whoever you want to be…

Life, the Universe, and Oprah

Me, yesterday.

Me, yesterday.

Yesterday, I turned 42. I can’t believe it. 42 is a grown-up’s age. I am not a grown-up. I mean, I do grown-up things. I have a mortgage. And children. But I feel… I don’t know how old I feel. Early thirties maybe? Late twenties? Although I recently found a diary I wrote when I was 28 and I don’t remember what 28 felt like. I think it probably felt pretty much like this…

Do people feel older as they get older? Really? Or do you get to a certain level of grown-up-ness and just stick like that? I remember my mum saying she was often shocked when she looked in the mirror – she was expecting a young woman and she never got used to seeing what she called an old lady (she was only 61 when she died, so she never really did see an old lady).

I recently read a bit of John O’Farrell’s latest novel, The Man Who Forgot His Wife. It’s about a man with amnesia – he literally remembers nothing about himself or his life. This bit made me laugh.

I ventured into a public toilet just to stare into a mirror and was shocked by the age of the bearded stranger I saw frowning back at me. I guessed I was around forty, maybe more, greying at the temples and thinning on top. Without even thinking about it, I’d presumed I was somewhere in my early twenties, but now I could see that I was actually two decades older than that. I learned later that this was nothing to do with my particular neurological condition – that’s just how everyone feels in middle age.

Being 42 doesn’t bother me (much), but it does seem completely unbelievable. Just after he died last year, I saved this quote fromย Maurice Sendak: “I can’t believe I’m an old man. I was young just minutes ago.” I don’t feel like I was young minutes ago, in fact if I think back to, say, primary school, it seems a quite staggeringly long time ago – a lifetime ago – but I do still think “42? Already?!”

I seem to manage to balance fretting that time is running out with thinking the best is yet to come (and I’d really like to live to at least 100 – if not forever, obv. – so I may actually have more ahead of me than behind me) and I love this quote, tweeted by one of my favourite tweeters, @QuiltingMuriel ย “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts.”

I also feel that finally, finally, I’m getting my shit together and becoming – and I’m sorry about this – the person I always meant to be. I am, as Oprah would say, Living My Best Life. Or I’m getting there anyway.

In last month’s O magazine, Oprah wrote about a woman celebrating a birthday in a restaurant asking her to take a photo of the group. (Really? You’re celebrating your birthday and you ask Oprah Winfrey to take the group photo?!) The woman didn’t want to tell Oprah her age, saying “I’ve been a wreck for weeks knowing this day was coming. It just makes me sick to think about it.” It turns out she was turning 43. Oprah’s horrified, saying “It makes you sick to think that you’ve marked another year, that every worry, every strife, every challenge, every delight, every breath every day was leading to this moment?” And then she added, “By the way, most of us are just hitting our stride in our 40s, ready to break out into our real selves.”

Oprah’s always right, right?

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About K

YA writer. Voracious reader. Feminist. Home educator. Addicted to tea and Twitter.

9 comments on “Life, the Universe, and Oprah

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday (to me) | Keris Stainton

  2. Debs Riccio
    May 26, 2013

    When I was your age, Keris, I got married and as I stood in the ante-room to the castle (yes, castle – remember?) I answered the Registrars who’d just asked me to confirm my age with a sudden: “Oh my god – look at me – at MY age!”.
    Happy B.day for yesterday x

    • Keris
      May 26, 2013

      I *do* remember ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you x

  3. malmonroe
    May 26, 2013

    Oh dear. I’m way older than you and I still feel 16 going on 25, still waiting to break out into my real self. I know many people my age (and younger) who seem to be about 90 – and just as many who seem to be about 20. It’s all in the mind, you are who you want to be at the end of the day, whether you realise it or not! (PS Glad you enjoyed your birthday! You have a way to go to catch me up… life is quite an adventure . . . just remember not to look in too many mirrors…) PS as I remember the woman who turned 43 is called Marilyn … ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

    • Keris
      May 26, 2013

      Thanks, Maz. Yes, I’d love to know how old people would think they were if they didn’t know how old they were, IYSWIM. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Emma Johnston
    May 27, 2013

    You actually turned 42 on Towel Day. This is the geekiest birthday EVER.

    • Keris
      May 27, 2013

      Did I?! I didn’t realise! That’s so cool, thanks for telling me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Debbie Young
    May 27, 2013

    Happy birthday, Keris – 21 again! That can only be a good thing!

    • Keris
      May 27, 2013

      Thanks, Debbie! Actually I meant to mention it was double 21, but I forgot. That definitely is a good thing ๐Ÿ™‚

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2013 by in Bea Yourself and tagged .
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