There are certain facts about me which I know aren’t actually true, yet a small part of me still believes them, in spite of evidence to the contrary.
1) I can still fit in miniscule clothing: I was way too thin in my teenage years and throughout my twenties. I had to buy tiny belts from children’s wear shops to hold my trousers up and tops in small or extra small were the size of choice. My bones would hurt when I sat on hard seats as I had not an ounce of excess fat as a cushion. Thanks to a combination of walking hours a day to and from work and with my dog and working in a heavy physical job (nursing on a geriatric ward), I remained emaciated.
Fact: I still forget that I’m more average in my size now and still occasionally buy clothes which whilst fine whilst standing up, will burst buttons if I ever sit down. I’m no longer dangerously thin.
2) My hair isn’t going thin on top: I have a double crown. For those who don’t know what this means, it means that I have two of the whirly bits of hair where it grows outwards on the top of the head. Naturally that’s why when I have those hideous moments where I catch sight of the back of my head on a CCTV camera or in a changing room, it looks like my hair is getting very thin at the back. Baldness runs in families. All the males in my line had great heads of hair. It can’t be that I’m losing my hair
Fact: I’m losing my hair.
3) I’m not very tall: This stems from teenage insecurity and inferiority. On an intellectual level I knew I wasn’t short. In terms of logistics I could see that I towered over a lot of people. It’s just that in my own mind I felt small and vulnerable. My inner voice told me that I was petite and weak. It’s not so bad now that I’m older and more confident but I still get moments where I feel tiny and frail.
Fact: I’m six feet tall.
4) I can be anything I want to be: I’m over 40, have spent 25 years smoking too much and am also pretty slow to pick up physical tasks. I can understand concepts and theories easily but give me a simple physical thing to do and I’m very puzzled. A recent example is trying to tie a bowtie. To me, it’s like the hardest riddle invented. Whilst it may be true that I could re-train for a new career at any age; certain careers (Olympic athlete, world class ballet dancer or Formula One driver) are beyond me. I often see contemporary dance pieces and leave thinking that with a week or two of training I could do that too. I see myself flying around gracefully, in singlet and shorts, wowing audiences worldwide. I then remember that they are probably twenty years my junior and started training soon after vacating the womb
Fact: I’m not 16 still. Some of my potential (if it ever existed) is gone.
5) I’m still 21: I look at learned media experts, experienced senior doctors at work and government officials and automatically feel younger than them. I’m not. Lots of older people say that they still feel like a teenager inside. I’m not sure that this is true of me as I’ve felt 85 inside since I was about 12. I do however equate authority with age and it comes with a jolt when I realise that I’m older than lots of politicians, police inspectors and hospital consultants.
Fact: I’m officially middle aged.
I’m not sure I’ll ever have a true grip on reality. I think our inner selves will always struggle to keep up with physical reality. For now I’ll go with it: signing off here as a very petite, teenage future ballet star with an amazing head of hair.