It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’ll be 44 years old. Even as I write that I wonder where the last 20 years have gone. It’s true, time does speed up as you get older.
I’ve struggled with birthdays in the past. They make me feel like life is passing me by, that I haven’t done enough and that it’s getting too late for me to do what I want to do. And that’s all true. I haven’t done enough and it is getting too late for me to do everything I want to do, but that’s what life is like. You can never do everything. What you can do, though, is make the most of the time you have.
This became apparent to me about 12 months ago. I was talking to my cousin, who’s two months older than me but infinitely wiser, and complaining about the fact that we were getting older. She just shrugged and said, “It’s better than the alternative”.
And she’s right. When I think of the people I’ve lost over the last couple of years and how fragile life is, it makes me realise that I’m lucky to be having another birthday and I’m lucky to be getting older. Instead of thinking about what I haven’t done and may never do, I’m going to try and focus on how to best utilize the time I have left. Instead of regretting squandered opportunities and the fact that it took me to age of 40 to work out what I wanted to be when I grow up, I’m going turn it into a positive. All going well, I figure I’ve got at least 20 years left in the workforce (it’s only women in front of the camera that have an expiry date, right?). That’s 20 years to practice my craft and develop my skills and, hopefully, make films and series that connect with people in some way.
And getting older has its advantages. If I’m going to be completely honest, I couldn’t have done what I’m doing now 20 years ago. I was a different person back then. I was still trying to find out who I was and, in the process, pretending to be someone I’m not. That, in itself, can take up all your energy. At the age of 44, I’ve now got vastly more experience to draw on, I feel like I understand people better and, more importantly, I understand myself better than I ever had. I've still got a lot to learn and I'm looking forward to learning as much as I can.
So rather than wish I’d come to this 20 years ago, I’m going to try and be thankful that I’ve come to it at all. Some people never have that. If you are lucky enough to work out what you love, what drives you, and what gives your life meaning, you owe it to yourself and those around you to make the most of it while you can.
By Julie Kalceff