Only nine hours or so into the new year and I have already seen two posts on Twitter from people who recently, or are about to turn, 50, bemoaning the fact that they have reached this milestone, seeing the best years of their life behind them.
In the face of such negativity, given that I too am about to reach the half-century mark, it would be all too easy to fall into despondency, to think of the wasted opportunities, the wasted years, or the fact that I have not yet achieved all that I want to with my life.
And yet, I do not feel sad, bleak, miserable, or in any other way reluctant to face down my fiftieth birthday this year. Two years ago I made the decision to reclaim my own name, to take back what I had willingly abandoned when I married, and when I made that decision, I also decided then and there that I would live my life on my own terms, and never let the priorities of another dictate how I lead my life. I made plans to travel with my children, to start the PhD I wanted to do, to write what I wanted to write, to go out when I wanted to go out. And then…. we all know what happened…. Covid got in the way of those plans.
But while Covid may have changed what I was able to do, it never changed the underlying philosophy that I had embraced along with my claiming back my unmarried name. So much has changed in two years. I am now settled in my lovely home back in the North East of England, I am a part-time student working on my PhD, while in my spare time, writing the novels I have wanted to write, reading the books I want to read, seeing friends when I want to see them, and spending time walking through the gorgeous Northumberland country side with my dog. I am getting fitter, eating better, and podcasting about my research, all of which is giving me immense joy.
I am choosing to believe that I am exactly where I am meant to be. Fifty is something I embrace with positivity, and with hope. I really do believe that I have some amazing years ahead of me, and, being free to be the person I can be, after leaving a toxic, all-consuming marriage, my divorce has given me the impetus to move forward and love all that life has to offer.
Nobody knows that the story of their life will be. All I know is that you cannot find out how the story ends unless you keep turning the pages. My fiftieth birthday is just one of those pages. It is not how the story ends. And even though I don’t know how my story will end, I do know that I hope that I get many more pages beyond my fiftieth birthday.
So as we bid welcome to 2022, the year in which I turn 50 (in April, to be more precise), even in the face of all the uncertainty that will come as the Covid crisis continues, all I can do is to wish all of you a happy and healthy new year, and that you embrace all the opportunities it may offer you. Keep turning the pages of your own story.