I don’t really understand why some people think that ones school days are the best days of one’s life. You’re an angst ridden, emotional ball of hormones and zits trying to make decisions about what on earth you’re going to do for the next four thousand years or so you’re going to be on the planet, coping with the petty politics of the playground, hormones, alcohol, freedoms and lacks of them, sex, all that all of the above entail. Not the best days at all.
I know people that peaked in high school. They’re the ones who’ve been friends with exactly the same group of people since school, they marry each other, their kids all go to the same schools they went to and they live in the same suburbs that they’ve always lived in. And they still all call each other by their high school nicknames. I look back on my time in high school, shudder and continue to look forward to – well, everything really.
I suspect I haven’t reached my peak yet – I look back over my life, and high school was the aforementioned ball of hormones and zits. Couldn’t/wouldn’t and in the end didn’t work out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, drifted through high school crossing off potential careers (didn’t want to be a secretary, or a hair dresser or a nurse (human *or* animal), didn’t want to be a teacher either…) Didn’t want to work in retail or be a waitress for ever, although I had a red hot crack at both of those careers through my twenties. Way back in the dark ages, I went to my ten year high school reunion. There were maybe three people whom I would have liked to have caught up with – but of course, they didn’t show; and I realised there were a lot of reasons I didn’t keep in touch with anyone from high school. I wasn’t married, I had no children, I wasn’t gay. I just wasn’t married; and I was between unsuitable boyfriends at the time. This apparently was quite difficult for people to understand. But crappy jobs and unsuitable boyfriends pretty much summed up my twenties. Certainly wouldn’t consider that decade the pinnacle of my existence.
My thirties were an experience I could possibly have done without. I had to be a grown up after I lost my father, even more when my relationship changed with the other members of my family as a result. And while I still had a crappy job and a string of unsuitable boyfriends; my job was mostly crappy because I didn’t like it as much. The unsuitable boyfriends were just that – unsuitable. But my thirties weren’t all crap – I met the right bloke in the middle of them, finally went back to university in my thirties (went to more 21st in my thirties than I ever did in my twenties) had my first kid in my thirties… But I still didn’t feel like I’d reached my peak.
I’m swiftly reaching the end of my forties (oh how unseemly fast that demographic change is coming up on me) and crikey, this has been a cracking decade. I think I’ve achieved more in the last ten years than I have in any other decade I’ve wandered aimlessly through. I’ve had a second kid, finished and graduated from university, leapt off a cliff into the unknown and left a secure job after 18 years and fell into the job I actually do want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve become a person I’d happily have a drink with if I met me. And while I have my ups and downs, I am content with my lot. But have I reached my peak?
Man, I hope not. I come from a relatively long lived bunch, and seriously, peaking in my fifties? What on earth will I do for the next forty years? Go into a genteel decline?
Not long ago, I found my angst-ridden teenage journals, including the ones from around the time of my Epic Birthday Crisis when I turned 25. Man, that was epic. I did not deal well with turning 25. But being the inveterate list-writer that I am, I wrote a list. Weirdly, I appear to have crossed everything off. I’ve got an awesome job, I finished uni, finally did meet a decent bloke, had a couple of kids (I planned one – a girl. We all know how that panned out…) Technically I am published (couple of conference papers, couple of attempts at blogging with a few readers who don’t actually know me). I’ve bought and sold a house, and bought another one. I think that’s a reasonable set of goals for a 25 year old to have. I achieved most of them by the time I turned 40 and
Now, though – I’m almost double that. And I’m *still* not dealing with it as badly as I did turning 25. I suspect it’s because 50 is such a ridiculous number that belongs to totally mature people who wear crimplene slacks and have easy-care perms and shop un-ironically at Burdines and I am certainly not that on the inside or the outside. I’m not about to take on statement hair or statement glasses, and I’m pretty sure you can’t get crimplene slacks in a 34″ leg. I still have a month or so up my sleeve, so it’s not out of the question that I do go off the rails. However, in the mean time, I reckon I need a list for the next 25 years. Not a bucket list. Just a list for the next 25 years. Whadderyou reckon?