“Don’t be you, be new…” sings Peter Pan, reimagined as a slick lifestyle guru in Baddies: The Musical. Together with an unbearably smug Cinderella who wants the world to be as perfect and beautiful as she is, Peter Pan is on a mission to rebrand the Big Bad Wolf, Captain Hook, Rumplestiltskin and the Ugly Sisters, because “Bad guys are out of fashion.”
My family love this musical so much that we’ve seen it twice and though it’s been more than a year since it was last shown at the Unicorn Theatre in London, we still live in hope that Wolfie, Hook, and the others will return one day.
As always around this time of year, the lifestyle pages of newspapers and magazines are filled with motivational articles about personal reinvention, lifestyle changes, advice on how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, 12 steps to a better life etc. A new year, a new you; Baddies’ Peter Pan would approve.
Meanwhile, my family keep singing our favourite songs from Baddies at home, although we’ve changed some of the lyrics because we’re on the side of the bad guys, not the narcissistic Peter Pan and two-faced Cinders who, as it turns out, aren’t the goodies they make themselves out to be.
“Don’t be new, be you” goes our refrain, which I find a particularly fitting motto for those of us who’ve stopped making New Year’s resolutions we’ll never keep, and whose cynicism prevent us from celebrating a new year as if it were a newborn baby. After all, there was nothing profoundly different about us or the world on 1 January 2018 and 1 January 2017, 2016, 2015, etc., and there’s no reason to believe that January 2019 will be all that different.
And that’s ok. For what if, instead of spending lots of money, time and effort on creating a new, improved version of ourselves, we chose to accept ourselves as we are?
Life is too short and too precious to fret about the jeans we no longer fit into, the three strands of grey hair discovered one morning when staring bleary-eyed into the bathroom mirror, the growing number of wrinkles in our face, various sagging body parts, etc.
“You still look young,” someone tells me, thinking they’re paying me a compliment. But so what if I look my age? I’m 45 years old, and I’m so much happier with myself now than I was when I was 15, 25, 35.
There’s great liberation in growing older; I no longer worry about what other people think of me, whether they like me or not, find me attractive or ugly, cool or geeky, want to be my friend or not. All that pressure starts to wane as you grow older, gradually becoming replaced with the freedom of being who you truly are. Now that’s something to celebrate.
My heart is not made of gold, and I can be a right bitch sometimes. I criticise, I judge, I’m guilty of hypocrisy and much more. But at least I have enough self-awareness to know this about myself. I’d so much rather be one of the Ugly Sisters than Cinderella.