Funny old things birthdays, don’t you think? They’re a bit like New Year’s Eve – as the big day looms you can’t help but mull over where you are in life and what, if anything, stands in the way of where you want to be.
I’ve had a good year, a fulfilling year and, most importantly, a healthy year. I remember getting through chemo first time round and celebrating my fortieth a few months later. What a milestone that was. I’m quite happy to gloat about the fact that I glowed that night. I felt radiant and unstoppable. I’d survived something huge and vowed to myself that from then on I would embrace each passing year with nothing other than a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for simply being alive and would never, ever complain about ageing again.
And on a deep level, I’ve stuck to that. Of course I know how lucky I am to be here and I think I do a pretty good job of appreciating what’s important in life. But jeez, I’ve got a way to go when it comes to fully loving and embracing the er..’maturing’ me, the middle aged me, the me that doesn’t quite know where she fits, where to shop and if the neon coloured slogan sweatshirts she’s taken to wearing are a good move or a little silly for someone so deeply into a drug induced menopause that there ain’t no going back.
I threw myself into the world of Instagram about eighteen months ago and it’s been a fantastic addition to my life. All the good stuff is easy to list – the gorgeous, life affirming connections, the confidence gained from having fun with silly stories, from being less painfully self conscious and also the feeling that comes when you post something and people respond, take the time to engage and, as a result, new conversations are born. But lately, I’ve also been struggling a little bit with imposter syndrome. Buttons are being pressed and raw nerves are being knocked. Am I trying too hard? How do I come across? Am I ever so slightly desperate? What am I trying to achieve by feeling the need to keep those that very kindly follow me updated with the mundane events of a Monday morning whilst using the slice of toast filter from Snapchat?
I don’t want to care about numbers and who follows me or who doesn’t. I KNOW that stuff doesn’t matter. I don’t want to waste a minute of my precious life feeling rubbish because I’ve lost twenty followers in as many hours when surely, surely I should know better.
It’s all been said before and far more eloquently than I’m doing right now (it’s Sunday night for god’s sake – I’m an empty husk and can barely keep my eyes open) – comparison is poison and we’re all emotionally intelligent enough to know that what we see in those perfect little squares isn’t always a true reflection of how someone’s life really is. But the fact is, a trigger is a trigger is a trigger and I think I need to do a little work on healing some of mine.
And so what exactly is the point of these late night ramblings on my birthday eve? I’m not really sure. Maybe I’m just writing a little ‘note to self’… maybe I’m hoping to reconnect with the me who glowed on her fortieth. Who felt so glad and grateful to be alive that she could have confidently sworn never to give the passing of time a second’s thought ever again.
I really need to sort this out. I need to run naked down the street or something, wonky boobs and mastectomy scars out for all to see. I need to get a grip. Happy Birthday, Em – you see those crows feet that are deepening by the day? Remember, those dark days in the chemo ward when all you wanted was the guarantee that one day you would have crows feet?
I’ll just leave it there.