A few times recently I’ve seen articles where people have written about “what message would you give to your younger self” if you were given the chance.
I’ve thought about that a lot recently. As a mother of two young children I’m all too aware that they have their whole lives ahead of them, full of opportunity and possibility. I on the otherhand have reached that point that some describe as “middle age”. I mean really who would ever invent such a term. It invokes panic, and use-by dates, and I’m past it, what could there ever be there to look forward to now that I’ve reached the dreaded “middle age”.
Well for starters I refuse to be defined by a societal definition of what I should be doing at this phase in life and focus on where I am, right here, right now, in my life.
You see when I was 15, I had this vision of what my life would look like. It looked something like this: finishing school, going to university, getting married, having a kid or 2 (starting at about age 26-28), parent… and then what….I guess I didn’t think too much beyond the having a kid piece. Along the way I also had the ususal teenage ambitions, like getting a boyfriend, first kiss, hanging with my friends and living the “girls can do anything” approach that was drummed into us at my girls only high school.
Is that what happened?
Not really, you see I didn’t anticipate that the “girls can do anything” attitude would have such a profound effect on my life. So instead my life panned out something like: finish school (with a kiss and a couple of not too serious boyfriends along the way), go to university (a few years of not worrying about too much at all), and then two years later finishing my post-graduate study in a whole new field (another story). So, 6 years after finishing school at the grand age of 24 years old I finally got my first full time job. (Who said it’s only millenials that don’t take life too seriously, us Gen-Xers can do it, and have done it too :))
Along the way I had a long term relationship, but that ended after 7-8 years and then at 31 years old, I found myself single, and living in a foreign land (I was living in London at the time). It was from here, I made the decision to come back to my roots. Back to NZ to build a new life. A life that wouldn’t quite look like the planned one, but I was home.
Back home in NZ, I found myself a flat to live in with a couple of friends, I found a good job, I made some new friends, I had a somewhat serious boyfriend but decided he wasn’t the one, bought myself a house, got myself a cat, and contemplated what the future might bring. Meanwhile it seemed that everyone was settled down and raising families, and here I was 36 and wondering if Mr Right will ever come along.
Then, lo and behold, life does work in strange ways, and so it was that the stars aligned, I attended a friend’s party, and a newly single man was also at the party. We hit it off, and not long after started dating, and life keeps on moving, and so it was that to be that at 39, I became a first time mother, and a second time mum at 42. Tomorrow our youngest turns 3, time has flown and I find myself reflecting on how time just flies, and wondering what the next few years will bring.
I’m ready to write the next chapter, after all I’m not middle age, ha, which means I’m in the perfect position to write the next chapter of my life, and with a house full of growing children it sure will be interesting.
Back to that note to my 15 year old self. It would read something like “It will all be ok, remain true to yourself and keep following your dreams. Have confidence in who you are and what you do. I know you lack it sometimes but everyone does, and for the most part you do live your life with confidence. Have integrity. You will always be growing and changing, and the unexpected will always happen, and remember the words your Gran wrote in your autograph book way back when you were about 12:
“Love Many, Trust Few, Always paddle your own canoe” (source unknown)