This week I have my fiftieth birthday, which feels like a significant turning point.
I’m not entirely sure how it happened; last week there I was, an optimistic adolescent, dreaming of what the future might hold, and now here I am with the productive years of my life behind me. My own children are adolescents and I hand over the future to them. I’m starting to look backwards at my life; what I have done, and what I haven’t done.
Let’s face it, I think I’ve left it too late to join the Royal Ballet, my first dream as a child, and it’s not looking good for acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company either! I did spend many happy years messing about with amateur dramatics, but I think it’s time to admit that I need to take a step back from that too – I’m too old for the parts I once wanted to play, and sitting in the wings filling out paperwork and trying to keep on top of child protection procedures was too stressful.
I went to University because I loved English Literature, and I took my studies as far as I could before I had to face the fact that I couldn’t take it any further because I didn’t want to move into the teaching side of academia, so I sidestepped into the world of libraries. I loved my work with rare books, I don’t think I was ever happier in a job than cataloguing early printed books in an academic library, but I’ve been out of that work for nearly twenty years, and my qualifications and experience are out of date now.
I did actually achieve my third childhood dream – I am an author – but my dislike of selling myself online means that I’m unlikely to become a proper author; one who makes money from her books. These days it feels like you have to work at becoming a celebrity first and THEN write books, and to the “list of things that I’m not going to be” I can confidently add “a celebrity”! I just want to write, and I’m not going to give that up in the near future, but as for self-promotion … well, I never know what to promote!
So, what next? Fifty feels like an end, but it also feels like a new beginning. There’s a blank page in front of me, and for the first time in a long, long while, I don’t know what I’m going to write on it. Perhaps its time to start dreaming about what the future might hold just like I did when I was an adolescent!