On the eve of my 30th this now seems absurd to me. I feel as though I’m only just getting stuff figured out and have come to realise that doubt and uncertainty will never truly go away. One goal on my list was to own my own house. I’ve done this this but last week I found out the husband is being made redundant. We’ll be fine, but it highlights the naive simplicity of a list of goals to achieve which will mean you’re sorted. Even if we didn’t have an oh-gosh-that-is-a-very-long-time kind of mortgage there’d be all the costs associated with owning and running a house.
There’s a scene in the first episode of Lost where upon their speaking for the first time Jack tells Kate about his panic on the operating table when something went wrong with a patient. He allowed himself a certain amount of time to panic then just got on with fixing her.
That is a bit how I’ve been viewing my twenties as they’ve neared to an end. There have been mad times (the party girl challenge*) and bad times (I have been too far too many funerals) and much of it undercut with a sense of panic. OCD is an anxiety disorder and I have spent much of the last decade trying to juggle things and get everything perfect.
I’ve been telling myself as the weeks go by that I’ll let myself worry until I’m 30 but then I need to just get on. Very little planning has gone into the weekend’s party but I’ve been forcing a c’est la vie attitude. Twice the plans for the cake have fallen through and my mum now has a final solution (in a nice way, not a Nazi way) and I’ve not even asked for details.
Obviously my OCD isn’t going to disappear because I’ve willed it so but I do believe I can control my reaction to it. After all, I’ve never let fear stop me from doing something (I fear being scared of embracing life more than I fear any challenge) so if I’m going to forge ahead I may as well try to see the anxious thought and then see it on its way rather than do the same actions but let it steal a little of my sunshine.
I’m excited about turning 30. It all got very real when my mum arrived on my birthday with a helium balloon with big numbers on it. Big birthdays definitely feel different. I suppose that’s because the force you to reflect. That can either be positive or not. Having had my wild child days and travels and now being in a settled place that supports my reflection being positive. Perhaps if I hadn’t travelled or was in a less happy place I might fear my life was passing me by. I remember hating turning 23 – I felt I was rushing towards my mid-twenties and had nothing to show for it.
So I don’t feel properly adult but I do feel more like I’ve figured out what it means to be an adult. It’s less about having the answers than it is about having a strategy. When we heard about the redundancy we didn’t know what we were going to do but we did have a plan. It started small (a couple of beers and a notepad and pen in the garden) but we knew it would develop.
I’ve been alive for enough years to know that a few years down the line I’ll be looking back on this as one of many hurdles that have been scaled. Things just don’t seem to be as big as they used to be when I was younger (my seven month pregnancy belly excluded). Even when in the midst of crisis experience is saying we’ll get through it.
I’m going to be so placid when I turn 50!
In the meantime there’s something to start thinking about. Forty things to do before I’m 40!
There are a few things left on the old list but it’s largely underway. I’ve nearly finished cooking the different cuts of the pig I bought and baby is on his way.
1) Publish a book
2) Have a baby
3) Cook a multibird roast
4) Go to an airport and take a flight chosen on the spot
5) Watch a sunset and sun rise without going to bed
6) Make a film or documentary
7) Ride a motorcycle
8) Buy an entire animal and cook it
The new list won’t carry any of these things over. I suppose that gives me 48 things to do but hey, I have 10 years in which to do it all!
* The party girl challenge was something I did aged 25. I had recently moved to Malaysia and didn’t really know anyone so for one week I vowed to go out every day. I met the girl I went on to spend the most time with that week. I also got really stuck for options and nearly went country dancing one night. Fortunately fate intervened and I met a rather dishy German stockbroker.