I dreaded the big four-oh. I’d never really worried about age before, but I was uncomfortable with turning 40. My twenties were all about partying and promotions. My thirties were about having babies. But having ticked all the boxes of career, marriage, mortgage and kids, I didn’t really know what was expected of me in my forties. What lay ahead of me?
I’m 42 now, and apart from turning 41 being a bit boring compared to the fanfare and fuss made the previous year, I can honestly say I love being in my forties. Here’s why…
There’s something very freeing about no expectations from society about what you should be doing. There’s no pressure. Whilst no one should conform to societal expectations unless they want to, it’s still nice not to have the expectations. No expectations combined with caring a lot less about what people think is very liberating.
As well as being free from pressures about what I should be doing with my life, I find I have more confidence to reject pressures about what I should look like. It’s taken me years to see diet culture for the toxic moneymaking, body-shaming industry that it is. But finally in my forties I feel more comfortable in my own skin and doing what is right for my body. I wish I had understood years ago that my body is the least interesting thing about me.
Focusing on Me
Whilst the kids still need me, they are also happy to occupy themselves and play independently. Which means I have more time to myself. Although there are still interruptions for snacks and sibling squabbles! But I now have hobbies and time to read a book that doesn’t have pictures in! I even get to have a bath without sharing! I’ve discovered that I am still very much a work in progress, and I am enjoying working on the progress.
Discovering New Hobbies
When I was in my twenties gardening was a chore. Weekends were for shopping malls and eating out and drinking. Nowadays I will do as much as humanly possible to avoid visiting a shopping mall. And If I really have to go, I’m there when they open so I can get in and get out as quick as possible with a three shop visit maximum! There’s not much in life makes me feel as happy and at peace, as pottering around the garden and growing things! Twenty year old me would not believe it if you told her.
Being a voice of experience
Whilst I don’t have the wisdom of someone in their seventies, I have enough life experience behind me to give validity to some of my opinions. I’ve been through enough to know that the lows make you appreciate the highs. I’m old enough to offer advice based on experience, but not so old that my experience is outdated! I’ve learnt that friendships change and grow in different ways, and to really value those ‘pick up where we left off’ friendships as the most precious thing. I am slowly and finally learning to not sweat the small stuff.
It’s a privilege
Not everyone reaches an age where they need the help of Age UK Mobility. Getting old is a privilege. So whilst I still have a while to go before I collect my pension, I am trying hard to embrace each number added to my age, and the wrinkles that come with it. Whilst there are downsides, such as having reached the age where I say things like “I love Chinese food, but it doesn’t love me”, being in your forties is pretty awesome.
This post is in collaborations with Age UK Mobility.
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