I'M COUNTING BY CHANGES: GUEST POST

He's back, heifers! Our resident guest blogger Brett is back with another winner.  Have a read, leave him some love.

 

I'M COUNTING BY CHANGES

‘Age is but a number, you’re as old as.....’  You get the picture.

As my birthday approaches, perhaps inevitably (on a recent run), my thoughts turn to my age. I’ll be turning 47 soon, perhaps by the time you read this my birthday will have passed and I’m hoping this year it’ll be different.

In recent years, far from feeling a day of celebration I’ve found myself seeking a level of solitude. Thankfully I’ve rarely worked my birthday and due to the joys of education for the last five years it’s fallen on one of the many holidays I now enjoy. A long run, a seat by my favourite lake with a big dollop of cake isn’t a bad way to spend the time, however it has always been tinged with a sense of.....restlessness. Not the kind that makes you want to get up, find the nearest jet and fly off but the kind you get when you know you’ve forgotten something important. The kind that eats away at the back of your head and leaves you with a very odd feeling indeed.

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By their own admissions, in the past, those closest to me have found it hard to celebrate the day with me too. Presents have either been excluded or embarrassingly given with a shrug of ‘I didn’t know what to get.'

Although the Alien Quadrilogy was an absolute triumph. With the benefit of hindsight I can now leap to their defense. How could they have possibly have known what to get me when in all fairness they didn’t really know me. How did they stand a chance when I didn’t even know me.

Aside from the day itself and perhaps more importantly I’ve always struggled to ‘feel’ my age... until now, I’ve never been able to fathom why.

As a child I felt ill at ease with those my own age, never seeming to fit in to any friendship group and certainly never feeling as comfortable as they appeared. Yes, I had friends but I always knew something was missing. As an adult in social situations I have always struggled to relate to those around me as I’ve never really considered myself to be ‘their’ age.

Here I turn to Festinger and his theory of symbolic interaction. He states that we naturally gravitate towards those we feel similar to, especially in social situations.

I share the same interests as you, I have the same physique as you, I’m as attractive as you, I’m as intelligent as you, I’m the same age as you, I’m as awkward as you.... for me, the last one always rang true and certainly at parties I know I have sought out the awkward individual standing on the edge of the crowd. However ‘I’m the same age as you’ always left me feeling utterly lost and confused.

As my run continued I reflected on these parties, especially the latest, where for the first time, I felt at ease. I turn the corner and the first of the hill repeats start. It’s not a short hill and it is a steep and I’m determined to complete at least three reps. I decided to push it to four and my legs are now seriously complaining and I’m trying to focus on the music in my ears when it all becomes clear, thanks in no small part to Ben Howard.

....Oh feelin' blind, I realize
All I was searchin' for, was me
Oh oh-oh, all I was searchin' for was me

Oh yeah, keep your head up, keep your heart strong
No, no, no, no, keep your mind set.....

I’ve heard it said that you reach a certain age and stay that way, emotionally at least. Many of my friends say ‘I still feel 30.’ This makes sense if you take emotional development into account (Maslow, Harris et al). But what if that emotional development didn’t happen; became fragmented.

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What if the inner child didn’t get the answers they need to achieve a level of reconciliation let alone self-actualisation?  I’m not narcissistic but when I’ve looked in the mirror I’ve often found it difficult to recognise the person staring back. They weren’t me.

By the time I had reached the top of the hill I realised, due to all the recent changes and realisations, I had finally found me. My inner child was happy and there was unification.

‘Age is but a number, you’re as old as.....’ In my humble opinion, I couldn’t disagree more.

In a few weeks I’ll be 47. Hill sprints are a great way to improve fitness but as I’ve found out it’s not just the legs and lungs than benefit. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been – mentally fitter.

According to Charles Dickens ‘We count by changes and events within us. Not by years.’

I’ve changed beyond recognition and if I look in the mirror I now actually see me looking back. A me where age is irrelevant but the events and changes are immense.

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About Brett:

Brett is a father, a teacher, a runner. He completed his first triathlon at the tender age of 17 and has gone on to run every distance from sprint mile to marathon and aims to complete his first ultra marathon in 2018 at the not so tender age of 47. 

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He is open about his battle with mental health and since hitting rock bottom 8 years ago has been on what he would describe as being a life changing journey ever since. He is a firm believer that through sharing and support anything is possible and that above all else we must strive to de-stigmatise mental health.  You can follow Brett on Twitter and cheer him along as he battles his anxiety and beats it most days.

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