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Claire Kenny
Features Writer
@my40pluslife
4:00 AM 29th January 2022
lifestyle

When It Feels Like Something's Missing, Follow The Breadcrumbs

When it feels like something's missing, follow the breadcrumbs.
Finding joy and purpose when you're not sure what even makes you happy anymore can be a very tricky experience. But 40 plus blogger Claire Kenny reckons it’s worth the work.


What makes you happy?

Claire Kenny
Claire Kenny
This might seem like a bit of a daft question - after all, surely it's something we should know intuitively? But it can feel like a very vague notion if you can't remember the last time you really invested in yourself.

Once I’d got back on my feet after my marriage ended, I initially thrived. But I eventually started to experience a nagging feeling that something was missing. I assumed that it was 'relationship-shaped' and embarked on a fruitless search for a partner through the joyless world of dating apps. But because I was looking for someone to 'rescue me' and do the work of building a life I loved for me, I attracted and chased the wrong people.

After hitting a bit of a slump in my early forties, I had a turning point: I realised that my life was my responsibility to fix - no one else's. I didn't have to 'wait my turn' - I could just get cracking and create my own happiness. But I didn't know where to start!
It felt like doing a massive treasure hunt with the shittest map ever.

I think when we start again after long marriages, we underestimate just how much of our identities are tied up in being wives or husbands. I first met my ex-husband aged 24 and now 40, I had so much to learn about myself that I didn't even know what made me happy and excited as a person in my own right. I felt lost for a long time. I went to events and joined clubs to search for a sense of purpose and belonging but didn’t find either. It was so frustrating; finally I had the time and the energy to focus on myself and I couldn't figure out what to do with it! I didn't get the clarity I'd been searching for until I'd had a few false starts and quite a few nights and weekends of feeling lonely and empty.
Eventually I had an idea to start up a writing venture. It was originally going to be called The Ghostwriter because it was based on teaching other people how to write their stories, or writing them on their behalf. What I really wanted to do was share my own story, but I just wasn't brave enough so this was a good alternative.

Frustratingly, the way forward only revealed itself a bit at a time, but I knew I'd taken a major step forward: I'd developed the ability to identify when I was on the right track. Going with that feeling meant I got much clearer on what brought me joy and purpose, and from that point, a lot of things clicked into place. I decided to face my fears and publish my very first blog and My 40 Plus Life has brought me so much of the fulfilment and purpose I was looking for.

In spiritual parlance they call this stuff 'following your breadcrumbs'. It's that feeling you get when you're onto something that lights you up; something you want more of. It might be writing, yoga, running or volunteering. Whatever it is, when you find it, do more of it, and you won’t be disappointed.

If you're feeling something is missing, you'll find it if you keep trying. It might take quite a few weekends and evenings doing things you don't feel are quite right for you. You might also have lots of weekends at home watching boxsets when you know you 'should' be out doing something (I had many of those, and still do). But if happiness, joy and purpose is something that you've promised yourself this year, learning to follow your breadcrumbs is a very wise place to start.

Claire can be found on Instagram and Facebook at @my40pluslife.me