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! 🙂
12 thoughts on “The Countdown”
I know how you feel.
I think I get this … being 40 is really great, let me tell you!! I’m intrigued to read the next installment. Does any of us know what we really want? Apart from a dark Toblerone, that is? 🙂
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Dark? What kind of madness is this? Must be another crazy 40s thing. Milk Toblerone all the way!!! 😉 xx
Writing your thoughts out like this doesn’t have to make sense. Just by getting it written down into some form of linguistic pattern of words and grammatical rules, is another way of organising your thoughts in your head. And it can help immensely. What matters is that it makes sense to you.
Also, I know of only a fraction of the things you have likely accomplished in your 30s, and I’m still impressed. You completed at least one marathon and every distance in between, got a sparkling new job, had a fecking impressive go at an Ironman and have done a fair few sportives (one of which was Duke’s pass where you were most fortunate enough to meet me). But what impresses me most about you is what you have given to people and how you have enriched their lives. You have supported and encouraged me personally through 2,5 ironmans, and I know I couldn’t have done it without your support and advice. You have encouraged and supported many more in the countless events you travel the country to attend. That means so much to me, and others. You give blood, you volunteer at the Samaritans. You give back to people 100 times more than me and most people I know.
You’re a pretty amazing woman. And I feel extremely lucky to know you and call you my friend.
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Awww, you’re a wee smasher Ironbaws, thanks for the lovely comment 🙂 Even if you are a bawbag, i’m still awfie glad yir ma wee pal too xxxx
Oh yes, turning 40 can mess with your head. I attempted to run a marathon for mine. I should have had the affair with the buff 25 year old, it might have been less painful!
Hahaha, well i can try and achieve that goal on your behalf if you wish? More chance of that than me doing another marathon next year 😉 xx
I for one definitely don’t think that you have been treading water. I still remember the first time I met you in Run4It when we went to hear someone – I can’t remember who – talk about triathlon training and you were preparing for your first half middle distance race. Since then you have gone on to do races and distances that turn me pale just thinking about. Nothing is too big a challenge for you. You moved “down south” for a new job and have a huge circle of people who care about you (assuming that “bawbag” is a term of endearment that never made it as far north as my wee part of the world!) and would be there for you the moment you said that you needed them to laugh with/cry with/cheer you on. So maybe you spent your 20s up in the air (literally) and your 30s down on the ground (also literally) but if you want to have a mid-life crisis of sorts, then why not?! It never seems to go out of fashion (just think of the number of MAMILs you see pedalling around)!
Not following the conventional route to 40 does not equal treading water. In my book, you have outstripped everyone else long ago. Go Lee! 🙂
Gosh, so many lovely comments! Thank-you hun 🙂 You’re right, it is easy to forget all the great things – all my pals that I met initially through triathlon/running (of which you are one!) are such a big part of my life, it’s easy to take it all for granted. My 30s would have been really dull if not for all of you lot! xxx
Waller, I’m going to give you a good slap on the chops when I see you.
YOU are a medical miracle. You have self taught amnesia.
As your friend Vicki says treading water doesn’t really exist with you. God help all those poor people that really do tread water if they read this.
You are AMAZING and enrich the lives of all who know you (yes, writing this does pain me).
In terms of life achievements you are off the scale. You are more educated than anyone I know. Medal for most qualifications winging its way to you.
You have done EVERYTHING. Even in your 30’s.
Traveling, living abroad, open uni, charity work, arts courses, massage…blah de blah (too much typing to list)
You have travelled more than most will in a lifetime.
You are a qualified commercial pilot (ok lapsed, but let’s not argue about spilt milk).
All the things Tracey and all your other friends says (I can’t be assed to repeat as you will merely forget).
Instead of focusing on the 2% negative (chocolate and new life 6,000,000,876,654,543,098 ‘fails’).
YOU REALLY ARE HAVING A MID LIFE CRISIS
Let’s get focused on the 98% positive. You are one in a million. In fact , you are one in 6,000,000,876,654,543,098.
So please, can we get the FRVKING 40th parties planned so we can all celebrate you and your 40th with you.
One has to have lots of cupcakes with icing on saying what you want to do in your 40s. Cake objectives. We take pics and as you complete you up load on facebook.
One has to be abroad. I need a good excuse to go somewhere new (this is, I know a blatant lie, but back to spilt milk…).
Even blog writing, you write a fantastically funny blog.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU DONT DO OR DO WELL????
Love ya, ya beetch.
PS Get the positivity sorted or my selling you for a camel next month isn’t going to go so well
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Hahahahaha, this has really mde me laugh beeatch face. It must have pained you in the extreme to write this, in fact, has someone got a gun to your head?? Hehehehe, just kidding. You’re right, I should be listing all the positives, and actually as much for reminding myself of all the things i’ve done, than thinking what i’ve not. Yeah need to plan a party or something for the big 4-0. Thanks hen. I may need to renege on my deal with that goat farmer, and keep yut for a while longer…. xxxx
p.s. i realise this post sounds as though i’m totally depressed, but i’m not at all, just obsessed with the birthday thing, hehehe
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