I feel like I've come to just about everything late.
I had my first child at forty. Then another one at forty six. I only now feel like I'm comfortable with the clothes I wear and no longer have anything to prove (and have accepted that the clothes Kate Moss wears don't suit my body type- this took a long time). I've only just discovered the joy of having an allotment (actually let me re-phrase that- I've discovered the joy of TELLING people I have an allotment but haven't actually done anything IN the allotment). I still have an underlying need to be LIKED but I'm hoping this will disappear as I get older as it's really frustrating (and means much of my internal dialogue is about whether something I've said has been taken the wrong way, whether someone was looking at me weirdly when I said it- that kind of nonsense).
I spent eighteen years working in a market research agency. I can't quite believe that when I write it. That's a lifetime.
During that time I sat in meetings and doodled penises in the margins of my exercise book, I made cups of tea, listened to people moan about their lack of career progression, tried to think of clever things to say, day dreamed about being a writer, bought a massive amount of clothes (usually basing my look on anything I'd seen Kate Moss wearing), smoked a lot of cigarettes, drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of carbs, read a lot of books, cried a lot, made friends, met a man, stayed with that man, bought a flat, sold the flat, bought a house, got two cats, travelled all around the world, sat in hotels feeling lonely, sat in amazing restaurants feeling lonely, watched younger people come into that company and impress everyone, watched younger people come up and mess up very badly, watched women have children and then leave, watched some women have children and stay but feel very stretched and under pressure (essentially because a lot of aspects of my old job weren't compatible with having kids).
Two years ago everything changed when I was made redundant.
In many ways it was the best thing that every happened. I underwent an epiphany which coincided with being in my early forties. I realised that my time on the planet was finite, that my permanent headache wasn't something everyone experienced (and was probably the way I dealt with keeping a lid on things for so long and not telling everyone to FUCK OFF). I'd been living wrong for a long long time. I was caught in a common cycle- the one that many of us get caught in.
I worked to earn money. I spent that money making myself feel better about work. I became addicted to spending. I never saved anything because the minute I left work, I'd go on a spending spree. I had amazing holidays. I had a lot of nice face cream.
I had Botox because my face was so sad.
'What do you want to change about your face?' the beautician asked me when I went in to see her.
'I just look unhappy all the time,' I replied.
'Are you unhappy?' she asked.
'Yes. Well not all the time. I just want to look like I'm happier if that makes sense.'
'I can make you look happier,' she said.
Instead of going to the source of the unhappiness, I just dealt with the exterior. The Botox worked for a while but there was still a sad face behind it all. I often think that it doesn't matter what you do- your eyes will always betray the truth (have you ever looked at Kim Kardashian's eyes? Don't they actually look quite depressed despite the glow and youth?)
Now things have changed. I've spent the time since my redundancy doing what my former colleagues would have called a 'bricolage' career (basically a patchwork of lots of different things). Some marketing, some research, some writing- a lot of writing in fact - two books worth. I've had another baby. I sometimes worry about how old I'll be when this baby grows up but know I can only do my best right now and hope that I age well (and part of that ageing well is to do with doing the things I WANT to do rather than the things I feel I OUGHT to do).
I recently watched the film ROCKETMAN and there is a bit that really stuck. It was the bit where Elton John realises that he's spent his entire life trying to live up to his parents expectations and has never been the person he really wanted to be. I can't blame my parents entirely for the fact I tried to squeeze a square peg into a round hole but yes there must have been a bit of that.
The other thing was the fact that I grew up in the eighties when materialism was the only thing anyone was interested in- it was all about stuff and how much stuff you could accumulate. I am now starting again. It's late but not too late.
My aim is to ensure that the second stage of my life is less full of fuckwits and more full of fulfilment (and I swear more now I'm older). I'm unsure where I'm going to end up. I'm not sure how successful I'll be. I DO know I'll be happier. The weaning off spending money is hard. I spent a lot of time having money and not having it is unfamiliar. My knee jerk response to misery is buying stuff. I think that's true for most of us. The key thing however is that it's never too late.
In the morning I chant this to my increasingly sad expression (as the Botox wears off).
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO START OVER.
It's worth a try right? What's the alternative? More of the same?