Tag Archives: getting older

The Joys of a Birthday

I love birthdays.  Especially my own.

I have no idea why the joy is still there, but in my *cough* 43 years on this earth there are a few things I’ve learnt about birthdays.

You are responsible for reminding everyone.

If you want people to wish you a happy birthday and make you feel special, then give them advanced warning. You can’t expect them to remember it.

You are responsible to making your birthday special. 

You are really the only person who knows what will make you smile.  So say it out loud.  Just because it’s not a surprise doesn’t make it less fun or enjoyable.

You get wiser on every birthday

This is the truth.  My current brain inside my 20-year-old self would have conquered the world.  It is one of life’s great cruel fates.  Never the less, I love that I understand the world a little better every year, that I’ve learnt to take  people as they are and if I don’t like the way someone is I can always walk away.

So with all that in mind, I told quite a few people at work and they wished me a very happy birthday as I left for home on Thursday.

I’m about to head off to Marlborough for a spot of shopping and perhaps will read a magazine in a coffee shop.  Then The Monster and Mr40 can meet me for lunch and we can make our way back home at our leisure.  Pickle isn’t due out of her after school club until after 4pm.

As well as this lovely day, some friends are dropping in en route to Bristol from London and are staying overnight so we’ll all head to the local pub later on for a few drinks and the boys will bring the kids home and heat up our “Cook” order before they watch the rugby (I’ll ignore that need – it wasn’t on my list).

It’s going to be a brilliant day and look………I’ve even told you!

image

 

40 + 1 + 1

Oh ok, I’m 42.

Today!

Yep, I’m well and truly free falling now, if I squint I can just about see the bottom.

I’m finding that turning 42 is much much more enjoyable than turning 41.  Turning 41 was not good.  A year after the  buzz of the big milestone and my decision to work on my birthday (I always have) and getting a few annoying emails from work colleagues on the day, I ended up really quite down in the dumps last year.  So this year I’ve decided to take the day off.

I may or may not do the school run (it’s ok, I’m not advocating truancy, Hubby is here so he can do it) and then I’m heading off to Kingston for a spot of shopping, a languish in a coffee shop and then meeting up with hubby for a nice lunch.  I’m hoping to make it back in time for the school run (a novelty for me) and then we will all go out for dinner as a family.

I’m rather looking forward to it.

Happy Birthday to me!

I’m an Introvert

Believe it or not, I spent most of my life believing I was an extrovert.  Honestly.  I’m feel incredibly stupid for this, but I don’t know whether it has been the ageing process that has accentuated the traits and made it much more obvious or whether I’m just better educated now.  Maybe both.

The reason I thought I was an extrovert stems from my teens and 20’s.  I had relatively queit friends and I am very talkative. I am a chatterbox. I looooove to talk. My aunt rang my mum once to check up on my throat infection and asked if I had stopped talking. The answer was no.  As well as the talking a lot, filling the empty silences that people insist on putting there (why, why do they do that?) I quite like having the floor with friends.  I have very fond memories of having one too many drinks and practically doing a stand up routine or often a bit of improvised slapstick for the amusement of those around me.  It took me a while, but I started acting in my early 20’s, eventually coming to the UK in the 90’s to study drama, meet my husband and do a bit of professional acting before realising I wasn’t up for the struggle and quitting.

That sounds like an extrovert doesn’t it?  Attention seeker. Drama queen. Actress.

It always confused me when I did quizzes or a Myers Briggs personality test in early 2000 and I didn’t come out as an extrovert. Why do they keep getting it wrong?

So, it’s taken me a while, but in the last 5 years I think it has slowly trickled into my head.  Around the time I had children and found myself in situations where I was meeting new people for the first time at NCT antenatal classes or at children’s birthday parties.  It probably wasn’t until this year that I made the jump to actually realising I was an introvert. To go from being an extrovert, right the way down the scale to the Introvert was a bit of a shock to the system.  It has helped me though.

I’m no longer critical of my inability to make new friends.  I’ve stopped getting annoyed at my anxious disposition about a night out with people I don’t know very well.  Best of all, I’ve started to find like minded people on twitter and in real life who are just like me.  I’ve been able to give advice to my husband, advice that wasn’t obvious even to me (like this picture), to help him understand why I am the way I am.introvert

There are quite a few myths out there about introverts and on my googling, I found this really interesting blog post  by Carl King.  In it, he had the exact same realisation and found a book that helped him to understand it better.  Here are the myths he outlined. I shouted “yes” to everyone:

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

These made perfect sense to me.  I often engage with people at my daughter’s school, because we have a common interest and our children are in the same class and I like to be inclusive.  Just because I do that, doesn’t mean I like to chat to strangers.  It depends on the circumstances and my mood.

What has been the biggest realisation this year, along with my understanding of my anxiety, is that not EVERYTHING I do is a result of my anxiety.  Quite a lot of it is just my personality, my introversion.  This blog post about my daughter, helped me realise that. I’ve always encouraged her to be social, so the fact she finds it hard sometimes is another example of our genetic makeup, hers and mine.

We can’t change it, nor should we want to.  I’m planning on using my new found knowledge to be kinder to myself and accept how introversion is part of who I am.

 

The Best Things about being in my 40’s

No, I’m not scrapping around for the positivities of getting older (ok, maybe I am), but there are definitely positives to age and I think it’s important to remember them when you are bemoaning your saggy tummy and bum, staring horified at your crows feet and complaining (yet again) that you have no idea what it feels like to NOT be tired all the time.

So here are my top best things about being in my 40’s.

I’m smarter!

I definitely am. It’s not just because I did my Open University degree from age 34-40, although that no doubt helped, but the bottom line is that after spending 41 years on this planet I’ve picked up a thing or two. Mostly about understanding people, but also a better understanding of the world, politics, environment and Life generally. I can hold my own in a debate about Feminism. NO way on this earth I could have done that 15 years ago.
Mistakes. I’ve made alot of my big mistakes already and I’ve (hopefully) learnt from them. No doubt I’ll make a few more before my time is up, but having made so many I know anything can be fixed, no matter how hopeless they look at the time.

I like my body and know my Clothes

It’s taken a bloody long time, but I think I’ve figured out what clothes suit me and what don’t. It’s a sad fact of life that once we appreciate the shape of our bodies, learn to love them to some degree, they are already on their way out. For me, being pregnant helped me appreciate my body the most. I know look at my wrinkled belly and it reminds of my children, not of an ageing body. I know a cinched in waist, no matter of the size will always make you look fabulous and wearing voluminous dresses or tops with no shape will do the complete opposite.

I’m waaaaaay more Interesting

I’d like to think I’ve always been a fairly interesting person. People always seemed to remember me from a distance meeting whilst I was scrapping around in the recesses of my mind just trying to remember their face. I think this was mostly borne from the fact I was over 18 before I realised I was capable of being thought of as pretty. My family had convinced me I was Frankenstein’s monster so I worked on my personality, established a sense of humour and focussed on watching and figuring things out. I think what makes me more interesting now is my life experience. I have a “colourful” past (or so I’m told) and I have no issue talking about it. I find other people’s past just as interesting and could wile away a whole evening talking about loads of topics. I think I have depth, whereas in my 20’s I was a bit empty, I now realise.

More Money

Oh yes, I’ve got more money than I had in my 20’s and 30’s. It didn’t magically appear but I made good decisions in work, improved on my knowledge and worked my way up. I have a mortgage, a big house, but can afford to buy myself an item or two of clothing each month and buy that Clarins product. In my 20’s I was earning less than £700 a month and living in a bedsit. I know which I prefer.

I know who I am and what I like

This is a biggy for me. I know what freaks me out, what brings up my anxiety and what calms me down and THIS alone is worth being in my 40’s. In my 20’s and 30’s I got all of those emotions and had no idea what the hell was going on. I would argue with those around me and spend hours feeling sorry for myself with no real idea on how to go about fixing it. Whilst I still struggle occasionally, on the whole I know “why” and know “how” to make myself feel better. A brisk walk, a spot of gardening, 20 minutes by myself. I’m quicker to apologise for my actions and to move on.

I know how I form Friendships

I’m a slow burner. There is just no two ways about it. I recently went to a tweet up (which I had to psych myself up for weeks in advance) to go and say “hi” to a bunch of people I didn’t know. They were lovely, welcoming, friendly and just delightful, but I was a fish out of water. I felt uncomfortable, I had no reference to talk to them and I just wanted to be at home. I know this seems contrary to my point above, but there was an agenda to meeting these people, rather than it being a spontaneous, accidental chat with people I knew around me in case things went pear shaped. Firstly, I’m very picky about who I’m friends with, but once I know we’ve hit it off, I could well be the most loyal friend you have. I’m happy to live with this. It’s just the way I am. Please don’t mistake my aloofness for anything other than mild terror.

I’m prepared for Child rearing

I think I would have been a terrible mother in my 20’s and early 30’s. I would say that wouldn’t I? I do think it’s true though. Of course I don’t care remotely whether you are 16 or 46 when you have your children, provided you raise children to be considerate, kind, polite and with a suitable moral code. I know the advantages to raising children in your 20’s, but for me, this was definitely the right age for it. Now with a 5 year old and a 2 year old and me in my 40’s I have the strength of character to ignore short term gains in order to ensure long term achievement. I have had the time to reflect on my own upbringing, stop finger pointing, accept both sides of the story and adapt my teachings to try and not make the same mistakes. Of course I will create a whole bunch of new ones, that is inevitable, but as one of my goals is to be as honest with my children as I can (within context and reason), I’m hoping they’ll accept some of those mistakes and build on top of them for their children. Of course I also have the skill (and the psychology degree) to create new ways to get a toddler to eat vegetables. THAT is my biggest achievement.

Laughing

I enjoy laughing so much more now than I ever did. I laughed alot years ago too, but I think I took it for granted. Now if I spend an evening with friends and we laugh alot, I appreciate how fantastic it is. I live for the joy and laughter now and know that in a world of responsibility, pain and emotion, how the laughter and joy should be celebrated all the more.

I appreciate A cup of tea

How wonderful can this be? cup I used to stare at my parents in disbelief as they made their third cup of tea of the day in 40 degree heat (“it helps you cool down”), but I really do get it. Tea, cake, a meal out at a good restaurant, a spontaneous walk in the woods. It is the little things in life that bring the greatest joy and it’s just a shame it took getting to 40 to discover that. I intend to appreciate it.

So yeah, lots of rubbish things about getting older, but I think FAR more good things come with age. What are your best things about getting older?

Happy Birthday to me.

Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. ~Leroy “Satchel” Paige

I was minding……in the lead up to this birthday I minded a lot. I’ve had a few twitter chats about it and I realised how ridiculous I sounded.

I need to remember that the whole point of this blog was to follow my journey through my 40’s and that includes the downs as well as the ups, but for now I need to be up. Birthdays should be a celebration of your achievements and not a mourning for years gone by.

41

So I will continue to surprise those around me that discover my age and use my 41 years wisdom to guide my children, support my friends and enjoy my job and stop moaning about it. It’s an inevitability of life and I’ve decided to embrace it!

So, should I remain The40yearold for a decade on twitter or change my name every year, starting today with The41yearold?