January. Some people see it as standing at the foot of a glorious ascent into the magnificent unknown. For others it’s a clean slate – a new start – maybe a chance to make amends to others, ourselves or the body. And for those like myself, it can seem like a leap into the yawning chasm of uncertainty as the friendly hand of the old year releases its grip. I seem to anticipate loss rather than gain. It seems safer than to be hurt or disappointed.
The start of the New Year brings the obligatory looking back at the previous 12 months. In addition, this year has had people reviewing the past decade as we move into the 20s.
Social media has had its new decade ‘thing’, with people posting pictures of themselves 10 years apart. For the young this is an often funny, sweet delve into the cute clothes, smiley faces and chubby cheeks of their childhood snaps. For me I found myself poring over Facebook photos from 2009/10, trying to pinpoint where my thoughts were at that time, whether the age spot on my face was smaller then – if I had fewer wrinkles.
In 2010 my children were still young – 12 and 7 . They needed me every day and the kitchen table was a hive of activity rather than the solitary work station it is today. Life revolved around school, dance classes, nit-combing, helping with homework and cuddles. I often felt exhausted and overwhelmed. As it all became too much to juggle, I took a two year break from work until my youngest had finished lower school.
2010 was also the time I parted ways with organised religion. I had spent the previous 20 years exploring every flavour of Christianity there was – and found myself back at vanilla. I needed space to ponder and ask questions – the answers of which I hadn’t yet found in the four walls of a church building or amongst the ‘other worldliness’ of the Happy Clappies. I was feeling let down by it all.
Some friends too appear to be cyclical. The school gate and church seem to account mostly for these. Friends I was close to a decade ago I hardly ever see today. I knew their landline number by heart and yet now I know nothing about their lives. Social media allows a brief connection to some, but those who never joined or who are concerned about privacy, have slipped away, along with my memory of their phone number.
So, what have I achieved in the past decade ? Sipping a ‘rather too heavy on the gin’ and tonic the other evening I had declared to someone who had popped up on Messenger, who, coincidently I hadn’t spoken to for a decade, that I hadn’t achieved anything since I last spoke to them. It feels like that sometimes when I look around at my physical surroundings. My kitchen drawers certainly feel that way as they bravely hang on in for another decade. In truth, though, I have achieved quite a bit – just not things that can be easily measured .
* In 2012 I started the job I am still in today, This brought me some new, wonderful friends and a wealth of new knowledge.
*I have learnt to question my faith and be happy with that, without losing it completely.
* I have done my very best to be a good Mum to my girls and today I have my eldest, a confident young woman, living , working and studying away from home and my youngest, happy at 6th form college.
* I took on a little rescue dog from Cyprus, who has brought so much joy to our family.
* I have learned to fight against myself less -to make a decision and stick to it and to not expect change from others. That has been the primary reason I feel more content than a decade ago.
* I am now honest about what I like and don’t like – I have learned to say ‘No’ and not seek the approval of others for my decisions. I probably like myself better than 10 years ago too.
The next decade will have different challenges. I am ageing – gah ! – and so are those I love dearly, including my little dog. The risk of unwanted change is greater as you age – especially when you cross the half-way line !
At least there is one thing I can nearly be sure of when this next decade ends. I won’t be counting more grey hairs – not visible ones anyway, and not on my scalp ! My lovely hairdresser sees to that.