Is your younger self holding you back?

So, having not had a drink for 6 months, I decided it was a good idea to be the designated driver to a 50th fancy dress party last weekend. Now, I tell you this because it wasn’t intentional to not drink for half a year, my social life just isn’t as it was in my younger years. Plus, I thought as it was the birthday party of a senior colleague, it wasn't the best idea to have the first drink of the year at this event. The theme of the party was 80s and 90s fancy dress, pretty easy in the grand scheme of the multitude of themes it could have been and this resulted in me avoiding thinking about what I was going to wear as the outfit would be ‘easy’ to plan as I live through both of these decades.

Forward to the day before the party and panic mode set in- no outfit, no plan and the thought of fancy dress consumed me with dread and fear, you could say I'm not one of those people who enjoys a themed evening. Luckily for me, one 80s loving work mate suggested Bananarama- perfect! All that was required was a pair of dungarees and some bright accessories- easy, I thought!

Now, although I had an outfit planned, I still spent the day leading up to the party nervous and wondering how ridiculous I’d feel with a pair of dungarees, that were frankly a little tight, and a bucket load of 80s make up on. The other thing that was plaguing my thought was the fact that I was doing this sober, yes me, never had I been sober wearing fancy dress…

So, after a day fretting, my beautiful 11-year old daughter, Brooke, did me a full on 80s make up look and it was very impressive!! My workmate came round and we got ready to go. Still not sure how I felt about the fancy dress, the anxiety still bubbled underneath the surface.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been out and to my surprise, I found that the journey alone was a lot of fun. Hearing my colleagues laughing and having fun brightened me up, and getting lost numerous times actually made the trip even more enjoyable. It was enlightening seeing another side of these people I had known for years, relaxed and joyous in their silly outfits and happy in their own skin. One might even think that the costues and make up made them behave like they were back in the 80s.

The evening was fun and no one took themselves too seriously, I even found that dressed up as someone else actually brought a more daring side out in the people around me. No one was critically looking at each other and finding fault, quite the opposite, people were congratulating each other on their fantastic costumes, make up and reminiscing about the first time they'd worn these outfits. Brooke was delighted the following day when I told her, one lady even commented on how amazing my make up was.

Now I tell you this, not to encourage you to go out and start dressing up, but to make the point that all that stress and anxiety I was feeling was totally unnecessary. It made me realise that as I have gotten older, the less frequently I go out, the more nervous I get when I do go out. It’s not about what you wear or what people think but actually putting yourself out there to spend time with people who might just help you feel happy, if even for just a moment. The fact that everyone was ‘in it together’ helped so much as everyone just embraced the evening with humour and positivity. The thing that did resonate with me during the evening was people were living in the present moment, dancing and having fun.

Comparing yourself to the past, as I frequently do, is not a great thing before a night out, ‘I’m not as young anymore’, ‘I don’t have the same figure I had when I was 25’, ‘why do I not look as pretty as I used to?’- I could go on and on but the reality is, we are not who we were 10, even 5 years ago anymore. That doesn’t make us worse, just different. Not less attractive or confident, just more experienced and conscious that life moves quickly as we start to age a little.

I want to say this to you ladies, fancy dress, drinking or not drinking, night out or night in with friends, live your life for you. Find time to spend with people who make you feel present and alive. Life is too short to worry about what has been or who we used to be and you will become much happier by embracing who you are now.

You can never get back to the person you were 15 year ago, they don't exist anymore. What you do have is you now, a beautiful, creative, authentic soul and if you can find time, living in the present moment will certainly make you feel joy.

I from now on, will be pushing myself out of my comfort zone and embracing whatever challenge comes my way. I have now realised that these are the times I learn the most and evolve into the new version of who I am now, not reminiscing about the person I used to be but celebrate her and the woman I have now become.

June 24, 2023 — Jennie Arnold

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