Thirty (part one)

There are a lot of things to say about turning thirty so I’m going to split it into parts. Here’s part one.

When I was 24 I wrote an e-mail to myself via a website called FutureMe. Once it’s written and sent you can’t edit it and this afternoon it arrived. Reading it is slightly strange – it’s me but not me at the same time.

So here it is, unedited, and I’ll refrain from commenting (at least for now):

The following is an e-mail from the past, composed on Thursday, December 11, 2003, and sent via
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Dear FutureMe, hello!
well, last week i had a moment of absolute fear as i was brushing my hair one morning that i am nearly thirty and as yet still unmarried and not participating in climbing any kind of career ladder. the moment passed when i realised that six years off is not ‘nearly’ by any stretch of the imagination, and rational johanna once more regained the control she has so capably and efficiently been exercising for the past few weeks.
however, not two days ago i was horrified to discover…


this is not like the ‘grey hairs’ my mum delighted finding in my hair when i was 18 whilst we were in the middle of boots shopping in blackpool and shouting ‘oo look a grey hair and you’re only eighteen’ and that upon examination turned out to be blonde. oh no. this was a real grey hair.

so mild panic began to rise, especially as i recently spoke to simon the ex who is having a personal crisis about being thirty in 16 days time, and how he is not where he thought he would be now when he was 20. and i began to wonder about what i expected my life to be like when i am thirty and whether this is realistic or predictable. obviously it isn’t the second. in my mind i thought, i’d like to be married to someone christian and intelligent who appreciates the arts and maybe have one child and another in mind. i would like to have pursued the beginnings of an interesting career that i could take up again once my children are at school in a few years time. and i’d like to not be living in fleetwood still. maybe not realistic either. the panic mounts as i realise that six years isn’t very long at all to ‘achieve’ all of these things.

and bear in mind that all the time my house is getting more and more in need of cleaning and tidying and i’m never at home because i’m out virtually evey evening spending my time talking to moody, smelly and wierd teenagers. if i can’t organise my life so that my house is in order, how will i organise myself a husband, kid and career in the next 6 years!!!

so i decided to find a box to empty some drawers to make more room for my socks, and this involved clearing out the cupboard under the stairs (it’s amazing how things pile up on you in 12 months) which made me feel much better – having grappled with something monstrous and messy and overcoming it – and helped me find a box. what was in the now new sock drawers were bags and boxes of random bits and pieces that i have kept for years – letters, cinema tickets, teenage diaries, little notes from flatmates – nice things. i had a nice time sorting them all out and found a list i had made right at the end of university.

you may remember because you were there, sitting in the crags and talking about what you would like to do with the rest of our lives – our ambitions and hopes, and alison walker was talking about how it would ‘never be the same again – we’d never be together again – ever…’. anyway i wrote my list (and so did she i think) and this was the list i found – my list of life ambitions. some things are ridiculous e.g. ‘live on orkney for a year’ ‘contribute something meaningful and memorable to society’, ‘write a novel’ etc. but i ws very surprised to see that i have already fulfilled three of the things listed on ‘My Great List of Lifetime Ambitions’ – i have this year (very luckily, I feel) ‘visited the Louvre’, ‘been to New York in the autumn’ and ‘stood on top of the Empire State Building’.

it cheered me up. if i can tick off three things on my lifetime ambition list as fulfilled in 18 months then maybe i can expect to be vaguely happy in six years time.

anyway, firmly back on planet earth and no longer having a premature mid-life crisis, i was fully equiped (ish) to break up a teenage girl cat fight last night at the dreamscheme and get a lift home in a police car. oh yes. very exciting.

i hope you’re feeling happy today – life’s not worth panicking about is it? really? think about all the love and friendship you’ve experienced and thank God!

or maybe you need a laugh now – in which case visit the world beard championship website. i always said i liked a man with a beard but this is really a bit much…

love you lots
your slightly psycho 24 year old self


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