For the Niners

Hard to distil a busy year into just six pictures…

It was during a podcast recording that the creative director of a branding agency made an interesting observation, in that a key group of people to target with lifestyle or life-changing products are the ‘niners’. Those on the cusp of moving into a new decade. It’s something that’s frequently noted in popular culture – the many rom coms and sitcoms about friends about to turn 30, 40, 60, and how they make drastic changes because of this. Having only experienced two previous ‘niner’ years, it’s not something I’ve really given much thought.  

Turning 10 came with the excitement of double figures, but was still a year off the big change to secondary school so life – from what I remember (not a lot) – just ticked on. 

My 19th birthday landed on the day I moved into university halls, with a whole load of change happening anyway. It was an inevitability, rather than driven consciously by my own ambitions – the last year of my teens was filled my uni course, moving back home, and gaining a bit of independence. I wouldn’t describe it as pivotal, or even particularly memorable, other than the thrill of nervous excitement that a few months later ended with me moving back home (another more boring story). 

In the final year of my 20s, I was in a very good position. I was in a job I had loved for four years, settled and confident in my role. We were approaching our 5th wedding anniversary, and enjoying our new home with none of the stresses of renovating. For all intents and purposes, life was ‘perfect’. 

And yet, I felt a restlessness that I’d not had before. I realised that I’d been in the same situation for the longest time since leaving high school – with university being three years, and then stints in jobs and relocations lasting up to around two. That situation was a great one to be in, comfortable and balanced, particularly with all the upheaval in the world over the last few years. Please don’t think me ungrateful – I’m extremely aware of how fortunate we have been, and the privileged positions we’ve found ourselves in. But it turned out I was ready for change.  

Whether that was due to the approaching 30th birthday, or just a part of my nature itching for a new challenge, I’m not sure. But the timing was very coincidental that something had shifted, and I no longer felt satisfied.  

I got back into going to the gym regularly, reinvigorating my strength & conditioning – largely prompted by a bad back spasm after a gardening afternoon in the spring – and getting back on track with fitness and routine. (Ironically, just as I feel more secure in who I am as a person, my body image has hit an all-time low since my teens – perhaps a subconscious panic about getting older..? But something I’m choosing not to dwell on and instead make more positive changes.) 

Whilst I was still enjoying the day to day of my job, there was a building frustration that took a while to identify. Upcoming projects just didn’t feel as exciting as they once had, and the passion that had pushed me over the years dwindled. I couldn’t see a way forward, knowing I needed to change but not seeing a path to make that happen. 

There was hesitation to actively start ‘job-hunting’ as that felt too deliberate, like I was admitting I was no longer happy. But as often happens in these situations, my head was turned by an unexpected opportunity that pinged up one day on LinkedIn. Long story short, I landed the role. A step up into a place of autonomy and authority, where I’ll need to have even more faith in my abilities. Just a couple of months in, and it’s clear it was the right move with a huge amount of potential ahead which I’m already raring to explore. 

I’ve worn contact lenses since I was about 16, and have never had any problems. But I’ve often thought about laser eye surgery – even more so as Simon had his (much worse) eyes done a year or so before we met and never looked back. Again, despite years of procrastinating, my 30th year was the catalyst for actually making it happen. In early November, after one job finishing and before the over was to begin, I took the plunge and after a few days of discomfort, am still astonished that I can wake up every day and see. I can’t wait to go into next year with more freedom, the ability to play in the sea without goggles, and no longer needed to lug around all the paraphernalia of contact lenses. 

As I walk firmly through these early months of my 30s – which started rather incredibly in New York – I feel more determined than ever. The last few years have brought upheaval in a number of forms – not least on a global scale, but also medically for me. But it’s also helped me rediscover my love of theatre as I now find myself reviewing productions for Matinee Radio. I’ve completed three triathlons – having never thought I’d even manage one – and already have one booked for 2023 with another ready to commit to. I’ve thrown myself into my marketing career, completing a diploma and becoming Chartered, with everything still to come in my new job.  

The cusp of a new year is always filled with anticipation, a little nerves, and some excitement of all that potential. But this year feels particularly different – less externally pressured than my twenties, and more about continuing to prove to myself of everything I’m capable of. Let’s get stuck in.

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