My birthday is next week and, as impending birthdays often do, it’s got me thinking about the future. Although I won’t be turning 40 next week, merely a youthful 32, I’ve been considering what I’d like the end of this decade of my existence to look like.
Rather than compiling the more traditional “40 things to do before I’m 40” list, I’ve decided to go a little more vague and set out 40 hopes for my 40-year-old self. This is partly because I struggled to nail down 40 specific experiences I’d like to have before I’m 40 (I’m not sure whether this is something to be concerned about or not!). But also because I wanted to give myself the opportunity to think about the values and attitudes I wish to hold onto (or ditch) over the next 8 years as well as the jolly japes I’d like to jaunt through.
I’m sure plenty of these could be considered rather frivolous uses of time or unnecessary concerns but, for better or worse, this is what mattered to me when I contemplated how I hoped my future self might turn out.
When I’m 40 years old I hope that I . . .
1. . . . have more than one dog
Amber humours our attempts to zoom with her but we all know she’s dissatisfied with our efforts. Pointy dogs are so fast that they’re only properly satisfied when running with another pointy dog. They may not be the most social of dogs but I think Amber and the other pointy dogs we bring into our family in the next few years would benefit from a fellow fast friend.
2. . . . am still climbing
I’d love to still be bouldering for the rest of my life and I will continue to do so if my various body parts hold out. However, I’ve heard from some climbers who are older than me that top-roping/lead/trad climbing is gentler on older joints and bones as it’s the rope that absorbs a lot of the impact of falling rather than your battered knees. As an avid boulderer, I currently have no desire to tie into a rope but if the choice is between no climbing or sport/trad climbing I know which one I’ll choose.
3. . . . still care about my clothes and sense of style
I’ve never actively followed fashion trends but I’ve gotten a lot of pleasure from my clothes throughout my life. As a teenager, I skipped gleefully around Camden Market taking in the glorious gothic garments on offer. During my twenties, I spent many a happy hour rummaging through charity and vintage shops looking for second-hand gems to tweak, personalise, and cherish. However, during lockdown, when going outside amongst my fellow humans became illegal, my enthusiasm for dressing up waned. Becoming more focused on exercise and climbing has also meant that my natural tendency to prioritise the practical over the fancy has shaped much of my wardrobe. All my jeans are now climbing jeans, I wear a lot of vest tops and T-shirts, and I often spend the whole day in whichever clothes I’ll be exercising in, even if that will only take up a small chunk of the day. And this feels a tad disappointing. The girl that loves black clothing covered in skulls, ridiculously wide and bright tartan trousers, and steampunk shirts and waistcoats still dwells within me. I’m just seeing her less often when I look in the mirror these days. This could just be sheer laziness taking over or my subconscious prioritising what seems most important at this point in my life. However, my sense of style has brought me oodles of joy up until now. I hope I can allow it to evolve as I get a little older and still satisfy the gothy teenager that I assume will dwell within me until my own head resembles the skulls I find so aesthetically pleasing for some bizarre reason.
4. . . . have been on a hiking trip to the Scottish Highlands
It just looks lovely, even when it’s pissing it down.
5. . . . don’t own vast amounts of stuff
I like owning cool stuff. I adore my metallic blue folding bicycle from the 1980s. I swoon over my ceramic goblin statue named Zigmund. I fucking love the unnecessarily large highly synthetic Pingu teddy Husband bought me for some reason while we were at university/college. What I don’t love is packing, cleaning, and generally managing vast amounts of stuff. I don’t take pleasure in rows of packed bookshelves that are a bugger to dust. Busy walls and spaces do not calm my nerves. Having to move lots of bits of furniture to give the floor a good hoover is a pain in the arse. As I discussed in a previous post, I certainly don’t embrace the colour palette of minimalist living (must everything be earth tones or white, really?) and I have no desire to live without a comfy mattress or a squishy sofa. What I would dearly love though, is a reasonably sized, comfortable house with sensible amounts of furniture and an attic bereft of junk I’ve forgotten existed.
6. . . . don’t bang on about how young the young people are too much
I accept that I will do this sometimes because I already do! There’s no need to go on about it though. The youth don’t need to be told how young they are and they don’t care that they make me feel ancient. It’s a boring conversation that doesn’t pass any knowledge or wisdom in either direction.
7. . . . have a better idea about what I want from work/a career
Even if the only conclusion I have come to is that I don’t give a toss about having a long-term, one-track career and I’m happy to be a JoJo of all trades for the rest of my days. This will be one step up from the complete indecision and confusion I currently feel about the whole “having a job” thing.
8. . . . continue to enjoy learning
9. . . . regularly sew/build/make things
10. . . . know how to upholster some items of furniture
11. . . . have attended a mixology course/masterclass/drunken fun educational cocktail holiday
The last 4 points all fall into the sub-category of learning. I am a big old nerd and don’t see that changing any time soon. I love learning about new subjects and developing new practical skills. Upholstery will probably be more useful than mixology but there’s no harm in having a bit of alcohol induced fun while expanding your skill repertoire.
12. . . . feel confident in my own knowledge, both what I know and what I don’t
At the moment, I have absolutely no qualms about admitting what I don’t know. I enjoy learning because it allows me to fill gaps in my knowledge and hopefully become a more rounded person. I think it also makes for better conversations if you happily admit that you know nothing about something and allow the other person to share their knowledge and passion for a subject freely. What I struggle to do is acknowledge what I actually do know. Even when I am internally confident that I’m right about something or I have the evidence to support my points I often hedge my bets or feel the need to give myself an out. It irritates me how often I say things like “I might be wrong” or “I think this is right but I’m not sure” when I know that I’m not talking rubbish. Humility is all well and good but my ego is sufficiently in check that I think it’s safe for me to accept my own knowledge and expertise.
13. . . . have expanded my baking repertoire
A little cake is good, more must be better.
14. . . . have completed the national three peaks challenge
I’m not generally bothered about completing strenuous and potentially unpleasant physical challenges but this one intrigues me. It’s also something Husband has done and I haven’t. For extremely petty reasons, that fact bothers me. Emotionally maturing should also probably be on this list somewhere.
15. . . . am not totally baffled by the latest technology
I’ll never be a tech wizard and I don’t care about having the latest phone or laptop. On the other hand, I would like to be able to make use of the latest innovations that genuinely make life easier and more convenient without having to ask the nearest youth how it all works too often.
16. . . . have become more politically active
I’m aware I currently fall into the category people who have many opinions and beliefs but do fuck all about them apart from the bare minimum of turning up to vote. I don’t want to do anything as drastic as running for office but I’d like to get behind a local candidate or support local causes in a more practical way. The specifics of this one need working out but I’d like to address what I see as a very hypocritical side of my personality in the next few years.
17. . . . have completed an Open University degree in Psychology
3 years completed so far, 3 to go.
18. . . . live somewhere I plan to live for more than 5 years
19. . . . attend a pub quiz and . . .
20. . . . have found someone to go to the football/local sporting event with on a regular basis
The last three fall into the same category and have similar motivations behind them. Quizzes and watching live sport are of little to no interest to Husband, meaning I’ve had to look elsewhere for people to share these activities with. This has been very difficult due to frequent house moves and working away from home on short-term contracts a lot. Finding people to share these experiences with regularly would help me to feel part of a community, which is something I find myself craving after years of a reasonably nomadic lifestyle. It would also help to persuade the frightened introvert within me that doing things with other people occasionally is OK and probably won’t result in embarrassment or injury.
21. . . . no longer care about not having read/watched/listened to the things I “should” have
I’m most of the way there on this one but in certain company I still feel embarrassed that I haven’t watched The Godfather or read Wuthering Heights, despite the fact I have no desire to do either. None whatsoever. I think the idea that people “should” absorb any pieces of culture that they're not interested in because a bunch of old white blokes decided they’re classics is ridiculous. By the time I’m 40 I hope I can proudly hold my head up high and declare “No, I haven’t seen Gone with the Wind and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.
22. . . . own more than one comfortable pair of glasses that I can keep on my head all day, every day
My eyesight is appalling. I have been predominantly wearing the same pair of glasses since I was 17 and I fear the day the glasses that have been perched upon my snoot for over a decade eventually break. I’ve tried other pairs and I can usually manage to keep them on my face for a few days at most before getting a headache or excruciatingly sore ears. Someone with as rubbish eyeballs as me should not be dependent on one pair of glasses. It’s asking for trouble and if I haven’t sorted this out by the time I’m forty I shall be extremely disappointed in myself.
23. . . . haven’t stopped spending time with all my friends who have children
I’m terrible with children so there’s no chance of me filling the role of cool-not-actually-related-aunt JoJo in the lives of my friends’ children. However, I do hope I’m able to get past my awkwardness around any human under the age of 10 in order to maintain the friendships I have with people who do want to have children. Either that or I can happily fill the role of friend you go to when you’re sick to death of the screaming infants you’ve created and want to get drunk and behave irresponsibly. I’m very much up for that.
24. . . . have at least 10 different types of gin in my cupboard/very large drinks globe
No further explanation required. Gin is great.
25. . . . live somewhere with excellent public transport
A good public transport network creates a more equal society, improves people’s health, encourages social interaction, reduces congestion, is better for the planet, and means you can drink more than two pints on a night out. Cars are convenient but buses will save the world!
26. . . . have a picture of Husband and I on the wall that I don’t low level dislike
I’m sure this is a struggle that lots of people who are regularly photographed together experience. We have plenty of photos of one of us looking lovely and the other looking gormless. One day someone, probably a professional photographer, will take a photo of us both looking glorious and I shall display it on my wall with pride.
27. . . . have a small but splendid circle of close friends
I’m introverted enough to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to close friends. I don’t need many, just a few I can count on when the shit hits the fan.
28. . . . have been to Canada and seen my 2 friends that currently live there
I had tickets booked to do this in June 2020 but we all know what happened to screw that up. The idea of not seeing these 2 people outside of a computer screen in the next 8 years is very upsetting and I sincerely hope I have the chance to reschedule this trip.
29. . . . understand my pension/retirement financial plans
I have a pension but I don’t really know how it works. I made it a goal for last year to set one up because I’d been putting it off for a while. Now I've got that far it seems sensible to take it one step further and have a better idea of exactly what I need for a comfortable retirement. Dull, but sensible.
30. . . . continue to push myself to do the things that scare me
I’m not a mad thrill seeker. I don’t need to do anything as extreme as skydiving or base jumping to venture outside of my comfort zone. Ensuring I don’t get too deeply set in my ways and reluctant to change or try new things should be enough to keep me stimulated and not too stagnant.
31. . . . haven’t grown up too much
The day I stop loving Lego, Disney films, bad puns and fart jokes is the day my life has truly ended.
32. . . . am still able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat
This is my most useful, if not especially glamorous, superpower and I never want to lose it!
33. . . . have dipped my feet in many more lakes/rivers/seas/oceans
Paddling is one of my most cherished simple pleasures. When I worked in touring theatre, my favourite weeks were always in locations by the sea or near lakes. I’d go for a stroll or hop on my folding bicycle and pedal my way to the waterside, hang my shoes off the back of my rucksack, and enjoy the icy cold water on my sweaty feet. I can’t explain why this brings me such satisfaction and pleasure. It just soothes my soul.
34. . . . still enjoy superhero movies
Part of the whole “not growing up too much” thing.
35. . . . take an active interest in other people’s passions and interests
aka do not become a self-centred twat. I don’t think it’s a high-risk issue but I consider it worth keeping an eye on.
36. . . . have a local pub where the staff ask if Husband and I want “the usual”
This hope definitely comes from too many years of watching Coronation Street. The staff at the Rovers Return seem to know the favourite drink of every person on the street by the end of their first shift behind the bar. I find the idea of achieving status as a “regular” rather heartwarming. Assuming this is because I pop in every Thursday evening for a couple of drinks with Husband, not because I’m waiting at the door when they open at 11am for my triple gin and tonic to get me through to lunch time.
37. . . . have flown in a helicopter or hot air balloon
Don’t really mind which one, or both, they look like a good laugh.
38. . . . still have the iPod I bought when I was 17 and that it still works
Fuck you Apple and your planned obsolescence.
39. . . . am understanding and forgiving of the good and bad decisions I made in my thirties
I’ve written in previous posts about having to reflect on the actions of my younger self and realise they were committed with the best of intentions and to the best of my former self’s knowledge. I think it would be very beneficial to my ego and self-image if I could take that forgiving attitude forward into my next decade because I doubt I’m finished making questionable decisions.
40. . . . am looking forward to being in my forties
I didn’t dread turning 30. I had some wonderful times during my twenties, but the end of that particular decade didn’t feel like a moment worthy of mourning. It didn’t seem like the tragic end of my youth as it’s often portrayed in films or TV shows. I’d like to think I will greet my next decade with a similar level of nonchalance and composure.
Do you have any hopes and dreams for your future self? Are they similar or different to my own? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!