Age 31: Another Year Older, Another Year Wiser

I turned 31 on Monday. And for the first time in forever, I actually approached the event feeling excited about the fact I was getting that little bit older. I almost felt – can you believe it? – wiser.

Because birthdays are a bit of a pain, aren’t they? Nobody really wants to age, as somewhat morbidly, it means you’re moving away from the irresponsibility, innocence and fun of youth and slowly towards your own inevitable wrinkly demise that will ultiumately result in death. ARGH.  Not much to look forward to there.

But like it or not, aging is what we do, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it (unless cryogenically freezing is an option yet?). And so it’s best just to get on with the process, dealing with the whole thing as gracefully as possible.

Easier said than done, unless you’re Kate Winslet or Helen Mirren.

At every previous birthday, though the long arm has ticked over for one more year, I’ve still felt somewhat… young. Like, although I celebrated my 30th birthday last year with approximately four different parties on two different continents, I didn’t feel like I’d grown. I felt like I was stuck in the mindset of a 17 year old, a state I’ve been for the last 13 years, feeling surprised each time I bought booze and didn’t get ID’d. I was always sure of the fact I was a fraud each time I did the school run. I wasn’t a grown up. I was a teenager stuck in the body of an adult, Freaky Friday-style.

But something has changed this year. I’m not quite sure what – is it the joy I get from filling my ISA rather than my wardrobe? My sensible car choices? My avid insurance policy comparisons? The fact we haven’t been late for school even once this year?

older and wiser

I think that, each year since my divorce, I’ve had the feeling that at each birthday my life isn’t where I expected it to be. Birthdays are introspective times, periods where you analyse this stuff, wonder if you’re truly happy on the path you’re travelling. And until now the answer to this was always ‘no’. Simply put, I didn’t like being alone, and I still felt a large amount of pressure and guilt over the fact my children were going to be brought up in a single parent family.

But, having had some ‘Eureka!’ moments about my divorce in the last couple of months, I’ve come to realise that any guilt I felt over the breakdown of my marriage was misplaced. I think it was important to feel it and to come to terms with the lone parent thing, but the marriage split – I now know that wasn’t my fault at all. And that realisation is liberating. Like the weight of the world has been lifted.

Everything else fell into place in time for my 31st birthday. I still worry too much about silly things, but really – look at how good I have it! I share my life with the best children in the world (apart from earlier this week when they had a physical scuffle over who got the orange cup in IKEA, then they definitely weren’t the best children in the world), I get to do a job I love – heck! I have the capacity to make money around my kids – how awesome is that? I have the best friends and family, AND Soho House thought I was cool enough to give me my membership back. I am SO thankful to live my life this way, I really am.

30 was hard, 30 was not the easiest year I’ve ever had. But 31 – it’s going to be the one. Even if it’s not, I’m a grown up now and don’t take no crap.   Come at me, 31.

12 Comments
  1. I so get that feeling, I often look at my life and think I am not where I should be. The stupid thing is if I was 20 and looking at my life I would be pretty pleased with everything, own house, nice car… but being 30, single and childless with a lot of friends celebrating 5 years of marriage and children’s first birthday I can’t help but feel like a failure.

    But no more, time has come for me to live in the presence (which I like) and stop worrying about the future

    1. You know, I think we all do this. I bet there’s a stay-at-home mum out there with kids who looks at your life and feels envious for the freedom and wonderful things you have. But I’m with you – I’ll be living for today, too x

  2. Wishing you a most Happy and Wonderful Birthday Alice! I am sorry that I am guilty of not commenting more on your posts, but just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you so much for sharing your life moments, lovely photos of you all and your sage thoughts with us – you are truly an inspiration!! I very much look forward to receiving your Blog entries in my inbox and usually read them straightaway. I can often relate to your posts and appreciate how they leave me feeling uplifted or with a fellow feeling. Have a fantastic celebration!

      1. I’m so glad Alice, as you (and lovely Elfie and Hux!) have often made me smile or laugh out loud…just some thoughts on how appreciated you are….thanks again!

  3. Happy Birthday lovely lady. Enjoy very bit of it, you’ve earned it and deserve it and I hope your next year is filled with as much joy, happiness and new adventures as it can hold.

    And I completely and utterly second what Sharmeen said, I’ve been trying for ages to write something similar without sounding like a gushing teen / mad stalker person and she did it beautifully :)

    1. Thank you so much Emma – I must admit I had to also edit my post a couple of times at least in order to not sound tooo gushing hehe but even if we did sound like a mad fan, it would be well deserved :-) Looking forward to many more blog entries, cheers!

  4. Absolutely adored this post. In some respects I’m actually looking forward to getting older especially if you start feeling a bit more in control. You are so right, I still see myself as that 16 year old but in reality it’s been nearly 10 years since I was anywhere near that. I’m always in equal parts excited and deflated when I’m not asked for ID!!!

    K.

    http://www.wonderingthrough.co.uk

  5. Great post Alice. I think there comes a time when you have to realise that life doesn’t follow the plan we may have had in mind – it charts its own course and there is not really a great deal that we can do about that. Learning how to be happy and satisfied and to make the best of life is something to strive for. Well done for nailing it. Pen x

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