Cheers Google. Even though this is... Maybe a bit scary?
Today is my birthday. Today, I am one decade away from the meaning of life. Or, to those who aren't as nerdy, today I am 32. I feel old, if I'm honest with you.
Speaking of honesty, let's assess the situation. When I was a teenager, I had plans. I had pretty much my whole life worked out by the age of fourteen. I was going to meet Lee from 911 when I was eighteen. We were going to get married when I was twenty one and we'd have our first baby when I was twenty two. I was going to be a famous star of musical theatre, who was also a well-loved writer in her spare time. Because in spite of the whole "star of musical theatre, married to a celebrity, mother of four (yes, I planned four children and yes, I had named them all already)" thing, I intended to have a luxurious amount of spare time. Not sure how, but hey. I was fourteen. What did I know?!
Almost two decades later, here I am. Not married to Lee from 911, or indeed anyone else. Not a star of musical theatre, but a nursery nurse, earning a salary that doesn't allow me to rent a place by myself, hence I'm sitting at my parents' kitchen table writing this, wondering whether I might have moved out by the time I hit forty. No children to speak of and although I've had three books published, "well-loved writer" might be pushing it a bit, as far as descriptions of my writing career go.
It would be easy - dangerously easy, in fact - to sit and mope. It would be easy to give up and feel like the world's biggest failure. It can be pretty hard to watch friends and family spread their wings, meet partners, settle down and start families whilst I sit here, feeling as though someone pressed the "pause" button on my life and then lost the batteries from the remote.
But an amazing thing happened to me two years ago when I turned thirty. I realised that life hadn't paused at all. Okay, there are things - big things - I wish I could change overnight. But I can't. All I can do is work towards them. And that's why most of my spare time is spent writing. I'm aiming to make it my career and you know what? I will. Failure is not an option when you're this passionate about something. It means too much to me to ever give up on it.
Look! PRESS COVERAGE. Woohoo!
The thing is, whilst I've got my eye on the big publishing-prize, I've refused to ignore the little things. You have to pay attention to the little things. Alisha's Attic said so (and that reference dates me terribly).
The little things like spending time with friends and family. Walking the dog through the woods. Having weekends away and just being silly and enjoying myself. Sometimes, it's easy to forget that if I had a husband and kids, it wouldn't be quite as easy to disappear to Butlin's with Lizzie every other month. It might not allow me time to shriek with excitement every time the Manics announce a tour and just pick a date and decide "I'M GOING AND THAT'S THAT."
I always used to be a bit freaked out about the idea of growing older and not having achieved some of the life goals I set for myself when I was still young and naive enough to think that adulthood was easy. I still want those things, of course- although I've given up on Lee from 911 - but I'm old (and dare I say wise?!) enough to be grateful for the amazing things I have in my life.
I have my health. I have my family and I have awesome friends. I have a roof over my head and a job. I have survived some of the worst crap life can throw at you and come out stronger. I've learnt not to care if my thighs look a bit wobbly when I put on a swimming costume. I've learnt to speak my mind (politely), even if my opinion goes against the grain. I've started realising that trying to be cool is the most futile waste of anyone's time there is. I have no desire to follow trends or fit in. I'm just me and the best thing about getting older is that in spite of the things I don't yet have, I like me and I like being me.
So here's to getting older, even if your plans have gone a bit askew. I've grown into myself, like growing into that massive school blazer your parents inevitably buy you at the start of Year 7, even though it's unlikely to fit until Year 11. I like who I am and I'm positive about achieving my goals in the future. After all, the fact that the things I want haven't happened yet doesn't have to be a negative thing; it just means all that excitement is yet to come! Whatever will be, will be.
And realising that is probably the best birthday present I could give myself.
Now let's shut up with all this naval-gazing and go and gorge on cake.