Have Your Dreams Changed Now That You’re Middle-Aged?

(WARNING: Complete Waffle Alert)


Yes and No. Let me tell you why.


English: Sweet dreams dreaming of snowhite and...
English: Sweet dreams dreaming of snowhite and the seven dwarves – painting by Franz Schrotzberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my first dreams, (aside from marrying Donny Osmond or Prince Charles), was to become a cook. I was queen of the cheese scone, Macaroni Cheese and Bechamel sauce growing up – back in the seventies, some time before they discovered Cholesterol – and I believed that I had the potential to be the next Masterchef.

“A COOK!” my father spat at me in horror, “but what about all that money I’ve spent on your education?”


So I didn’t become a cook – even at home.


Then I was inspired by a beautifully illustrated version of The Wind In The Willows, that was given to me as a Progress Prize at school, (notice the emphasis on ‘progress’ rather than ‘first’ or ‘second’ prize), and characteristically impulsive, I decided to become a writer and illustrator of children’s books instead – the only flaw in my plan being that I couldn’t draw to save my life and I was ‘progress’ level in English.


"Macaroni" and cheese. No macaroni w...
“Macaroni” and cheese. No macaroni was available, so I used sedanini instead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I did what every twenty-something with hidden talents and ambition does in a mild panic because their peers are all being offered fantastic jobs and I couldn’t even get an interview – I gave into my poor self-esteem. And that decision – to settle for what I COULD do, rather than what I was passionate about, has haunted me through the years.


But what about my personal dreams? Surely, they must have been more successful?


(Feminists, close your ears).


I’m not ashamed to admit that all I ever really wanted was to breed more of me and be happy – Disney has a lot to answer for. The old man never really stood a chance. (Although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wanting the fuck off house, Mercedes and diamond rings at certain points in my life, too).


So, have all my dreams been fulfilled, or have they changed now that I’m middle aged?


Again, yes and no…


Have Your Dreams Changed Now You're Middle-Aged?
Disney Couples Pt 2 by G-nuinart at http://www.flickr.com

I have the beautiful children, the bald but ‘fit’ husband and a cushy life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; and for the most part I have been healthy and happy. I still aspire to be the next Helen Fielding, and Kurt may well be beautiful to me, his mum, but he has also been sent as a lesson from God, to remind me on occasion that the perfect package doesn’t truly exist in life and you have to earn true happiness.


But the icing on this middle-aged cake is that I have a more informed idea of who I am and what I want now. I’m a very different person to the woman I was in my twenties, who had so little confidence in her own abilities to succeed. I have ‘experience’ to fortify me now, and out of that experience, some wisdom has evolved.


FUCK, I sound old!


How many times a year do YOU catch yourself saying ‘if I had my time again? or, ‘If I’d known then what I know now,’ like I do? We say it because it’s true. if I’d had this wisdom and confidence back in my twenties, my work life would certainly have gone in a very different direction. But luckily, the wisdom of maturity that I’ve acquired with age, also reminds me that regret boxes are futile and only serve to drag us down.


So what I’m trying to say, (badly…and I know I’m waffling but it’s been a tough week), is that the real difference in my dreams in middle age is that I’m excited about them now – whereas in my twenties I felt threatened by them, like the walls were closing in and I was going to run out of time. The sort of sad truth is, I really AM running out of time now but just as the pressure to look good has dissipated with age into unimportance, so has the pressure to appear ‘successful’ in the eyes of my peers. I don’t fucking care what people think of me now and it’s wonderfully liberating.


I only care about my personal goals.


And perhaps my dreams are a little more realistic now, too. They still involve my family, (who remain the most important thing in my life), and my small career goals, but mostly they involve my passion to enjoy life and live it to the full with the people I care about.


Here are my middle aged dreams:


To spoil and then hand back my grandchildren, once I persuade my kids to have them.


To earn a living as a writer.


To be able to guarantee that my children remain healthy and content with their choices in life, are driven by happiness and not money, and are NEVER tempted to pour miserably over a regret box.


That the old man and I can tolerate each other for another thirty years and be like that couple in The Notebook and die at the same time, so that neither of us has to live without the other. Because that would be very strange.


That we’re not disappointed in the retirement we’ve worked so hard towards and that when we get there, the old man doesn’t start rearranging the kitchen cupboards or telling me how to food shop.


Have your dreams changed in middle age?


8 thoughts on “Have Your Dreams Changed Now That You’re Middle-Aged?

  1. Great post. Many of my dreams have changed but perhaps they really haven’t. My circumstances have changed. I would like to travel more but now that I have more money, I have other responsibilities. I choose work based on what makes the most practical sense and I try to do things I love on the side. Sigh… Just reading my response makes me long for my youthful enthusiasm and optimism.


    1. Funny how I completely forgot about travel. Maybe I’ve got that out of my system, moving to the other side of the world. Work just doesn’t agree with me anymore due to anxiety, which is a symptom of getting older, I think, so can’t wait until I can give it up. Hope that’s not a ‘grass is greener’ thing though.


  2. I wanted to marry Donny Osmond too. I wanted to be a hairdresser and my father said, “No way after all the money we spent on your education!” I also wanted to be a children’s author and illustrator but couldn’t draw.

    Are you me?

    This is a beautiful post, Louisa. In fact when I read about how you think you’re almost out of time it brought a tear to my eye because that’s how I’ve been feeling lately.
    I love it that you listed grandchildren at the top, then writing. xxxx

    You will be the next Helen Fielding.


  3. Loved how you said you were now excited about your dreams rather than threatened by them. Whenever I’ve put my dreams on the backburner – even if they’re small ones – that’s when life becomes stagnant.

    Right after my first child was born and I was panicking about being a new parent and being home, and not having the time to write, to act, to be, to do – my husband gave me the best gift. He gave me time. He gave me time to write. I had two full weeks of uninterrupted writing time. Now, when I manage to scrape together even the smallest post, when I stick to my guns and don’t open the Facebook tab until I’m done my writing – that’s when I’m living at least part of the dream. Just the act of putting it out there, regardless of feedback – the weight on my shoulders lifts. No, I’m not completing either one of my 1/2 finished novels, no I’m not marketing the rock opera, nor the children’s books, nor my plays, but I’m writing. At this point I have a canon of works. I’ve made my husband promise that if I die young, that he totally capitalize the tragedy and make money off everything I have that’s unpublished. Although it’d still be lovely to have international acclaim, hell, Canadian acclaim, while I’m still alive, the act of creating, even just for me… dream come true.


    1. I know exactly what you mean about the weight of your shoulders when you publish a post. For me, the blog has become a therapy as well as a creative outlet and now I’m addicted, as you say, no matter if no-one reads it. I just wish that the rest of life didn’t get in the way!


  4. Love that you include that Disney couple illustration because I wanted to marry a prince too! (Edward, not charles, I’m a bit younger :p) or a millionaire (this dream quickly fall apart because millionaires in real life are not as handsome and young as in movies and TVs)
    I wanted to be hairdresser or makeup artist but my parents gave me the same line too! Those courses weren’t offered in universities and they loved the sound of ‘my child goes to a UNIVERSITY!!’
    Many of my dreams have changed and they are more realistic nowadays, and they evolved around my family and children too. That’s getting old, which sounded scary when I was younger and now, it’s fact of life.


    1. But the great thing about being older is that you can admit to having dreams about your family and children without being judged. I’m a feminist but I always found a pressure that I had to pretend I wasn’t interested in any of that when I was younger.


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