Not so long ago, 40 seemed really grown up. I assumed that by the time I reached that milestone I’d have my schizz together, my life would be planned out and I would be one of those responsible sorts who drinks sherry, can talk tax and knows how to fix stuff. Turns out I was wrong, totally wrong.
Here I stand with no assets, no career and no life plan. Heck, to be entirely morbid I have no death plan either and I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Luckily places like Sunlife realise that people like me exist and offer some useful information that could help the kids in the event of our untimely demise! I realise that despite being older, I am no wiser and my concerns as a 20 year old were exactly the same as my concerns as a 40 year old but for slightly different reasons.
When is payday?
At 20 I was renting my own home, studying at art college and working in a pub. I was living hand to mouth – constantly juggling money to make it through to the payday. I thought that by the time I was 40 I’d have savings and have grown out of this. Nope. I don’t ‘work’ in the conventional way and so don’t have a payday as such but I’m still fretting about getting paid, especially when my inbox is full of people wanting me to write for ‘exposure’ (that’s PR talk for ‘nothing’) as opposed to actual money.
Is everyone else having a better time than me?
Don’t get me wrong, in my twenties I was having my fair share of fun – well as much as a student can afford. I’ve always suffered from FOMO though, I’d spend an inordinate amount of time fretting that people were at better pubs than me, going to better gigs than me, hanging out with better people than me. HAVING MORE FUN THAN ME. I still have FOMO but now I wonder if other parents are going out more than us. If other families are getting along better than we are. Are other Mums crafting better than us? (the answer to that is yes, always yes).
Does my bum look big in this?
At 20 I was so concerned with how fat I was. Oh my word. What I’d give to be that ‘fat’ now! I knew nothing at the time. If only 20 year old me knew that 40 year old me would be sporting a mumtum and a half, then she could have not bothered worrying about her weight then at all!
Am I pregnant?
At 20, falling pregnant would have felt like the end of the world. I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be able to look after a child. It would have been awful. As a 40 year old I’m still not convinced I can look after the children I have already and the thought of falling pregnant with a third fills me with dread. Massive respect to all parents who can deal with 3+ children but it’s just not for me!
What do people think of me?
As a young, sprightly 20 year old I worried that people would underestimate me, write me off and treat me like a child. I feared people might not take me seriously. Now, as a woman pushing middle age, I worry people will underestimate me, write me off and treat me like an old lady. They might not take me seriously as I’m too past it to know what’s going on.
How old is old?
When I was 20, 40 was old. ‘Life begins at 40’ was bandied around as a way of making old people feel better about themselves right? Like, we all KNEW 40 was the beginning of past it. Now I’m here 40 doesn’t feel that old, it doesn’t even looks as old as it used to. In fact, I feel exactly as I did at 25, as we get older we change the goalposts. Life begins at 70 right?
What will I be when I grow up?
At 20, I wanted to make art that would be hung in galleries around the world. Art that would be appreciated by some and loathed by others. Art that would start conversation. I knew it wasn’t a viable life choice, it wasn’t realistic. I’d need to grow up and get a better plan. At 40 I want to create work that is read all around the world (the UK will do to be fair). I want to write things that are appreciated by some and loathed by others, either way creating a conversation. I know it’s not really a viable life choice. It’s quite unrealistic.
It seems no matter how old we are we never really grow up and our concerns never change.