I REINVENT MY LIFE EVERY DECADE
Rebecca tries out different careers like some of us try on hats.
My first fashion job at 14 was a Saturday girl in a little boutique in Kensing-ton Church Street. I was a little girl from the suburbs and had devoured fashion since I was tiny; growing up in a household with a mother and old-er sisters who were all really into clothes, it was a way for me to speak their language.
I have always felt at home in fashion even though I was rejected by Saint Martins Art College when I applied for a fashion degree aged 17 – the hurt is still there 38 years later! Instead of designing, I pursued a career in fashion retail and it stood me in good stead later on when I did finally launch my own label.
Between my late 20s and early 40s, I focussed on being a mother with various freelance work squeezed in – window dressing, interior design, mural painting, selling vintage frocks in street markets and attempting to grow a fashion label… anything to fit in with two daughters and the need to earn money.
I had a total change of career when I retrained as a counsellor; this coin-cided with my marriage falling apart and for a while I was juggling being a stylist, teaching Zumba and seeing counselling clients.
“Like many of us at this age, the changes were often imposed from the outside. “
Life changed for me dramatically after the age of 45: divorce, daughters going to Uni, more time to be ME just for the hell of it. Like many of us at this age, the changes were often imposed from the outside. I had to make endless revisions to my life plan.
I hadn’t expected to get married again, but I fell in love and my life became much calmer. I felt a sense of security and with that a chance to go back and do yet another post-graduate degree. This time it was Applied Positive Psychology combined with fashion. To me it felt logical. Clothes were how I expressed myself and helped me form a positive identity and I suspect-ed I wasn’t alone. Researching what I termed Flourishing Fashion was an opportunity to test out my theory.
I was lucky to get my dissertation published and wrote about my work in academic journals, talking to fashion theorists and psychologists alike. I felt as if I had found my niche. I developed Wearing Wellbeing to share the theory in a more applicable way; we all wear clothes, why not do it in such a way that is good for us and good for the planet? My research links per-sonal happiness and sustainable fashion.
“I blamed myself: I wasn’t good enough, my research was flawed, my message not interesting enough “
But I had a proper down-to-earth-with-a-bump year in 2017 when I was re-jected for PhD funding more than once, kept getting knocked back from publishers when I pitched my book idea and was unable to secure any paid work. I blamed myself: I wasn’t good enough, my research was flawed, my message not interesting enough, my ideas not of any use to anyone. I hadn’t even heard of ageism and I’m still not convinced that played a part in the rejection process.
And then I launched a magazine. As ever GOLDIE kind of just happened. It was over a glass of wine and a throwaway chat that the idea was incu-bated. Like other projects, one minute it was a “What if..?” and the next you are editing Issue 5, wondering where the last 18 months have gone.
GOLDIE is a glossy celebrating life after 40 and I love sharing others’ sto-ries. I am enjoying joining the dots to make age a hot topic. It is about age but not only for OLD people; it is about an attitude to life that is fundamen-tally positive and views age as aspirational; its intention is to inspire with-out preaching.
“It is about an attitude to life that is fundamentally positive and views age as aspirational.”
And we’re for men too. We want this conversation to include everyone. One of my favourite lines is ‘Diversity is getting invited to the party. Inclu-sivity is being asked to dance.’ I want this ageing conversation to reflect multiple viewpoints. Even down to the fashion we show.
This causes problems in the magazine market; it would be easier if we could be categorised in the same way as other publications on the shelf. My life isn’t that simple. I change my mind, I mess up, I experience joy: some days I only want to wear black, other times I’m full on colour clash. The ethos of GOLDIE is that when we share difference we become curi-ous. What if I tried that…? What would happen if …? Polarised positions don’t do it for me. We are aware that we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but honestly wouldn’t want to be.
I have always freelanced or had my own business so I’m used to putting ideas into action; I’m not daunted by start-up life. But editing GOLDIE is hard work and can be very lonely. And it eats money. That aside I am very lucky that I have been able to make this choice and it has introduced me to amazing people.
“I have always been lucky to have people in my life just a few years ahead who have shown me what is possible when you choose to be your best self.”
I feel that the urge to reinvent oneself at midlife is even more important to consider now that we are more likely to live well to 100. I have always been lucky to have people in my life just a few years ahead of me who have shown me what is possible when you choose to be your best self.
At almost 55 I am excited by what comes next. I have plans for another career after this one. I love being a publisher and an editor but there are so many other things I want to do. I quite fancy trying stand-up comedy, will one day focus on creating art and may well decide to finally learn how to use a camera properly.
I can’t imagine not reinventing my life every decade or so as that is how I have always been. The way I see it is if I can do it anyone can. And if GOLDIE magazine inspires anyone to believe they are never too old and it’s never too late, then that is the best reason for me to get another issue out.
For more information on GOLDIE click here.