In a blink of an eye – oh such a cliche phrase but so true though – it’s been six months since I last sat down with my thoughts. It’s been three days since I celebrated another birthday and while I had so many reflections, alas, the mind is just no match for the ageing body. Our days of waking up at 6am have begun in earnest and most nights find me flat out on my bed.
But no worries, here I am again. It’s a Saturday evening and my dinner plans got cancelled at the last minute. The boys are off to dinner with papa at their grandparents’ and so, unexpectedly, I find myself enjoying the solitude of my own company. How utterly, completely introverted of me.
So, another birthday spent in the 40s. Another year as I observe my eyesight going south, haha! But in spite of me entering my 40s in such turbulent times – hello, COVID19, I see you – I can’t say that it’s been completely crazy. In fact, I do enjoy this phase of my life so very much.
If I had to pick out a keyword for my 20s, it would be search. That was the time when I finally left school behind me and became an adult. All my life, getting a degree had been my goal. I knew that it was my ticket out of poverty and I needed it to get a job so that I can support my single mother. I never thought beyond getting a degree and suddenly, I found myself fresh out of school and trying to establish myself professionally.
I bounced from job to job, trying to find something that felt right. Okay, if I were to be honest with myself, I was also bored after two years at the same job. I always felt like I had learnt enough and wanted to move on to something new. And so that was me in search of the right job – moving from journalism to communications to photo sub-editing to, finally, education. There were days when I wondered why I couldn’t stay put at one place, I struggled so hard to reconcile with myself. But now I see clearly that it all worked out in the end. My need to learn new things, my curiosity- they were perfect for my job as a lecturer.
My 30s, on the other hand, was spent in a haze of exhaustion and motherhood. I tried so hard to get pregnant (this entire blog is full of infertility woes) and then I finally did, twice. The next decade was all about being pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to put little people to bed (our parquet flooring was probably worn out by our pacing), bringing them up while juggling multiple hats. Throw solo parenting into the mix and you can imagine why the days seemed so long but the years are short.
Along the way, I got bored again (a recurrent theme, as you can see), and decided to challenge myself by enrolling in a one-year accelerated Master’s blended learning course. And that was with a full-time job, travelling husband and a three- and five-year-old to boot. Ah, good times. I graduated in one piece and armed with a 3.63 GPA to boot. Am I proud of myself? Damnit – a hundred percent YES.
And so here I am, in my 40s. I crossed into the threshold last year with a full-blown pandemic. It hasn’t all been fun, there were days mired with grief and anxiety and fear. There were days when my kids spent way too much time on their devices and I did nothing to stop them. There were days when I laced up my shoes to go out for a run, to hell with wonky injury-prone legs, because I needed to breathe. Alone.
But it hasn’t all been bad. I have enjoyed working from home tremendously. Being with the husband 24/7 has actually helped our marriage – we weren’t one of those couples who wanted to kill each other. We spent more time with the boys. Going to the gym has been a way for me to let off steam and I am fitter than I have been for the past 10 years. I discovered that I don’t actually have a black thumb and can, in fact, keep plants alive.
More importantly, I have regained my identity as my sons grow up. They no longer depend on me for their most basic needs and I can spend time doing the things I enjoy again. I feel alive, and joyful and uncertain and…well, me.
There are times when I worry about the future. But if there is one big lesson to be learnt from this chaos, it is that we have to let go of the future. A girlfriend suggested that I read Flux Mindset: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change by April Rimme, and this was one of the superpowers she espouses. Every time I start to feel anxious about sometime, I would take a deep breathe and remind myself to let go. There is no certain future in this unpredictable world.
And so, 40s. This is where I discover myself all over again. It is when I go in search of more things to learn and try, while learning to let go of any expectations and fear. Wish me luck!