There is something utterly transformative about turning 40. Your 20s are where you are young, live frivolously, make lots of mistakes. Towards the end of your 20s you might start to climb the career ladder which continues way into your 30s. People expect you in your 30s to get married and have kids but the 40s…well…let’s be honest, people’s expectations dwindle.
Now I don’t say that with a hint of melancholy but with a sense of total and utter liberation.
Your 40s are where you start to learn the subtle art of not giving a flying f***. What you thought was important, you suddenly realise isn’t very. Instead, there is a sense of freedom in letting go.
Here are some of the ways in which I have found myself letting go:
- I’ve never really been a careerist but I’ve realized that climbing the ladder is of little interest to me if it is to compromise leading a happy life away from school. Having a life away from school is so much more important.
- I no longer make huge efforts with people I neither like nor fully respect. The fact of life is that there will be people you like and people you dislike (and vice versa) and life should be spent with those you care for. Quality over quantity.
- Hang ups drag you down. The conversations I have had with girlfriends when they aren’t in a relationship or the diets they wish to try because they think they are too fat. Concerning ourselves too much with these things actually is such an utter waste of time. What will be will be and we do well when we embrace all our foibles and reframe what we feel we are lacking, to embracing, or seeing as future potential opportunities.
Instead, I have learnt that focusing your energy on your passions in life is where it’s at. And so, for 2021 my word is PASSION. (And no this is not related to the man kind of passion, although here’s hoping ;-)!)
So the things that I am passionate about and will strive to do more of in 2021 are
- Travel – ok, so this is still going to be tricky (for half a year at least I’m guestimating) but I love travelling. First trip will be back to the UK and then I have a long overdue date with Budapest. Lyon is topping a lot of European city charts so maybe some time there too.
- Food – I LOVE food. Despite various lockdowns, I have been able to eat out a lot and will continue to do so in 2021. I loved doing an Italian cooking class and would happily sign up for more. I need to order more cookbooks and spend more time cooking and chasing down those elusive ingredients in the corners and crevices of Rome. I should also add I love wine and WAC (our wine appreciation club at school is a thing of wonder on a Friday afternoon!)
- Art – I am a creative soul and love art galleries. Picasso is my favourite artist and Impressionism is my favourite period. I recently went to an art class with a friend and would love to learn more and do more art work. I have a friend who attends so many classes and is just superb – Anna, that’s you!
- Reading. I love to read but go through funks. I didn’t hit my Goodreads target this year but am settled with this, what with a major pandemic and all. However, I am going to commit to reading every day, if only for a chapter. I will read the entire Carnegie nominations list…
- Research. I am passionate about Research Informed Practice. I’m doing the CTeach programme and although I have my struggles (my lit review is potentially the hardest piece of academic writing I have ever had to do), I love dedicating time to reading journals, articles, blogs, books and learning more and more to help me be the best teacher I can be.
- Teaching – I am passionate about the pupils I teach. Trying to be the best teacher I can be for them….they are wonderful and inspiring and so so good and teaching them is an utter privilege and joy.
My biggest passion though is for life. I recently, like many others, watched the film Soul and it is absolutely spot on when it encourages us to see the magic in the mundane…because in actual fact, turning 40 makes you realise just how much beauty, joy and utter contentment can be found when life is kept so very very simple.
So 2021…live and die by my passions…live simply and find joy as much as possible. And if it doesn’t bring joy, simply stop doing it.
Buon Anno tutti!