Why did I write How To Be A Boss At Ageing?
Anniki Sommerville, co-founder of the popular podcast The Hotbed, talks about why she wrote How To Be A Boss At Ageing and embracing midlife.
Well, first and foremost, I wrote this book for myself. Aged forty- seven, I looked around and realised I was classed as ‘middle-aged’ and wasn’t sure what the future looked like. Was I supposed to just embrace it and prance about on the beach like a lady in an incontinence pad advert? What if I was feeling ambivalent and anxious instead? What would growing older look like in a society that fetishises youth? Was it okay to get tweakments or did it mean you were no longer a feminist? What kind of job could I hope to get and still feel like my skills were relevant? What about my relationship? Was it normal for it to become a mixture of box sets and the odd M&S ‘Dine in for Two’? Then I lost my dad at the beginning of lockdown. He died suddenly and it made me question the big picture: if life could finish to quickly, then what would the next chapter of my own life look like? Could I start to differentiate between the stuff that mattered and the stuff that didn’t? I started a podcast, and each week interviewed a different expert, covering off themes such as infertility, friendship, motherhood, sex, work, peri-menopause and menopause, anxiety and money.
I started getting messages on my Instagram from women telling me that they were also experiencing problems in their forties – they were feeling invisible, suffering from anxiety, going through the peri-menopause and menopause and were desperate to get their hands on information. So, I did a survey of over 300 women and discovered that many of these feelings were universal. I organised the various topics by chapter and wrote down all my findings, including quotes from the survey, my own personal perspective, and tips and advice from experts in the various fields (as well as people who had experienced something similar). I wanted the book to be informative with tangible tips and advice but also some light relief. I’ve included lots of fun lists, with a view to dipping in and out of the book whenever you’re in need of a mental boost.
I get asked about ageing a lot. It has turned into my specialist subject. The truth is, I’m not an expert but have spoken to lots of people who are. I have realised that a lot of it is about our mindset and preparing ourselves properly. I’ve spoken to many women who are struggling and looking for some quick and easy ways to improve their lives and see the light at the end of the tunnel. The truth is, the peri-menopause and menopause are no walk in the park; the sense that we are losing our visual currency is also a biggie when we’ve been brought up to believe that the way we look is a key measure of how successful we are as women. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! And there is fun to be had. It’s not all bad news. Honestly!
Okay, physically we are undergoing radical changes, and then we have these fundamental mental shifts to contend with, like anxiety. This is without taking into account all the outside pressures that we’ve felt in the last eighteen months (a pandemic, lockdown, political upheaval, climate change) The thing is, there are plenty of positives to ageing, too: a sense of caring less about what others think, being more aware of our own mortality, which may sound depressing but is important because it helps us prioritise and re-focus on what’s important, and being more aware of what we want; there’s also a sense of freedom – of being able to finally shape the next chapter of our lives.
I hope you loved the book and I’d love for you to listen to the podcast and join the Facebook support group. We share our experiences and also silly giphys that make us feel better. Ultimately, ‘How to Be a Boss at Ageing’ is not just a book – it’s a movement, and a community with courses and events – all with a view to helping women navigate their forties and fifties and not feel so knackered and hopeless.
I love hearing from my readers – you can get in touch on Instagram, through my Facebook page, Goodreads, or my website. Thanks, and remember… keep on truckin’, don’t let the ageing police get you down.
Ask yourself… What do you want your life to look like and what steps are you going to take today to get yourself there?