The forty-year-old 'outsider'
My search for meaningful connection
I turned forty recently. Forty. Wow, I still can’t quite believe it. It seems so grown up.
It feels really strange to say that I’m forty years old. Even writing it here, I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it’s me I’m referring to. I find it difficult to associate myself with being a forty-year-old. It still seems like I’m twenty-eight in my head. Don’t ask me why that particular age, it just feels like it’s old enough to be sufficiently wise but young enough to still believe in my dreams.
I remember when my parents were that age, and at the time they seemed really old! I’d look up at them and they’d seem so grown up, so mature.
Me – I still run to my mum every time I hurt myself. In fact, I still live with my mum.
I always used to think that when I reached forty that I’d have done it all. I’d have achieved all my goals, and I’d have created my own little gang of fellow forty-year olds that I’d hang out with. We’d have tea parties and oh how we’d laugh! We’d talk about our husbands and how our children were getting on at school. And of course, mine would be the cleverest because they’d take after their old mum!
I thought that I’d have a successful career in which I’d be doing something really worthwhile, helping other people. I’d be an independent woman living in a beautiful home that overlooked fields and I’d know all the neighbours, the postman and the person who works in the local grocery store on a first name basis.
I’d be the one that everyone turned to if they needed any help or advice because I was the strong, reliable, trustworthy woman that everyone could depend on and who would always know what to do.
You get the picture.
But you know what? Things haven’t turned out badly for me.
Ok, so I don’t have the beautiful home, the husband, the kids, the gang of friends to hang out with, the close community and neither do I have that queue of people trying to benefit from my words of wisdom. But I have a good job and in my spare time I do volunteer work for a charity that is very close to my heart.
So I can see all the positives.
The thing that hits me most is the lack of connection that I have in my life.
I don’t have a lot in common with other women my age. My life has turned out very differently to most of theirs. I don’t have a really close-knit circle of friends that I see regularly. I do find it difficult to join in conversations with colleagues and other people because there isn’t a lot of common themes to discuss.
This lack of connection has started to conjure up a lot of negative internal dialogue inside me which I believe has led to a further disconnect with myself.
So despite how I felt about turning forty, it has also been a real turning point for me and as humans, I know we have so much more in common with each other than we choose to see.
Getting older has woken me up to the fact that I want to work on this part of my life a whole lot more, so that in another forty years time I can sit here and write about my gang of fellow eighty-year olds that I hang out with, and talk about my neighbours, the postman and the shopkeeper on a first name basis, and tell stories about the people who look to me as the wise lady of experience.
For me, the key to all this lies in connection.
I hope you will join me in my journey...