Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research. – Carl G. Jung
In my late 30’s I remember having a sense of dread about turning 40. I’m now soon to be 49 and now I’m in the last year of the 40 something, I find myself ruminating about the past 10 years, and reflecting on the next 10.
What I have learnt is that there was nothing to be afraid of! All that worry about loosing my youth and becoming “old” just didn’t happen. Yes, I’ve gone up a dress size or two, and have deeper laugh lines and no longer have the same energy I once had. But I have also settled down into myself, meaning I no longer worry about the small stuff and have left all my demons behind me. And although I’m no longer young, I’m definitely not old.
What has become important is time! I can’t quite believe how quickly the past 10 years have gone and realise the next 10 will probably go even quicker. So, I have a sense of urgency to achieve those unrealised goals and know that I must try and fill each year with great experiences and create wonderful memories with my family and friends.
To sum up what I’ve learnt in my 40’s – life really did start!
40’s are the Best Years
- I’ve clambered up the greasy career pole, been through the terrors of new parenthood and turned my back on really bad outfits and haircuts.
- Gigs – once my night out of choice – must now be seated and within an hour’s travel of my home. Queuing to get in anywhere is out of the question, and music in bars must be low enough to allow conversation. Table service is preferable; clear access to bar and clean loo, a non-negotiable.
- I don’t need to have opinions on new music, movies or pop culture in general, pretending to like The Magic Gang or Stereo Honey isn’t going to impress peers who stopped listening to new music in 1997.
- I cry often – at game show wins, song lyrics, old couples holding hands, dogs with jobs, anything involving war veterans, David Attenborough documentaries (especially those featuring polar bears) and yes, even the John Lewis Christmas advert. Conversely, things make me honk with laughter, much louder and longer than before.
- Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.” And an afternoon nap, just bliss.
- People think I’m a grown-up, you’re still 16 in your own head, but people take you seriously.
- Having spent my teens, twenties and thirties feeling entirely certain of my every opinion, I’m no longer such a know it all and am far more likely to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t think it’s that simple”. I walk away from arguments not because I’m vastly more tolerant and nice, but because I can simply no longer be arsed. The more I know, the less sure I am of anything other than that life is irredeemably messy and most people are well meaning and essentially good.
- I have missed out on some near soul mates. This goes for friendships, too. There have been unforgettable people with whom I have shared an excellent evening or a few days. Now they live in Sydney, and I will never see them again. That’s just how life is. It’s awesome to collect people throughout life, but you’re truly blessed if you have a handful of besties who will always, always have your back. Even if you don’t speak to them all that often, you know they’re there.
- Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it isn’t immediately apparent, but in time, and with reflection, the reason usually becomes clear. And often it’s so extraordinary and breath-taking, it’s blown me away. I’ve stopped worrying about what everyone else thinks. Stopped wasting energy on stuff that isn’t any of my business. I just do me.
- Experiences are infinitely more memorable than stuff.
- I know that I should take a risk and have the guts to seize the opportunity, because it may not present itself again.
- Confidence is beautiful and powerful, and laugh lines are worth it.