Here we are. The end of the year. It’s been a crazy month for me – lots of things finishing, glimmers of new things beginning, worries and inspiration arriving on my lap in equal measure.
I had an idea that I’d have the time and feel compelled (inspired by the muse etc.) to write something meaningful, in the true sense of the word, over Christmas. Instead I’ve been in bed for most of a week, sick and feeling a bit sorry for myself, thinking a lot about the end of one year and the start of another.
I’ll be forty next year. That puts a lump in my throat and I want, very badly, to delete the words. There are so many things I assumed would have happened by now, and they haven’t. (Please, I know forty isn’t bad. I know it has no extra meaning but let’s admit, at least, that society has tried to invest it with some. My logical and fairly intelligent mind already knows all the things people have said to try to convince me that forty is actually amazing. But this is my version, so bear with me).
So, my answer to forty has been to avoid it, not to really mention my age (for a few years now, probably) and to decide last year that I’d go away, far away, rather than celebrate it.
I’m in my parents’ house for Christmas and this morning I found photo albums from – well, probably between fifteen and ten years ago. Parties with friends, people I worked with in TV land when I was an actor, family gatherings. And I’m looking at myself and thinking, “wow, I was lovely, and life was great. And I really didn’t know it.”
Like a billion other humans I’m horribly self-critical and have spent a fair amount of life – actual LIFE – hoping to be different. Wishing I looked different, was less emotional, didn’t always over-think it, didn’t cry easily about things that don’t even impact me, didn’t care quite so much whether people liked me… I could go on, but you get the idea.
What a waste. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t spent all this time in a morass of self-loathing; far from it. I know all the brilliant stuff too. I’m a good, kind human and I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made that have brought me to where I am. It just wasn’t where I thought I was going. So now, looking at these old photos – and bearing in mind that before the digital age we really only kept the pictures we liked, absolving ourselves of the punishment of looking back at parties where we got too drunk, or nobody was interested, or the dress was actually really bad – I’ve found the fragment of meaning that I’ll choose to bring with me into 2013.
It’s time to drop the cloak and feel glorious again. It was useful and necessary to hide behind it for a while, but now it’s time to add it to the pile of things I don’t keep. The parts of me I wish I could change will stay, because that’s who I am. And when I look back at photos of now in fifteen years time, I sure as hell won’t be having this same conversation.
Happiness to you all.