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As I Approach 60, These Are the Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

What would I tell my younger self across the decades? I have been reflecting on The Duchess of Cambridge reaching the big 4-0. And as I reflect on my life as a I near 60, this is what I'd tell myself.

I have been reflecting on our Kate (Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge to you and me) reaching the big 4-0. There were many articles around what she might have told her younger self (guessing even she might not have dared to dream that she would grow up to be the Queen of England).

(Side note: “Kategate” is really not helping me keep my feet on the ground as I attempt to ‘manifest’ a Damehood by the time I’m 60. Although I’m hoping – whoops manifesting – that the great detail I provide the universe will help. Should the universe deem it too extra of me to want There is Nothing Like a Dame blaring out as I negotiate the cheese aisle in Sainsbury’s during the weekly shop, then I’m happy to compromise… on this occasion).

So, what would older Sue tell her younger self across the decades?

I suspect it would go something like this:

1. No number of Dyson hair attachments will get you the hair you desire.

Did you learn nothing from your experience with the Lady Braun Hairstyling Set – Christmas 1976 – which did not remotely help you look like any of Charlie’s Angels?

2. When you first see Mamma Mia! (the musical) in 1999, enjoy it, be satisfied, walk away, don’t look back and, more importantly, don’t go back.

It’s quality not quantity… it will eat into your psyche and become an addiction that you are unable to control. This to the point that even you can’t remember how many times you’ve seen it (over 40, thank you for asking!). Your addiction could have funded several Caribbean cruises and a beach apartment in Fuengirola for what you’ve spent on tickets, interval wine and programmes.

3. You will spend many years between the ages of 30 and 40 praying for two lines to appear...

on a lateral flow test and, since 2020, it’s looking to be as many praying that two lines don’t!

4. You, yes, I’m talking to you, young Sue...

(the one who thought the school’s cross country should have been renamed a ‘country stroll’… complete with hacking jacket and plus fours, rather than the dreary grey and green PE kit), you will become a disciplined gym bunny as you hit 50. Further, you will become super grumpy if you can’t knock out a 5K on the treadmill at least four times a week. I can’t lie, I seldom achieve sub 29 minutes and look unrecognisable with exhaustion by the end of it… no pain, no gain, right?

5. It’s good to have a plan B and/or contingency, but don’t let this rule your life.

Some life events are contingency proof and you will eventually lose your parents, having fretted about this since you were a teenager. When this happens, you will be well into your 50s and they will both be months away from their 90th birthdays, having lived fulfilled lives. You will spend too much of your time worrying about things that seldom happen. When they do happen – if you say so yourself older Sue – you are awesome at coping and navigating your way through. You may not be great when anticipating and the post-event trauma is a tough gig. But know that when you are in the eye of the storm, you are a trouper and astound all those who know and love you – including both versions of ourselves.

6. If asked for three words to describe younger Sue, you would yearn for: thin, enigmatic and successful.

And would not believe the delight you will get from your 10-year-old stepson saying you are “funny, kind and… clean”!

7. Don’t underestimate the power of having a professional do your make-up – it’s a game changer.

Even if most of your ‘face’ ends up on the bathroom floor at the end of the evening.

8. Your once-fabulous memory will diminish.

Not in a worrying way, but you will simply begin to have more years to remember. That said, you will always be able to have immediate recall of the three digits on the back of your credit card when online shopping. Whilst we’re tackling an M-word, make sure you wear every season’s ‘must-have’ – a chunky statement knit – between the ages of 20 to 40 because, trust me, you won’t be going anywhere near one for the next decade.

9. I am thrilled to tell you that you are the healthiest hypochondriac I know. FACT.

For somebody who has faced near death, debilitating illness and many a tropical disease (to be clear, in your head) on multiple occasions, you will leave a 37-year career without having one day off sick – so stop Googling and jog on.

10. When you get divorced in 1995, do not, I repeat, do not bother changing your name back to your maiden name.

Nobody was remotely bothered (including you, really!) and it was terribly confusing for us all. A special mention for those poor folks who thought you’d got married so kept on congratulating you. Then when you married again in 1998, you will receive commiserations as people assume you got divorced. Walk away from the drama… and all the paperwork!

…and my overarching message to you, young Sue, lighten up love, it’s all going to be super fine. You may not be the future Queen of England (and your Damehood is on shaky ground), but you are going to have a really lovely life – go enjoy yourself.

By Sue Turbutt