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40? I’m loving it!

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

40? I’m loving it!

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Call her a ‘free spirit’, a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum, and 40-year-old Angelique Brathwaite will happily claim every description as long as it doesn’t infringe on her personal freedom or sense of self.
That willingness to do and be whatever she wants has been the key to  Angelique’s happiness over the years. Perhaps that’s why she willingly embraced the Big 4-0, without any of the angst that many women often go through when reaching such a key birthday.
“To me 40 is a milestone and I’m so glad I reached it and I’m expecting amazing things from my 40s,”  Angelique said beaming.
The marine biologist who claims to feel at home in the water was very much in her element when she spoke to EASY Magazine. Though her easy-going nature has helped her sail through the earlier years, she is counting on that to take her through this next decade.
“I think my big changes came in my 30s. I always knew who I was.  I always knew that I wanted to be a marine biologist but in terms of the rest of my life, I didn’t have a plan charted,” she admits. “Life has been easy, life has been great and I just expect it to flow like that.
“I love to travel and luckily I work for Government so I get to travel a lot which is great, and I’m a diver so I’ll always take time off to go and dive which is also terrific.”
That strong sense of self was instrumental in helping  Angelique pursue her career path in marine biology, when many people were trying to get her parents to talk her out of it.
One thing getting older has given  Angelique is a greater appreciation of her parents, their value system, the upbringing they gave her, and their unwavering support for whatever she did.
“I have amazing parents. They made sure that I had a great education,” says the Harrison College alumnus. “I don’t remember them sitting down and telling me you have to do this or that but they led by example. My parents weren’t rich – they were both fairly poor – but I came up having no notion of what poverty is because they did what they had to do and provided for us.
“It was never any stress [to do well]. You did your work and you did well, but even if I didn’t get into Harrison College it wasn’t going to be this thing that parents do now, where you’re going to suffer or be nothing. I know that no matter what I did my parents were going to love and support me.”
Perhaps with that freedom to choose which path she wanted,  Angelique never feared opting for the road less travelled by others.
“In my 30s I took off and ran an expedition in Mexico in the jungle and that was another kind of life-changing moment for me,” she  says. “It was very basic – no running water, no flushing toilets – and you had to manage a group of 24 volunteers. We taught the volunteers how to dive and how to monitor the coral reefs, and we taught English to the Mayans who lived in the jungles with us so it was an amazing experience being there.”
After returning to Barbados,  Angelique got back into the business of living.
“I still felt like a kid but I started feeling those adult prods. I started building a house and having to deal with banks and lawyers and contractors for the first time in my life. It was also the first time in my life that my skill and ability was not enough,” she says of the experience.
“Not to be boastful, but everything that I have done has worked. It might not have worked well but it has worked. I have never felt defeated in anything or so unsure that I’ve had to ask anyone about anything until this house. Now, I’m builidng it by myself and I got rid of the contractors. I guess that was a defining moment for me and I started feeling more like an adult.”
Angelique admits she was one to refute the societal trappings of feeling like you had to get the marriage and children by a certain age.
“At school everyone wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant and I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she said. “I knew I just wanted to be happy, I didn’t need to be rich, I just knew I wanted to be happy.
“I knew I wanted to have my own home but it took me years to find the perfect spot. I never had to do something by a specific time. I never felt I needed to get married and settle down and live happily ever after.”
But  Angelique is living a pretty good life and she is happy with her choices and with herself.
“I feel now in my 40s life is going to be plain sailing because I’m never building another house,” she added laughing.