I turn 31 tomorrow.
Now this isn’t some blatant attempt at fishing for compliments, or dare I say it, gifts of monetary value? (Though there will be a collection box by the door of the blog for when you leave. Please feel free to contribute wisely)
For most people, turning 30 means you take stock of your life, your aspirations, and your dreams, realize you have achieved none of them, and results in you having a panic attack in the middle of the night that is similar to waking up and finding 3 strange hillbillies in your bedroom, one of them strumming the theme tune to Deliverance on a banjo.
This feeling passed me by completely when I turned 30. I felt OK. It was just another day. Didn’t really mean anything. Got some nice presents. Had a lovely meal at the Ivy. Got pampered. A great day had by all. But now with my 31st approaching with all the grace of a myopic rhino on rollerblades, I do indeed find myself taking stock of my life and asking the age old question, where am I going?
You see, I just don’t feel like a grown up. Even though I quite clearly am at the stage of my life when I should be one. I look around at all my school friends, all of them the same age as me, and they are all married with kids, and I am neither. So am I doing this all wrong? Shouldn't I be doing this now like everybody else seems to be doing? Am I behind on my schedule?
I am in a wonderful relationship with somebody that I know (and hope) I'll be in that situation with one day, but I also know I’m not ready for that just yet. But when will that happen? And how will I know? Does a large alarm bell go off in your head? Big flashing red lights, screaming MARRIAGE! MARRIAGE! Does somebody post a leaflet through your door, simply inscribed, “It’s time”?
I live in a nice little bachelor flat. I geek out on computer games. I go to the football. I mess around with my friends, doing the same sort of things that I used to do when I was 18, but without the added stress of wondering if my voice sounded deep enough to get served in the pub. Now to me, that doesn’t sound like an adult’s way of living. Just an overgrown manchild.
It seems that for many of us, unless you are lucky enough to be on some predetermined path, by the time you reach your late twenties/early thirties, you can often feel a little bit set adrift from everybody else. You look around at them playing happy families, and wonder if there was this great big guide to life that was handed out to everyone at the age of 21, and for some strange reason, yours was lost in the post. You are stuck between leaving your own family from birth, and starting your very own one. So the place that you live in until you do this is not really a home, but just somewhere to lay your head at night. So that means I haven’t had a home since I was 17, which quite frankly freaks me out a little and makes me start hearing the banjo once more.
I know one thing I want to be doing. Well, scratch that, two things, but one I can’t. I applied to join the police force, but sadly failed the hearing test (see http://brody-ninjafunk.blogspot.com/2009/09/i-am-now-going-to-break-my-cardinal.html) but it’s OK. Not the end of the world. The main thing I have always wanted to be is a writer. It's the one thing I know I am good at. Not brilliant, that comes with practice and hard work. But I know enough is there to build on. I just have to put the effort in. Which would be fine if I wasn’t a complete lazy bastard. But as I have previously mentioned, I have a good woman behind me who pushes me with gentle words of encouragement, and sometimes threats of violence involving a bamboo stick and the backs of my legs. It can get very Bridge Over The River Kwai round mine at times.
I always thought I would have things sorted out by the time I was 30. I would know who I am, and where I was going. But it is quite clear to me now, I have no idea what I’m meant to be doing, let alone going. And as for who I am, well, I’m just, me? For better, or for worse.
But am I any different to everybody else? Did my own parents feel this sudden sense of vertigo? Are any of these other people, the ones I view at playing happy families; are they any less scared and confused as I suddenly am? Or is it even worse for them, seeing as they don’t just have themselves to worry about now?
I think each and everyone of us muddles through life in our own unique ways. Some are more assured than others. Some have a destination in mind from the offset, and go about getting there with a determination that is frightening for the rest of us. But for the majority, we just wander round like lost toddlers in a department store, just waiting for someone to take our hand and lead us back home.
Still, I’m sure my cake will be nice.
Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me…….