Saturday, 20 April 2013

It's a midlife crisis...

If you immediately thought of Faith No More then you're probably already a friend of mine and, if you're not, then you definitely should be. It's a refrain that I cannot get out of my head at the moment. Because, and this isn't a surprise for many people I'm sure, I think I'm having one.

I don't mean I'm driving an open top Porsche and dating a 19 year old. Because I can't drive and 19 year olds don't do it for me. I just mean that, with my birthday approaching, I have none of the usual excitement or general birthday joy. I just have a sort of blank, blind panic.

It's just a day. It doesn't change anything overnight. I mean, every day we're getting older, inexorably shuffling towards the grave. Just because I've counted another 365 days off my allotted lifespan doesn't change anything or mean anything significant, but there's something about turning 37 that's scaring the living shite out of me.

I'm assuming it's because it's desperately close to 40. And, although many people shriek: "Life begins at 40" it's important to realise that they're saying that because they are in their 40s. What else are they going to say? "It's pretty much all over, get ready for the last few years?" or "I adore being older, achier and wrinklier" or "Being single in your 20s is liberating, 30s is joyful, 40s is terrifying". No, of course they're not. They're going to spout nonsensical and meaningless phrases in an attempt to stave off the inevitable sense of failure and panic they're almost definietly actually experiencing.

Although that could just be me... It stands to reason that a person in their 40s who is, say, a massive success in their chosen field, or very very beautiful, or has married someone they love and is making a home for their family, or has created a book, album, song, painting, something... then maybe they are genuinely happy to be in their 40s.

But then we're constantly warned not to measure our lives against the outward appearances of other people's lives. After all, their Facebook facade most likely doesn't reflect the reality. But what if it does? What if most people don't feel like they're living backstage, constantly waiting for their cue? What if most people do know where they're going and what they want - maybe it's that purpose that makes a life worth living?

I should confirm here that there is nothing wrong with my life. I'm lucky to have made it to 37 with only the few organs needing to be removed, and relatively common and non life threatening chronic illnesses to contend with. I'm lucky that I didn't marry or buy a house with my ex boyfriends - that would have been a lot worse. I'm lucky that I still have one parent left. And I'm lucky that I get to be alive every day.

I have a job, a home, a cat and a heartbeat. That should be enough, shouldn't it? So why is it that the older I get, the less clear everything becomes and I find myself wondering what magic instruction manual everyone else seemed to read at just the right time - the one that told them how to narrow down what they want to achieve out of life and then helped them meet the one person who wanted to be with them to do just that and then showed them how to make their life meaningful and fulfilled.

I feel a certain amount of guilt that I am wasting my privileged, relatively healthy life and there are millions of sperm that didn't even make it past the first hurdle. All the miracles that needed to occur to give me this chance and I have spent a good portion of it crying because a boy doesn't love me. That's quite astonishing when you think about it isn't it? Think of all the things I could have achieved if I had ever, just once, applied myself. Like if I'd actually tried in school, college or university and chosen a vocational degree that would actually help people instead of twatting about with words because I find them easy to organise into an entertaining order.

And, although that's given me a way to earn a living, it doesn't really help anyone or change anything does it? I don't actually do anything that helps people or makes lives better. I just bumble about and read books a lot. Is that enough?

Maybe I should start my 38th year with an actual plan. A plan that involves writing down what it is I actually want to achieve before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Before I get too decrepit to do it at all.

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