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  • Writer's pictureCorinne Yeadon

The Big Five Oh!

I have a big birthday coming up in June. I genuinely don’t have an issue with becoming 50, other than it sounding very grown up. Having experienced the death of both parents and a dear friend prematurely, my view of ageing is not something that has a negative impact on me. It may be unrealistic to anticipate waking on my birthday with a wealth of wisdom, self realisation and healthy acceptance of life’s path but it would be nice.

In younger years there can exist a belief that financial security and wealth equates to happiness and fulfilment. “When I am 40, I will have… I will be…”

Undoubtedly finances provide elements of security and reduce certain stresses but the adage of money not buying happiness is certainly true. Unrealistic ambitions and expectations are often placed on ourselves, by ourselves.

If I’m genuinely honest I would have predicted having more financial comfort by my half century but I am pretty philosophical about how my life has mapped out.

I am not exactly ecstatic about the menopause or creaky joints that have snuck up on me over recent years. I always prided myself as being physically, ‘as strong as an ox’ but wear and tear and unhealthy habits have left their mark.

The expectations of others tend to be around birthday celebrations and inclusion in plans. This element can cause untold stress and grief. I initially felt compelled to organise a large scale celebration, which I could ill afford. I feel it is important to mark occasions’ but this does not need to be an elaborate, costly party for everyone else. Many events were mooted and discounted for a variety of reasons. I felt a genuine pressure to arrange one or more events to meet everyone’s needs.

I was aware I was becoming ridiculously preoccupied with planning a birthday bonanza and was becoming stressed to the point of being unable to make a decision at all. I even toyed with the idea of a holiday to avoid birthday nonsense completely and also prevent excluding someone and causing offence.

My realisation was that I didn’t want an all singing, all dancing jamboree. As we mature, we change and develop, celebrations I enjoyed at 20 or 30 do not hold the same appeal at 50.

I reminded myself that birthday plans were supposed to be fun and not a source of stress and worry.

I have set my stall out to be bloody minded. I have considered what makes me happy and what I enjoy? I am happy to celebrate with others but really don’t want the headache and responsibility of organising something. I also have a tendency to want to control everything and an inability to graciously hand over the reins. However, I have done so, admittedly with some reluctance. I understand that it is unfair to expect people to mind read your wishes and I have elected to be direct to avoid a birthday princess display of petulant, disgruntlement. I often remark that we are all kids in big bodies, birthdays tend to elicit our inner child into the fore for some reason. There appears to be either a need to be cherished and showered with attention or a resolute, arm folding, I’m not playing attitude.

I considered that the grown up thing to do would be to avoid gifts and instead ask for donations to a chosen charity but the child in me is screaming, “Cards and Presents please!” I continue to wrangle with my conscience and justify this decision in a bid to reconcile myself with my inner ‘Veruca Salt.’

I’m actually looking forward to my birthday. At the beginning of the year I set intentions in terms of places to go, things to see and do. I have accomplished most of them, the remainder are booked in for the birthday bonanza week.

I have a troublesome knee causing me problems at the moment, but have made a decision to adapt rather than cancels plans. Age can bring a confidence and assertiveness lacking in youth, whatever happens I will be holding court in a glam frock even if it’s on crutches!

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