Well. 2020. March 2020, no less. Which makes me 42, and therefore the answer to life, the universe, and everything. (If you don’t get that reference, I have nothing further to say to you. Come back later.)
I clearly remember as a teenager thinking that 27 would be the age. When I was 27, I thought, I would be completely together. I’d be organised, and confident, and good at social things, and a proper adult, and … stuff. I don’t think I actually had much of a clear idea of what being a proper, together adult would look like or entail, but it did include jeans and boots with chunky heels. (It was the mid-nineties. Everything had chunky heels.) Plus I probably wouldn’t have freckles or spots.
Turns out, 27 was not the point at which I magically became completely together. I was, in fact, pretty spectacularly untogether at 27, and while in many ways I feel a lot more together at 42, I certainly have no answer regarding the question of life, the universe, and everything.
I also still have freckles and spots, as apparently acne is for life, not just for your teens. Cool.
As it turns out, adulting isn’t about being together, certainly not in the sense I imagined it as a teenager. It’s not about being polished and in control, at least not for me. Although, if that’s how it’s worked out for you, then awesome. Just as we’re all different, all our versions of being a grown-up are different, too.
But mine means being untogether, and being okay with that.
It means “filing” things in piles on the kitchen table, underneath the leaflets for double-glazing someone put through the door.
It means eating chocolate digestives for lunch while the SO’s away because, well, I like them, and thinking of food is hard.
It means forgetting birthdays not because I don’t love people, but because I put them on the wrong page in my diary, and that’s the only way I remember them.
It means some days I get All The Things™ done, and some days just stringing a sentence together is an accomplishment.
It means understanding that life just doesn’t work the way we want it to, and sometimes it deals us kicks we wish we could outrun, but can’t. We get sick. We get hurt. We lose people we love. We lose things that were dear to us. We lose opportunities and days and chances, and none of these things can be found again. We lose time, and years, and we don’t reach the goals we thought we would. We don’t achieve the things we wanted to.
And sometimes we even lose our sense of ourselves.
And all we can do is weather it. All we can do is the best we can to befriend ourselves again, in the face of all these other great and crushing losses, and accept that years pile up behind us more than ahead of us, and that some things are gone for good.
All we can do is the best we can with everything, and that’s always changing, depending on if we’re well or poorly, if we’ve eaten or not, slept or not, cared for ourselves or not.
Which sounds rather sad and morose and seems to require a lot of sighing and maybe a bouquet of wilted lilies to drag around. But it’s not. It’s a little sad, sure, but it’s wonderful, too, because it’s simple, in a way. All we can do is the best we can. And I can manage that.
Because sometimes I will remember to send a birthday card, and some weeks I will remember to cook, and leave things in the fridge for lunch, and sometimes I even put things away in the file box or (gasp) throw them out.
And that’s enough.
Growing up – living – isn’t about reaching some strange, undefined goal of adultness or togetherness. It’s not about remembering every detail of everything, or – dear god no – about being some sort of perfectly adept social butterfly.
It’s about being enough. And, lovely people, we are enough. You are enough. So am I. I know you don’t feel it sometimes, because I know I certainly don’t feel it sometimes, but it’s true. Being enough isn’t being perfect. It’s almost the polar opposite. It’s about doing our best, and knowing that, even if our best on that particular day is curling into our beds and just surviving, it’s still enough. It is always enough, and just because we once thought – or were told – it was something more or different doesn’t change that.
Being an adult is not being someone else. It’s being who we are, and embracing that, and loving ourselves for it, not in spite of it.
And using decent moisturiser, because now we’re grown-ups we get spots and wrinkles, and the cheap stuff makes you look like you walked into a wasp’s nest. Trust me on this.
Now tell me, lovely people – what’s your snippet of practical wisdom you’ve learned along the way? Let me know below!
42, ageing, aging, growing older, life, living, you are enough
The other day I was reading one of your cat stories when my husband yelled “a catastrophy!” (He was doing something in the kitchen.) I immediately visualised a cat, hairs bristling all over indignantly spluttering “I am lots of things, but one thing I am not, and that is a trophy”. I just had to share it with you. P.S. Love the dragon stories, more p l e a s e.
Oh, that is just perfect! I can see that perfectly – no cat would ever approve of being referred to as an object! Although now I’m intrigued to know what the catastrophe was – and if it did, indeed, involve a cat who was up to no good… 😉
And I’m so glad you enjoyed the dragon stories! As far as short stories go, there’ll be a new one in the newsletter at the end of the month, although i have to confess there are no dragons in it. But there will be more dragons later in the year. Happy reading!
I had a biker friend whose philosophy was “sh*t happens so just go with the flow”. I wish I could say I followed that but….. You are right about a decent moisturiser – to which I add comfortable shoes. As to cats and dragons, all I can say is “They aren’t as frightening as they pretend they are.”
Oh, I wish I could adopt that philosophy! I’m learning to worry less about the small stuff, but it’s far too easy to get caught up in.
And yes to comfortable shoes! As far as cats go, though, I’m not convinced. They’re pretty frightening… 😉
I love the falling pot of flowers! I just finished rereading the first two books and had forgotten how absolutely brilliant Douglas Adams is.
But . . . priorities, then: happy birthday! I think you’re at that magical age where you can still feel young and not sweat all the stuff you did when you were youngER. I stress over very little these days (even at the advanced age of 55, lol) and enjoy my life quite a bit. I am also in shock at what stock images seem to think is messy. I can knock over at least three piles of papers/books right now, PLUS a bonus bottle of water, without even flexing or taking my fingers off the keyboard. Not to brag, though.
I’m just rereading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe now! I have to admit it’s not as amazing as I remember, but it’s still just the sort of reading I need at the moment. Fun, silly, and so much depending on a cup of tea…
And thank you! I do still feel young. My knees may not always agree, but what do they know? They’re knees. They can keep their opinions to themselves…
Thank you so much for that post, it’s utterly perfect at this time. I’ve given my mother my copies of your four Beaufort books, to amuse her during self-isolation, and I am receiving so many texts from her as she laughs along with the characters (she’s just met The Bollies!). Dad has been eating the cakes I left for them and mum is now convinced that he is part-dragon! I’m currently waiting on my Gobbelino London book arriving in the post and I cannot wait to get started (The Witcher books are keeping me occupied until then – if you haven’t read them they’re great, and there are talking dragons!). In fact, in honour of Gobbelino (and The Watch), you might like this video from Owl Kitty – they’ve edited The Witcher series to include a cat!: https://twitter.com/i/status/1241868088548548608 Sorry, the only social media I have is LinkedIn(!) or I would have tweeted it. I hope that Beaufort & Mortimer are keeping you company if you’re self-isolating. Again, thank you for writing these books – they are utterly joyous and magical 🙂
That video is perfect! The cat tackling the fighter is so perfect – thank you so much for sharing, I definitely needed that giggle!
And I’m so happy your mum’s enjoying the Beaufort books! That’s just lovely to hear – I hope she and your dad are both doing well and you’re all keeping yourselves safe.
And a most enormous thank you for all the Beaufort love – it makes my heart very full. I’m looking forward to writing another of their adventures very soon, but at the moment Gobbelino is proving VERY demanding. I really hope you enjoy his stories in the meantime!
Thanks again for the lovely comment – stay safe! ❤️
I love Owl Kitty! I follow the Instagram account, and it never fails to make me laugh.
Okay, I’ve just checked that our, and it’s WONDERFUL! Just what we need 😊