I don’t remember being given my rule book.
Maybe that’s an oversight that left us all bumbling through the world blind, making up our own rules as we go. Never fear, because apparently a diet supplement company has conducted a survey and is saving us from ever making those ridiculous mistakes like wearing high heels when we’re over 34, or a crop top when we’re over 28.
I’ve just ordered a bikini for a trip to the beach, but it’s ok, because I’ve still got 13 years left to wear it, but that mini skirt in my wardrobe I should have stopped wearing 8 years ago, which is a shame because I hadn’t bought it then. I got a tattoo at 17, and never got anymore because I couldn’t afford it, but recently I’ve been pondering another one, unfortunately I’ve now found out that it’s 4 years too late for me now and that ship has sailed.
I’m not sure why this survey even exists, or how it is supposed to sell diet pills. Who actually spent their time deliberately putting together a survey about limiting people’s options, making them feel bad for their life choices, and who answered those questions with an arbitrary age at which they felt they, and other people, should stop doing certain things.
My whole life I’ve been the Queen of uncertainty, I’m loud and chatty in social situations, then I go home and the little voice in my head shouts at me about being too loud, talking too much and generally being annoying. The things I haven’t done because I didn’t think I was good enough or haven’t really tried at because I was frightened I’d fail could fill a book (probably one of those small floppy paperback ones you get in gift shops, I don’t get THAT many exciting opportunities).
It wasn’t until I became self-employed at 28 that I started to figure out what I could do and who I was. I’ve made mistakes, lots of them, some things worked out, others didn’t. Since I turned 30 I’ve dyed my hair red/blonde/lilac/pink/purple, started running and completed a Half Marathon, taken up Roller Derby, launched 8 different websites and business ideas, put some of them on standby, dropped others completely and built some of them up into money-making businesses. I’ve taken my first long haul flight, all on my own, ridden the roller coaster on top of New York New York on my own, attended events where I knew no one at all and organised events that people loved attending. I’ve been on national radio on Woman’s Hour, been paid to work as a model, taught myself how to build websites and spoken at conferences in front of LOTS of people.
So today I’m 35, but every day that little voice in my head still tells me I’m ridiculous, that people hate me or I annoy them. Every day I think I’m not good enough or I think about doing something and I wonder “can I?”
We put so many barriers in front of ourselves and other people. We’re too old, too unfit, too fat, too short, too tall, not pretty enough, not confident enough, too poor or we live in the wrong city. We are all waiting for some mythical perfect point in our life when we’ll be slim, rich and at exactly the right age for people to take us seriously yet still find us cool and edgy, and all the while we are waiting for that to happen life passes us by.
The truth is it’s never too late to chase those missed opportunities down. Real life starts today.
Whether you’re 25 or 75 as long as you’re physically and mentally capable (and I mean you don’t have a broken leg or a major physical or mental disability, not you’re a bit out of shape and walking to the shop is a challenge or feel a bit frightened in front of big crowds) then you can make those changes and do the thing!
It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Every day you’re a little bit older, but it’s never too late to get that tattoo, book a Glastonbury ticket, run a Marathon or go trekking through the Andes. Find out what’s involved, what it costs do your research and take the first steps, and even if you never make it, at least you’ll have tried.
Don’t let other people’s barriers get in the way of your life.