This month I celebrated my 35th birthday. It feels a little odd saying that out loud, as I feel (and am often told that I look) like I’m still in my youthful 20s. Tell that to my eye cream.
The truth is, my life as a 35-year-old is nothing like the one I had imagined for myself when I was younger. I certainly didn’t expect to be single, still renting and unable to save for a deposit, clearing off my student debts and working in marketing. I had always imagined being married by now, living in my own house and pursuing a high-flying journalism career.
But just because things haven’t quite followed this trajectory I had mapped out in my head, it doesn’t mean that my life is any less fulfilling. It’s just not what I had expected.
And I’ve come to realise that’s actually a good thing. Who wants a life that’s predictable?
It’s the stuff you don’t plan for, the people you never expected to meet and the opportunities you didn’t envisage, that make things interesting and truly memorable.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned (she says, pretending to sound older and wiser), it’s that we have to concentrate on what we do have – a difficult ask with everyone flaunting their ‘amazing’ lives on social media.
We all crave something we don’t have and tend to overlook the here and now.
I guess my little nugget of wisdom to my younger self would be: appreciate all those things that can bring you happiness in your day-to-day life. For me, that’s family and friends, travelling and exploring new places, and writing. (My Instagram followers may want to throw food and cocktails into that mix…)
Admittedly, I don’t think I have the same fearlessness I possessed in my 20s; that irrepressible feeling that anything is possible.
I wish I still felt that way at times.
I play it safe these days. I avoid taking risks. And I’m sure I’m falling short of an accomplishment or two because of that pragmatic outlook.
But, I do still have my dreams and my wish list of things I want to see and do. I’d like to think I still have the optimism of my 18-year-old self, when I first moved to Newcastle, to help me on my journey in achieving those things.
So, here I am – 17 years later – still in this amazing city with lots of new memories to create and adventures to discover. I have no idea how the rest of my 30s will play out, but I’m pretty excited just thinking about it.
And hopefully, sometime soon, I’ll stop being asked for ID when I go out!
Until next time,