A birthday with an ‘0’ at the end makes you reflect and plan even more than all other birthdays put together. They make me think about times past and what’s been achieved, and ponder what is still to do and perhaps what the future might hold. It is an important thing to do, in between fending off the inevitable interest and curiosity from those around us, who consider it an invitation for teasing and mockery, or assume it to be a prominent vicarious feature of their upcoming social diary.
At 10, I was excited about being more ‘grown up’. I had entered double-figures. I wasn’t happy at school. I’d already learned the world was a harsh, judgemental and not an inclusive place. I was thinking about myself in terms of what I wasn’t. And I couldn’t see how I fit in. And the prospect of going to big school a year later was pretty scary. I was right. Actually, I wasn’t, it was much scarier than I could have imagined.
At 20, I had learned and played to my strengths, worked hard, and I was in my last year of an arts course at uni. So at this time there was lots of stuff around having a great time with student friends. I was loving the design work on the course and looking ahead to entering the big world of work. There was some trepidation and many limitations – low confidence (well hidden, or so I thought) a lack of experience and dire finances being key ones. I wanted, like a lot of 20-year-olds, to change the world. I was angry with it for not letting me in. That fed depression.
At 30, I’d been working for 10 years, I’d identified a career, sort of. After a series of multiple and connected part-time jobs (I had and needed a bike), I had enjoyed my first and second full-time jobs. I was still not happy in my skin, and wasn’t fitting well in the job I had. It was hard work being 30. I felt I was knocking on the door of the world, and it wasn’t letting me in. However, the things I wanted to change in the world were starting to be what I did for work – training and development work in childcare and equalities. There was a sense of me changing the world – one little bit, or one child at a time.
At 40, I’d had a roller coaster 10 years or so of work. Not long into my thirties I left my job and went freelance. That move saw my business swiftly grow and develop. There was lots to be happy about and it felt like the world was coming around to meet me half way. It felt like we were connecting – and this is when love, work and life started to fire on all cylinders. There was, and still is, lots to be happy with.
At 50, I felt much in the world had changed around me and for me and had made me feel a greater part of it. What I’ve been trying to do and striving to say is now pretty much a common idea, and what we do at work is still ambitiously leading the way. The love that has always surrounded me and that I haven’t always appreciated is much more present. So I feel with every passing decade things just get better. It’s why we’re here, to sort out all those things we’ve learned along the way and make the world and each passing decade a little bit better. If we’re given the chance and a fair wind.
Another ‘0’ birthday is quite a way off. I wonder what that one will teach me, when it arrives. But there is no rush thank you.