Review of “Confessions of a forty-something f##k-up” by Alexandra Potter

With some personal comments…

A brilliant book about how life sometimes finds its own path, despite what we hoped for or planned for.

Nell, a British forty-something, who thought life was going the way she had expected it to go; soon to be married, living in sunny California, running her own business with her fiancé, probably kids in  the near future, suddenly finds herself single, broke and back in rainy London. She feels like a total failure, or as the title gives away, a f##k-up.

But despite the gloomy prospects, life can take unexpected turns. An encounter with an old widow brings along quite a lot of surprises, and new perspectives. The new friend of an old friend makes her want to grind her teeth, and online dating prove to be a challenge.

In the midst of all this, she decides to make a pod cast, just to let out some steam, to kind of “balance” the ever perfect Insta-life in her feed, without much hope of anyone actually listening.

I don’t want to reveal too much, but I think it’s not only forty-somethings who can identify with Nell. Albeit we might think that we have life figured out when we’re in our twenties, I can recall feeling like a twenty-something f##k-up. Being single, graduated from university, but not holding a job I really liked (or even remotely relevant to my studies), while my friends seemed to find relevant jobs (paying much better than mine), being in happy relationships, starting to marry and planning (and having) kids.

Then the same happened again in my thirties. Another relationship ended, I still had not much clue about what I really wanted to do professionally, as the jobs I dreamed of seemed out of reach, and my friends still seemed to have figured it out.

But then I finally landed a job a wanted, and life took an unexpected turn (I never planned ending up in France, but here I am…)

Still, even if I met someone, married and got kids, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel like a forty-something f##k-up more than once a month. Especially when scrolling through Instagram, looking to all the fabulous pictures of camping around a beautiful lake, a bon fire with a coffeepot hanging over (we’re not allowed to make bon fires in the wild here, and I miss it!), ski tracks through the forest (hardly anywhere to go cross country skiing here), or kayaking under the stars (I sold my kayak when I moved here).

I mean, we see what we want to see, we compare ourselves to different people. Meaning in my Insta-feed there are not may pictures of perfectly decorated living-rooms or ever-clean kitchens. But there’s all those other things I dream about doing, and I don’t get to do them, and I wonder how everybody else manage to do it “all the time”, and I feel totally…

But as Nell discovers, other’s perfect lives aren’t always that perfect, and that is my experience too, when we are being honest with each other. And no matter how we twist and turn things, what’s perfect for me, isn’t necessarily perfect for you. I think the key is to do what seems right for you, not looking so much to what other people are doing, but also realise that it’s totally normal to feel like a f##k-up at any stage in life. It should not even be embarrassing, as it’s human to make mistakes, and to take time to figure out what we really want with our lives. Honestly, I think very few people, if any, has never, ever felt like a total f##k-up. I raise my glass to every f##k-up out there, I’m sure I find myself in good company! Thanks to Alexandra Potter to make such a brilliant point of life’s imperfectness, the best since Bridget Jones entered the scene.

With that said, if you’re looking for a book to cheer you up, to make you laugh, to entertain you, and if you at any point in your life have felt like a total f##k-up, this is the book for you!