So, another year, another birthday. I’m ok about it, no really I am. It doesn’t end in a 5 or a 0, so it’s actually not that bad. I’m never going to love birthdays though. Their akin to New Year’s Eve for me; enforced merriment and get togethers when actually you just want to take a step back into “Not-Today-Ville.” It’s around the corner, but not yet here. It like a rollercoaster – all this build up and then just as suddenly over and you’re a year and a day older . . . two days, three.
OK, I’m overthinking it, I know, you don’t have to tell me. It’s just whenever the “B” word comes up I think of previous years – arguments, sense of humour failures, presents that left you questioning how much the people around you actually know you (“Oh, a sludge green necklace. I don’t have one of those!”), one year even getting made redundant two days before my birthday. To be fair it was expected. When you work directly for the MD and he gets made redundant you don’t need a crystal ball to know you are next. I just didn’t expect it on my birthday week!
Take this year for example; the afternoon in the pub was almost cancelled due to a teenager who saw nothing wrong with literally abandoning her car on the road behind mine. With the river in front of me and only a foot between my car and hers behind, I was well and truly hemmed in. For twenty minutes lorries struggled to get around her car. When I eventually found her she mumbled about moving it which she did, but I never got an apology.
Looking back I remember the cliche “School is the best time of your life.” There’s only one sane answer to this; no it isn’t! For most people unless you were incredibly self confident or a bully, (or both!) school was a time racked with insecurity, fake friends (just as troubling to a kid as Fake News!) and stressful exams. When you hit the teenage years, puberty is there turning your skin oily and hair lanky, worsening the onslaught of acne and suddenly a chocolate bar does go to your hips.
Teenage years are so bleak I doubt most pensioners would want to time travel back to this period. Everything is unknown and ahead of you, but in a scary way. Everyone drums into you the mantra that you have to do well on your exams or else. If you fail your life is over, you’re a failure. For a time this feels like an insurmountable wall, but eventually you get over it, and then the other side is littered with people telling you, you’ll be fine, and if not you can retake, more to life than exam results etc. The reality is you do the best you can and a few years in paid employment and your exam results are insignificant. I can’t even remember my results with any certainty and I’m only, well, there’s a six in there and a three, perhaps not in that order.
Onto the twenties! At last you have some qualifications under your belt, and now you aren’t forced to be around people you had no interest, regard or anything resembling a common ground for. This is the time when you bump into the people who truly do believe school is the best time of your life. They enjoyed it so well they happened to forget to revise, failed to show up for their exams and are now working in New Look. You know this is the best they will achieve. They were also the ones who took the mick out of you being last in the 100 metre sprint on sports day. To be fair, most of them chose to spend their first years of out of education by having a baby instead of getting a job.
So the twenties. You move out of home, typically move to London, get a job either in a company that does exciting work, but your job is junior and including masses of filing and photocopying, or have an interesting job in a dull sounding company. The second is infinitely better! This is the age when it seems like everyone is doing better than you. The clued up people already have a pension, a salary doubling yours, a two week break in the Maldives booked. The slightly older ones are getting promoted, married or having a baby. You are planning a staycation and juggling which bill has to be paid. You are also liable to the odd redundancy. I went through four; three of which were in the same company, whenever the management team felt like playing musical chairs with our roles.
Oh, and guess what? I still had bad skin. In my teens the doctors told me “you’re a teenager, what do you expect,?” in my twenties, the dermatologist added “wait till you get to your mid thirties and it’ll calm down.” Nope, nadder, not at all. In fact now my work is more stressful, the skin is worse. An accidental side effect of course.
So, thirties. I don’t remember taking it to well turning thirty. In fact it was the proverbial damp squip of a birthday, best forgotten. It also made me start the phrase “how old?” and “I can NOT reach forty!” For everyone older reading this blog, you said the same thing, don’t pretend to be innocent!
But actually thirties are not so bad. At last I have a decent job, a bit more money (and if it wasn’t for the credit cards I could actually see more of it!) and my priorities have changed. As a teenager you push the boundaries, but now a night in is not so sad. Surprisingly I now love education, but whereas driving to college in the dark after work is a stretch, I prefer online webinars and recorded videos on the internet the next day. I’m learning and feeling good about it.
Being in my thirties mean I am a lot more realistic. I will never be a size 10 and I accept that. I never wanted to go from rolls of fat to the bones-jutting-out look. I don’t think it would suit me. The truth is I’m fine with this. I have weight to lose and I will, I just have to figure out how.
The main point is I don’t have to worry about what other people think of me. I can be myself and not obsess over whether I am “cool” enough to join the best gang. Whilst I am the first to admit I have very little self confidence, I’ve never fit into the ‘dress this way’, ‘love these tops’ brigade. I always went my own way. Being in my third decade no one has a problem with this. I also don’t have to be self conscious about what I wear.
The other thing is I am at last free of my bad skin. Unfortunately this isn’t directly attributed, or indeed at all attributed to my age. After twenty-six years of numerous fob offs by doctors and the first dermatologist mentioned above, I at last saw a good dermatologist. I had to pay privately as the NHS waiting times was nine months, but it was well worth it. He was kind, patient, but mostly understanding and hopeful. In my teenage years the adverts said “No one has to suffer,” now at last this is true. I started the drugs last September and whilst the side effects have been truly awful and numerous to the point I lost my sense of humour, my hope and regularly questioned whether I could continue, I am now only twelve days away from completing the dose. Not that I’m counting of course!
After this my dermatologist believes I should only suffer from the occasional spot going forward. By the way, if you call them ‘pimples’ then I know you have never suffered with bad skin! Pimples are akin to freckles which are polar opposites! The lowest point of this treatment was discovering I was on a chemo drug, which was when I realised just how serious it was and why I was feeling the way I was. I have never had cancer, so was quite stunned by this little revelation. Regrettably I do feel despite my constant persistence to get this sorted out, all these years have been wasted in getting to this cure and being taken seriously, but I can’t wait to be on the other side.
So thirties, maybe they are the new twenties, but just with a bit more achieved, and just occasionally a bit more sense (well, we can hope!)
For more reasons why the thirties are not so bad, I thought you might enjoy this – http://metro.co.uk/2015/08/15/13-reasons-your-30s-are-better-than-your-20s-5342402/