Looking back at 40
A few weeks ago, I was 40. I didn’t think that I would be one for much of a retrospective, but I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my life so far, and in particular the last decade. I know people always say that your thirties is the decade where you begin to discover yourself somehow, and in a way that’s true, but working through depression, burnout and subsequent therapy didn’t really feel like I was discovering anything at the time.
I remember my 30th birthday. Taking a holiday from the cubicle where I worked and heading off to Spain to visit my dad and keeping my birthday quite low-key. I was 6 months into that cubicle job, depressed and not really knowing why. Looking back I was trying to deal with the burnout that had ended my previous retail management career, but of course in the midst of it, it was impossible to see. I just knew that I was miserable, and every day I dreaded heading to the train station to stand on the packed train full of commuters, to spend all day in an airless office, only to repeat it the next day, and the next. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the beginning of a rough 10 years of discovery. Here I am, at the end of those 10 years, definitely older, possibly a little wiser, but very much more at peace with myself. On my 40th birthday, I woke up in a tent in John O’Groats, a very different person to ten years ago. It’s been a ride, but a much-needed one.
This looking back seems to have brought with it some clarity regarding this blog. Up to now, there have been some tentative beginnings, a lot of big thinking, but as I know now, the actual action is something I find a little more difficult. I didn’t really know what I wanted the blog to encompass, or what I wanted to say. I spoke with my therapist about how I’ve started to feel more solid in myself, a little more whole, but also like I’m at a point in my life where I’m really just beginning. I think I want to explore this, to explore who I am. Who I am now, I mean. I want to be able to look back and learn from the experiences I’ve had, the things that made me. All of it, the good and bad, the enjoyable and heart-wrenching. I want to take what I’ve learnt, those bits of me, and carry them with me as I explore this new decade. It’s a rediscovery of sorts, a journey back to self, an unpeeling.
So that’s what I’ll write about. Rediscovery. Doing things and going places, learnings from life, the joy that nature brings me, aligning myself with the seasons. I’ve spent a lot of time not doing things, for various reasons, over my whole life, really. I spent a lot of time becoming somebody who I wasn’t, but I never really knew who I actually was, who I actually am. I think the process of discovery (or re-discovery) will be a lot of fun, and I am rather looking forward to it!
It’s weird, I spent a lot of time looking at Instagram accounts and blogs and regretting closing down my old blog a little. I wondered what other people were writing about, and what people wanted to see. I was full of envy for those blogs and accounts full of beautiful pictures and perfect moments. I started and stopped a hundred times, and I’ll probably start and stop a hundred times more. This feels authentic, though. What can you do, but write about what you know? This blog has to be me, and this time I hope I can strip away all of those things I think I should write about, and just write about the things I want to. Hopefully they are interesting for others, too.
So, this is me. Some words on a page, some thoughts in my mind. Time, tea and tales. All the learnings and unlearnings, the ups and downs, the ebb and flow. A new knowing, solid base, and a step forward. Here we begin.