OPINION - I regret every single decade of my life and these are the reasons why

·3-min read
 (Sarfraz Manzoor)
(Sarfraz Manzoor)

It’s my birthday today. I would love to say how old I am but each time my fingers hover over the relevant keys of my laptop I collapse into uncontrollable sobs.

They say you should aspire to live a life without regrets but I don’t think that is possible. I have amassed a mountain of regrets, some of which I will now share in the hope of being freed of them.

I spent my teenage years composing maudlin, self-pitying poems but if I could do it all again I would ditch the poetry and pick up an acoustic guitar and compose maudlin, self-pitying songs instead.

I went to study at university in Manchester, which was then arguably the hippest city in the world. The Stone Roses played a now legendary gig at Spike Island while I was at university. Did I go? I did not: I went to see Billy Joel instead.

That’s the thing about my twenties — I was old before my time. I now regret that I was so sensible. I didn’t drink or take drugs, I never went to wild parties, never really did anything that was stupidly irresponsible but insanely fun.

I was so boring, obsessed with music and politics. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to just lighten up and enjoy the freedom that youth bestows.

I should have enjoyed my thirties — my career was on its way up, time was on my side and I was in good health. Did I celebrate these things? I did not. I stressed about contemporaries who were doing better than me. I couldn’t enjoy being single because I feared I was doomed to be forever alone and I convinced myself that I had a succession of imaginary ailments.

I would love to tell my thirty-something self that if he thinks being single is hard, wait until marriage and kids come along. I would urge him not to compare himself to others — the race is not with them but with yourself.

I don’t remember much about my forties — which is the point. Time started speeding. I do remember getting married and having two children, the rest is a blur.

And just as I was getting my head round being 50, I find myself at 51. Phew — managed to find the keys without crying. I am at that age when mirrors are my mortal enemy.

How I think I look and how I actually look are two entirely different individuals. I may not have enjoyed them at the time but I now look on my teens, twenties, thirties and forties as glory days to which I wish I could return.

So tonight as I celebrate my birthday with a mixture of gratitude and queasiness the advice I will give myself is this: be proud of the past but live in the present.

And keep believing that for all the years in the rear view mirror, new pleasures and adventures may yet still lie ahead.

In other news...

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

This week has seen the debut of Ms Marvel, Disney Plus’ new MCU series, which stars Iman Vellani (pictured last night) as Kamala Khan, an American teenager growing up in New Jersey who happens to be both Muslim and a superhero. Khan isn’t the first superhero to come from New Jersey — that would be Bruce Springsteen — but she is the first Muslim to join the Marvel universe and judging from the reviews it appears that a star is born.

The vast majority of roles for people who looked like me were, until recently, emphatically unheroic: shopkeepers, terrorists and so on. The idea of someone from my background being cast in a mainstream superhero movie would have been unimaginable to my teenage self.

I sometimes make the mistake of believing everything was better in the past but Ms Marvel quite simply blows that theory out of the water, and I could not be happier.

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