2016 is shaping up to be a big year for me. Big for a number of reasons but mainly because I hit a significant birthday milestone. Hello 40, it’s me Fifi! Turning 40 is a weird one for me as I find it sounds a lot more scary than it is. I remember being 16 and thinking that 40 was ancient. I am however yet to freak out about this milestone. The truth of the matter is that I still feel about 20 in a number of aspects of my life. #immature. I am excited and ready for this next decade.
It is par for the course that when you hit big birthdays you should take time to reflect. Wow …. but there is so much to reflect on even in the last year. 2015 saw some big changes for me personally. That being said I have not left any life changing epiphanies to the last minute. The truth of the matter is that for the last couple of years I have been making little changes to make my life more “me friendly”. I would say that this last year of my 30’s has taught me the most. I have learnt so much more than I could have expected about my life, my friendships, my relationships and me.
For me, there is nothing like a cheeky little marriage separation to learn how fabulous some of the people in your life truly are. This last year showed me that my friends fall into a number of categories. My favourite category has to be the “ride or dies”. What is that? Well the “ride or die” is that friend that instinctively knows when to be there. They make you feel like you again. They are there for the laughs and tears in equal measure. They have told you when you need to hear it most that they know it is a bumpy road ahead and that they are strapped in to go along the road with you.
The awesome people in this group have been there for it all. I am not going all Taylor Swift on you, but my small group of close friends …. “my squad” …. made me feel good being around them. They kept my confidence when things were hard to talk about. They made me laugh. They encouraged me when I doubted. They understood if I was not around, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to be, it was just that there were some plates being spun around in the background. Best of all, they were just there without being asked. These friendships are about feeling like yourself, unconditional love, belly laughs, encouragement, more laughs, mutual understanding, sometimes some prosecco and sometimes being bought fabulous red shoes as a surprise!
Life happens and surrounding yourself with good relationships helps make it easier. A conversation with male friend recently led me to realise I can be a bit of giver. It has only taken me 30+ years to work that one out! I like to make sure the people around me are happy and feel special wherever possible. I invariably will do what I can to make them smile. I have also realised when I give to relationships that I probably shouldn’t. You will know yourself the people that make you feel invigorated and the people who drain …… the life source from you. Where does that put me, sometimes I was wasting energy ….. down the drain! I was not putting me first and sometimes you need to stop wasting that energy and put you first.
Entering the next decade, I have learnt that I am so much stronger than I ever imagined. But equally, I am not afraid to show vulnerability to those I feel comfortable with. Leaving a long term relationship has its plus points but there are also the unsteady points too. One of the hardest things is realising who you are, just you. I was a double act for 15 years and now I was going solo …. it is scary. Last year, at an amazing birthday party, I was one of the only people who was not there with a partner. In fact it was the first event that I attended as a solo act. I was told by someone I had not met before “oh …. you are the single one” …… it felt very weird. I have never been and never will be that person who desperately needed to be in a relationship. In fact I have never felt lost when I am single.
What this last year has taught me is that I had lost sight of me. I felt faded away. As cliched as it sounds, I needed to love me more before I could start a new relationship. I needed to fall in love with myself again before falling in love with anyone else. I needed to prioritise what works for me in a relationship and what doesn’t. I found that this one little step in that direction impacted on everything else in my life.
Sometimes you just need to pause, breathe, repair your universe and then proceed on to your next chapter. It is shaping up to be an exciting chapter too.
The last few years of my 30’s have been a roller coaster. A lot of it was fun. As I come off the ride I feel I know me more. I feel I know my friends more. I know more about what I want from my life and who I want in it. I know what makes me happy and vibrant. Turning 40, I don’t feel ancient. I feel good. I feel more steadied. I have found my feet …. and they are wearing fabulous red shoes.