Are you a real proper grown-up?

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I have a house (and manage to pay the mortgage), I am married with children. I even work! Yet a part of me is forever young. I don’t mean in a crazy, fun teenager way, forever out clubbing and getting drunk. No, my kind of ‘young’ is more gawky than that, about 12 years old I’d say: A little socially awkward, not quite learned when I should keep my mouth shut and constantly feeling that I’m worthy of praise for being so grown-up.

Surely I deserve a medal or gold star for consistently getting my children to school on time, or owning cake tins and Tupperware? Remarkable feats for a 12 year old indeed. When life gets too much, it is understandable; I should be focusing on simple things like pony riding and who my best friend is.

Many of us feel we are playing a part in life, it’s the classic imposter syndrome where we feel our luck will run out and someone will eventually work out we are a fraud.

I hope I’m not alone, so I’ve devised a quiz to work out what stage of life you are truly at. Let me know…

Question 1

What do you think when you’ve been invited to a party?

  1. I wonder how much booze there will be.
  2. Whether I will get home for bedtime.
  3. Whether my best friend is going.

Question 2

What is your writing like?

  1. It’s a bit of a scrawl because I normally use my phone.
  2. Slanted and flowing.
  3. Round and bubbly, possibly with hearts over the ‘i’s

Question 3

How many items in your house have been purloined from your parents’ home?

  1. 1 or 2, maybe just some of my old toys from childhood.
  2. None, I’ve bought everything myself.
  3. More than 5, including nail clippers, kitchen scissors, recipe books, laundry baskets and a funny egg timer thing.

Question 4

What’s your favourite sandwich?

  1. Cheese and chips.
  2. Smoked salmon and cream cheese.
  3. Nutella.

Question 5

If you broke your leg tripping over in the street, who would you want to visit you first?

  1. Your partner or best friend.
  2. Your lawyer.
  3. Your mum.

Question 6

What did you think when you watched Frozen?

  1. It was a necessary update of the ‘every princess needs a prince’ cliché.
  2. I’ve never watched it.
  3. So beautiful, made me cry.

Question 7

What time do you like to go to bed?

  1. About 1 am but sometimes later.
  2. Lights out at 11 pm after reading.
  3. Before 9.30 pm.

Question 8

How do you find quizzes like this?

  1. Just a bit of fun.
  2. Totally ridiculous, I don’t have time for them.
  3. I do loads of them, they are so insightful.

Results

Mainly a)

You are a teenager – up for having fun but streetwise and no one is going to tell you what to do.

Mainly b)

You are middle aged – sensible and practical your idea of having fun is to drink slightly more than the government’s recommended units of alcohol (by consuming good quality wine).

Mainly c)

You are twelve – just on the cusp of puberty you don’t really know who you are but that’s ok unless you have to make any big decisions in which case you may cry.

Life’s not a race, it’s a slow dance…

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Photo by Phil Barnes Photography

I’ve hurt my knee. I’ll pause there to allow for the violins to play because I can’t deny it, I do feel rather sorry for myself and expect everyone else to as well. I’m usually one of those busy, rushing, clock-watching people. Always telling the kids to hurry up and catch up. Only now I’m not.

There is one advantage to living life at a gentler pace. You see so much more and appreciate so much more of the world around. As local naturalist Mark Cocker recently wrote, taking a more leisurely pace brings fascinating natural encounters, in his example a weird longhorn moth; “Almost at every step in this season something remarkable makes our acquaintance. Perhaps it is because as I get older I walk slower and have more encounters of this kind.”

Children too, take life at a different pace, one minute haring at break neck speed, but then suddenly stopping to look at things that interest them on life’s journey. When you want to get somewhere with young children, it can be infuriating that the snail on the wall must be studied in detail, and then the red spider mites on the pavement must be counted (impossible). Yet when you switch off that permanent internal clock, always tick-tocking noisily away, then crouch down and look too, you can have an entirely different experience of life, one that is rich with little moments of discovery.

Slowing down is good for us on many levels. Firstly, it’s about doing things properly; quality over quantity. It’s about slow food that is locally sourced and cooked from scratch. It’s about breathing deeply and calmly rather than the short, shallow inhalations that make many of us feel permanently anxious. It makes us nicer people to be around too – we listen more and give other people a little more of ourselves before the next thing claims our attention.

Secondly, it is vital for the environment. Faster travel is generally more polluting (I’m willing to make an exception for train travel here). Taking the self-propelled, slower option will always save carbon and be more sustainable. You can learn to love the journey rather than just the destination.

Slowing down means taking a moment to feel the sun (or rain!) on your skin and to smell the air. Look up into the sky and see if you can see any birds like swifts or swallows up high, and to find out what the clouds are doing. Are there flowers on the grass verge, or insects? Connecting with nature takes time, but not much. It is all around us, wherever you live, but we choose to rush on by, checking our phone as we go.

Many of us are missing out on a lot. I still expect those violins to play when I mention my knee troubles (it really does hurt you know), but I’m hoping that even as it heals I’ll keep my pace gentle and not waste my time by rushing.

First published in the EDP and EADT