (house, job (I have that one at least, yay!), marriage, kids….) and i’m trying to pretend i’m content to just bob about in the water, but actually, i’m getting tired, and I know that this isn’t enough anymore. I should say that it isn’t as if it it those specific things I want, or feel i’m missing out on, but I’ve been so overwhelmed by the fear of failure that I’ve essentially thought “what if I struggle to shore and eventually get there, but it still isn’t enough?”. The most important thing i’ve come to realise, however, is that aiming for that beach can’t be any worse than the water, so surely it is worth investigating? Also, no-one is keeping me there. There is no seaweed wrapped around my leg, preventing me from swimming off to catch up. It is up to me to swim off in whichever direction I please, towards something more fulfilling.
While this all sounds hopeless and despairing, it really isn’t. I think I had to get to this place, to dwell on my current life for a while to realise that coasting along isn’t what I want, and staying somewhere safe and quiet and easy holds no more appeal. I can feel i’m getting ready to let go of what has been, and look into the future and get excited again about what might be. The fear of failure is losing its grip. To fail, is to learn; it is not to stop or go backwards, but to move forward and with more purpose, more hope.
I read somewhere recently that people only fear death if they’ve not lived, and my immediate reaction was to think “i’m not scared of dying!”. I’ve always said that i’ve done so many of the things I wanted to in life, that if it suddenly ended, i’d have no regrets. That still holds true – I don’t regret anything i’ve done, but then a nagging feeling started to gnaw at me. I suddenly realised that I was starting to get scared, if not of dying, then of the unmarked passage of time. Of time spent, well, just waiting for more exciting things to happen. If i’m hit by a bus tomorrow, what are all the things i’ll have regretted NOT having done? Or more likely, if I continue to live an unhealthy life, what diseases are waiting round the corner to kick me in the ass? For the past few years, I’ve spent too much time dwelling on the past, and not much time working towards my future. So my obsessions this year, my desire to set loads of goals and reach them all, but then fail to reach any of them has actually been a good thing. Why? Well, it has made me refocus, re-examine my life and decide what I really want. Luckily for me, i’m already happy – I couldn’t have gotten to this point from a place of despair or depression – but i’m not wholly content, so for my future I just want to be healthy, get back out and explore the world, be adventurous, be at peace with myself and let go of the past so I can move towards the future.
This post might not even make sense to anyone reading it, and honest to god, if anyone is reading this line, then you deserve a medal, because I probably would have given up by now (I nearly did when I proof read it, and I wrote the bloody thing. Also, my proof reading sucks (get the caveats in while you can, I say). I just needed to write down these thoughts to get them out of my head, so to speak, so I can stop obsessing and start living. I’ve no idea what i’ll write next, but it won’t be quite so long and drawn out (hopefully). Getting all this crap off my chest feels good, like a bit of a weight off my shoulder, so to those who have persevered, thank-you, and well done! 🙂