“Old, bitter lady”-age is the perfect time to pull a Thelma & Louise

The writings and discussion around ageing sparked by Modern Women’s January prompts have me thinking even more about what I’d like to see going forward.

As I wrote before, I’m okay with growing older, I don’t mind the wrinkles as I never felt particularly comfortable in my own skin when I was younger.

I never saw myself as being pretty (though I recognised that this was an asset to those who had it), so I intentionally set out to sharpen and nourish my mind instead.

This means I have no fear of losing beauty I never had in the first place, and the more I practise I get in thinking like an old white man, the better I’m becoming at not equating how I look to how competent I am.

Once I had a friend, a BFF.

We still get together occasionally as our kids are of age, but we’re not as close as we once were. She went from my BFF to my bully in school and then to my unlikely friend as we grew older.

I say unlikely because if we met today, I doubt we’d be friends.

But with old friends, those who have been a fixture in your life for so long it feels weird without them, the point isn’t whether we’d be friends it we met today.

The point is that we’ve journeyed together for so long, we’ve been witness to events in each others’ lives that few outside of being family can claim.

When she suddenly turned on me, going from BFF to bully when a newer, shinier friend who was into make-up and boys came along, I was deeply hurt.

I don’t know if that whole experience made it harder for me to make friends, or if I’ve just always struggled to connect with people. But in the decades that followed, I never made another friend as close as her.

And now — as a hopefully older, wiser version of myself — I know that I’m okay with and without friends.

I married my best friend at 22 and almost two decades later, we’re still here.

So, it’s not that I can’t connect with other people, I just struggle to do so. Growing up autistic without any awareness or support for it, I’ve become a master at masking (as many autistic women have) and so people think I’m a social butterfly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I crave personal connection one-on-one but I struggle to find the people who are right for this.

For a large portion of my life, I was attracted to people who only sought to abuse me, ended up in relationships where I was being used as a crutch.

Which was incredibly lonely as for several years, I felt like I was just walking away from people over and over again.

So, Alice, if we’re making wishes, I wish for a friend.

A co-conspirator who sees the world much like I do, who laughs at the same jokes for the same reasons as I do, who is both similar and different enough that we can rock out to Bach as easily as to the Foo Fighters.

Someone with whom I don’t have a vast ideological (theological) gap, because I have a lot of religious in-laws that I already have to tow that line with regularly.

Another seeking creative who intimately knows that spark of creating and can’t get enough of it.

Someone who’ll go out for coffee as easily as to a dance class.

Someone who knows themselves well and has learned how to draw healthy boundaries, because I’m done being a subcontractor for other people’s unprocessed emotions.

Heck, why not a whole group of friends?

Why stop at one? I don’t need another emotionally needy person leeching onto me so that they can dump their emotions on me.

With a whole group of mischievous queens the onus of carrying the relationship is spread among the whole group, rather than falling on just one person.

And when you drop the ball, there are more people to pick it up, which inherently makes the relationship easier to carry.

Right now, any potential friend groups are prevented by all the people being in silos which are very difficult to connect.

I’ve been doing my introvert best and attending a bunch of PTA events, but there’s the language barrier, there’s a cultural barrier, and in some cases there’s an age barrier.

Things just don’t line up, and I can’t force it.

One of the things I’ve always really craved — as the daughter of a single mum with few relatives — is community.

That’s one of those things I hope to find in my 40s.

I’m looking forward to one more big move between countries (it’s going to be one big hassle, but worth it) and maybe, just maybe, that’s a chance to start doing things I’ve never done before.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

— Alfred Einstein

Where once I saw my 40’s as being very far away, now they’re right around the corner.

And while I’m content as I am now, I think it would be fun to pull a Thelma & Louise with avecs (though without the tragic ending) later in life.

On the whole, we’re living longer than ever before, meaning that there’s still a lot of life left to get through before the show’s over.

While I’m not going to be as cheesy as saying it’s a “second spring” or something like that, I am going to say that I look forward to what life has in store.

I don’t feel old, as I once imagined I would, I don’t even feel 100% comfortable in my own skin… yet.

But I’m getting there.

I’ve completed a lot of the work of being a human being yet have a lot more to go still.

Despite what society tells me about being this age, I don’t feel old.

I don’t think I’m even supposed to, no matter how old 40 felt when I was 18.

But maybe now I’m 18 with 22 years of experience.

And maybe now’s the time to lay the foundation for what’s to come.

Maybe I don’t have to lose that sense of hope I had when I was younger and everyone was telling me my life was ahead of me, insinuating that at some point it would be behind me, lost forever if I didn’t make the most of it at the time.

But I’m a late bloomer.

My life is better than ever only now.

My relationship with myself is better than ever only now.

And all this means is that my life is far from over, because I’m still overflowing with it.

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