At the weekend, I attended an old school friend’s fortieth birthday party. She lives near me and so I often bump into her. An acquaintance now I suppose, but we have a shared history and I was glad she thought of me.   Plus, it’s my 40th later this week and so I celebrated it by proxy – all the fun, none of the spotlight.

I decided, in a feigned show of confidence, to go on my own. My first mistake. When I arrived at the club, I then spent the next twenty minutes in the car, too nervous to go in.

She wasn’t the reason I was nervous. It was because I knew a lot of people that were going were old school friends I hadn’t seen in 25 years.

There had been a school reunion ten years ago but I didn’t go. I was too scared and too embarrassed.

I’m a grown woman! Ridiculous right?

You see, I wasn’t in a good place when I was 30. I was coming to the end of a tiring divorce, pretending to be happy and confident when I was anything but. Stuck in a cycle of what being a single mother entailed for me back then, and I had visions of everyone else living a Utopian lifestyle. They would all be married. All have children. Live in big houses. Have fabulous jobs. And cleaners. And people to iron their clothes. And lots and lots of money. And all be irritatingly happy.

And there was me. Skint. Tired. Single. Jogging the pushchair to the child minder at 6.30am every morning so I could make the 7.30am train to London. Getting home at 7pm, just in time to put my son to bed. Dinner by 10pm. Bed by 10.30pm. That was my life. What was interesting about that? I thought they would all laugh at me. Or worse, feel sorry for me.

So I faked a migraine and said I couldn’t go.

As I sat in my car on Friday night, all the old feelings from ten years ago came rushing back. Just for a minute. And then I do what I often do when no-one else is about. I gave myself a metaphorical slap round the face. I needed it!

There was no reason I should have felt embarrassed about my situation back then and especially no reason why I should be sat in my car now, debating about whether to go in or fake another illness.

Because there’s one thing I do know about the me back then and the me now – and that’s that I always try my hardest to make the best of the situation I’m in. Back then, it was working full time in London so that I could keep a roof over my son’s head. Now, it’s trying to forge a new writing career at the age of 393/4.

That if you fall off the Bucking Bronco, you get right back on.

The only person judging me, was me.

I took a deep breath, applied some more lip gloss, which always helps every situation, and walked in.

Once I had recovered from the sight of the hostess on a Bucking Bronco (I was a little taken aback too), I bought a drink and looked to see if any old school friends were already there.

Needless to say, I had a great time catching up with old friends. It’s funny how even though I haven’t seen some of these people for 25 years, I felt immediately comfortable. Like I had just seen them at school the day before.

The day after the party, one friend very kindly emailed me to say how much he was enjoying my blog and that after I had left a mutual friend told him that I was an inspiration to her.

To be honest, I’m still in shock.

I’m glad I went. I faced a few demons that night, but thankfully, the people were just like me. Normal. People just trying hard, every day, to make the best of life.

I got inspired right back.

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.