exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

the annual pre-birthday freak out

by Jen at 6:01 pm on 24.12.2010 | 3 Comments
filed under: mutterings and musings

tomorrow i turn 38. and i know, i know – i bitch and moan about my birthday every year, but this year’s been particularly hard.

maybe because for the first time, i have started to see and feel signs of aging. i’ve had a smattering of grey hairs for 10 years now, but they are starting to come in thick and fast. my face is definitely starting to soften, and there are a few telltale wrinkles appearing. i’ve got the tiniest hint of a neck wattle (that only i can see, but i know it wasn’t there before). the metabolism is getting considerably more sluggish and i’ve continued to have bursitis in my hip for most of the year. i find my brain batting about foreign thoughts of creams and potions, and “defending” against further decline. what little vanity i have is screaming in horror every morning when i look in the mirror and see someone who looks older on the outside than i feel on the inside. it’s not that it’s so bad now – it’s that i know it’s only going to get worse.

maybe because in a few months, i’ll be leaving a job i’m not terribly thrilled with, to go to canada and try to find… another job i won’t be particularly thrilled with. i am sick and tired of doing jobs i don’t particularly enjoy, just to pay the rent. i want to do something i love – friends around me this year have made significant career changes, and i’m jealous. unfortunately, i won’t be able to start studying for a master’s degree for nearly two more years, at the earliest, assuming that everything goes exactly to plan. and that’s depressing as hell.

maybe because i’ve really loved my thirties. in spite of my initial terror, my thirties have turned out to be empowering and freeing and fun in a way my twenties never were. the thirties have been the decade where i really feel i’ve come into my own, and the prospect of leaving them behind for official “middle age”, is quite sad indeed. i’m sure there are a million people waiting to tell me how fabulous forty will be. but frankly, i’m not inclined to believe them just get.

i’m determined not to spend the next few years in a panic over the arrival of something i can’t control. time marches on, whether i dig in my heels or not. but i also have to acknowledge that i’m feeling quite fragile about it all this year. and so this is a mini-wallow, rather than a pity party. i’m dipping my toe in the woe, rather than sinking into it. but as has become tradition, i’m going to try my damnedest to celebrate where i’m at right now, even with all my misgivings about the future.

for years now, i’ve carried around a newpaper clipping. it’s from the boston globe – they used to do this thing (perhaps still do) where every day next to the comics, they’d have a quote. on my birthday on year, this was that quote – i cut it out and have saved it ever since. from one of my favourite poets, it is perhaps the truest thing i’ve read, and it never fails to be meaningful to me when i need it most:

“to be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

- e.e. cummings

3 people like this post.


  • 1

    Comment by Charlotte

    26.12.2010 @ 09:00 am

    Happy birthday, Jen! Love the Cummings quote. One of the ways I’m fighting is by accepting my aging process and *trying* to love it.

  • 2

    Comment by Your Sister

    29.12.2010 @ 15:04 pm

    having seen you on your birthday, and envying your gene pool, i can say that you look damn good!
    have you ever thought of writing? i have said it before, and carl and i discuss it as well, you are very good with words and we often say that we could see you as an author. (i would even buy your book, instead of waiting for the library to get it!)

  • 3

    Comment by jayjay13

    2.01.2011 @ 04:57 am

    tomorrow i turn 38. and i know, i know

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