On loneliness

I’ve been feeling more lonely, more often, over the last few months. There, I admitted it.

I do enjoy my own company and usually *need* time on my own to stay sane.

But lately, it’s felt a lot more like ‘lonely’ than ‘alone’.

I have friends, but I no longer seem to have a best friend. She’s got her hands very full with two small children, a husband and a hectic life. She’s been drifting away from me for a few years now, if I’m honest. And it’s not for the lack of trying on my part – but after being turned down repeatedly when I suggest we meet up for coffee, or a drink, or even dinner if she can get away, I’ve kind of stopped asking. (She never calls me to suggest a get-together.) I miss her so much. She could always make me laugh until I wheezed. And she was always the person I could tell anything to.

So there’s a big gap in my life without her. I have other friends, but none who I feel I can call at 10pm when I’m having an anxiety attack. Which sucks, because I’ve been having a few of those recently, relating to a health issue.

How I wish that when I wake up in the middle of the night, and scary out-of-proportion thoughts flood my head, and my breath gets shallow and fast, and my heart thuds in my chest, that I had someone I could snuggle up to. Who would put a comforting arm around me and tell me that it will all be OK and that he’s there for me, and that I’m not crazy. And tell me to go back to sleep and it will all seem less awful in the morning.

Because it’s starting to feel like I’m never going to have that. That I’m weird and there’s something strange about me that just puts people off. Is it how I look? Should I lose weight? Do I walk funny? Do I smell bad?!! Or is it this unapproachable aura I apparently project, that makes me seem prickly or aloof and just not the kind of person you’d want to get to know. How is it that everyone else knows what to do to find The One?

I’m dreading getting older and having to deal with health issues on my own. Having to cope with the ageing and eventual loss of my wonderful parents without support. And not having a companion to hang out with and weather life’s ups and downs with.

Yes, I love being single. But no, I do not want to be single for the rest of my life.

So what exactly have I DONE with the last nearly 40 years?

My Big Birthday is looming. Yes, soon I’ll have to change the title of this blog to ‘Single Fortysomething’. And let me tell you, I am not thrilled about it.

How did I get so OLD? I have nearly FORTY years behind me. How did that happen? Where did they go?

I confess, I have been: Completely. Freaking. Out. You know that pressure you get when you’re in your thirties and single? About settling down, stop being so picky, find a good-enough guy, marry him, have children (you’d be SUCH a great mom!)… all that stuff? Well, I’m feeling it x100000 at the moment – and I’m inflicting it on myself.

My BFF who has two under-fives and a husband is so utterly exhausted she doesn’t have time to have a midlife crisis. Would I be feeling happier about turning 40 if I was married with kids? Maybe, but then again maybe I’d just not have a moment to myself to think about it.

The thing is, I look back over my last 40 – OK, say 20 – years and I don’t look at any of the guys I dated and wish I’d married them. (Maybe just one… but we didn’t actually date.) If I had met The Man Of My Dreams in my twenties, my life may well look very different right now. But I didn’t, and I quite like how it looks.

I suppose I’m just feeling that my life is rushing by, and all those things I plan to do ‘one day’ might never happen – unless i do something about it. It’s quite a wake-up call.

But ultimately what I’ve realised is that for the last 40 years – or rather the last 25 (we don’t really have much say until we’re over 15) – everything I’ve done has been based on what I felt was the right decision at the time. Nobody would ever call me impulsive and I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and listened to my gut.

Isn’t it enough to do the best we can?

Yes… that gives me a lot of peace and acceptance about my life so far. But now I’ve taken stock of it all, I’ve realised that I need to take action, and do so sooner rather than later, to make my dreams come true.

Considering this, I’m now quite excited to be entering my forties. Because I’m determined to make them wonderful.

 

Who exactly are you “so blessed” by?

It seems to be the in thing these days to pronounce that you are “so blessed” every time you have a great day, hang out with lovely friends, realise that your spouse/child/cat is really quite wonderful, etc. etc.

I see this all. the. time in my social media feeds. The funny thing is that other than my very charismastic Christian contacts, most people counting their blessings are not religious at all – some even verging on atheism.

So I wonder, who exactly do they think is blessing them? ‘The Universe’? Or is it just a cliche that everyone’s using?

To me, as ‘blessing’ is very much associated with religion – you’re typically blessed by God, Jesus, Mohammed, clerics, or any multitude of gods, depending on your religious leanings. I am genuinely curious about this… would love to hear from anyone who this applies to.

If you are not religious, do you say this and if so, who do you think is blessing you?

Questions nobody should ever ask

How on earth are you supposed to answer these questions?

“When are you going to find someone nice and get married?”

Probably next year, maybe on the last Saturday in April, if my crystal ball is accurate.  Related to:

“Why are you still single?”

O.M.G. There just isn’t a good answer for this one although I’ve been tempted to say things like ‘Because I look at other people’s marriages and none of them make me want to tie the knot myself’. What I usually say is ‘How many nice, straight, single 30/40-something guys do YOU know?’

Another one:

“When are you going to have babies? You’d be such a good mom / You aren’t getting any younger, you know.”

Jeeeeeeepers… this one drives me crazy. Just because YOU have kids, doesn’t mean everyone else (a) wants them and (b) can have them. Oh and thanks for pointing out that I’m nearly over the hill.

So many people struggle with fertility these days, that you’d think people wouldn’t be so tactless. And asking this of a single person is even worse… I mean, are we just supposed to go out and get ourselves knocked up, to become single mothers? I have friends who are single who are desperate for children, but don’t have the (emotional and financial) resources to go it alone. This kind of question is like a knife through their hearts.

And as for those of us who prefer to remain childfree, well… admit that to these people and you’ll be given a look of horror. How could you not want little snot-nosed, screaming darlings?

If you have any snappy answers for these questions, please share them in the comments. I could do with some good comebacks.

Change in direction

I met up with three friends/colleagues who I’ve not seen in quite a while last week. They’re each, in their own rights, smart and funny, insightful and passionate about what they do. We’ve all known each other for about five years, and met in a business context.

What was most interesting to me was how different out work lives look now from when we first met. All of us – every one – have evolved what we do, and three out of the four are now moving into almost entirely different spaces. This evolution has built on the experience and skills we’ve gained in our working lives. But we’re moving into areas now which are quite unexpected and different from what we have been doing for most of our careers.

One of my friends is further down this path than the rest of us, and described quite beautifully how it is a process, not an event. That changing direction takes time, almost like a large ocean liner. She encouraged us to embrace it and go with it – not fight or rush it.

Personally I am moving from my old career into one I’d never imagined I’d be in. And this new phase is less of a career and more of a passion. It’s something much more creative and I’ve been surprised and delighted to have uncovered this latent talent. I’m hoping my business experience to date will help me make it a commercial success as I have no desire to be a struggling artist ;-)

Whether this is all part of my midlife crisis, a seven-year change or just a discovery of my true purpose, I don’t know. But it’s actually rather wonderful.

 

I think I’m having a mid-life crisis

If men go out and buy sports cars or motorbikes, and trade their partners in for younger, blonder models, what do we women do to demonstrate our midlife crises. I’ve heard that each time a woman turns 40, a cougar is born. I quite like that :-)

I did get my first tattoo at 39… does that count? My 40th birthday is looming and I’ll no longer be a single-thirtysomething… I’ll be a single-FORTYSOMETHING. Eeek. When I started this blog I guess I assumed that I’d lose my single status before I lost my thirtysomethingness.

I am very, very aware that my 30s are nearly over. What have I achieved? It’s been over two decades since I left school, two decades as an adult. Shouldn’t I be more grown up by now? More secure in what and who I am? Don’t all adults have life sussed out? Erm, no… most of us don’t.

On my 39th birthday, I made a list of ‘things to do before I’m 40′. Exciting stuff, worthy stuff. A list to make my 40th year a fun and exhilarating one. Things to take my mind off this big birthday that’s approaching. Well, 6 months later, I can tick off very few of those things. Which makes me feel like a bit of a failure really. Sheesh but there is so much pressure, so much *expectation* for us to be inspired, motivated, run marathons, climb mountains, reach for the stars, etc. etc. I’m all for having goals and working towards them but if I see one more motivational poster in my Facebook news feed, I will not be responsible for my actions.

Is 40 such a big deal? Is it really the new 30? Women certainly look a lot younger at 40 these days that they did a generation or two ago. Or perhaps that’s all relative, and I look pretty ancient to 12 year olds.

How much more time do I have left? If I’ve got 40 years, of how many of those will I be healthy and fit and able to do the things I want to do? What do I want to do, achieve, give, find, explore and accomplish in the second half of my life?

I worry that the next 40 years will go by as fast as the first 40 have and at 80 I’ll be saying, “Wait!! What happened to my life? I still want to…”

Sigh.