Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research. ~ Carl Jung Click To Tweet
I vividly remember my mother’s 37th birthday. We had many guests, and the party went on until quite late. Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves, but all I could think was,” My mother is getting old, hope she doesn’t die.” At that point, 40 seemed so very far away that I couldn’t possibly imagine a day would come when I would reach that ripe old age.
Now I’m older than she was on that day, and do I feel old? Not at all. Actually, I feel like life is just beginning! I am in fact, having the best time of my life. And, I’ve realized that this is the youngest I’ll ever be — time to enjoy my youth.
So what has changed since my childhood? Is it just my perception?
With the increase in life expectancy from 50 in the beginning of the 19th century to 80 currently, it is obvious that what we consider old has changed. At 40, we’ve barely lived even half our lives, and myriad possibilities abound ahead.
The first forty years of life give us the text: the next thirty supply the commentary. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer Click To Tweet
Having finally reached that defining moment, I can now see things from the other side of the hill, and they don’t look anywhere near as bleak as I had imagined. Sure, there’ve been a few changes in my body — most things travelling south, of course. And my skin is not as taut as it once was, along with a slight thickening around the equatorial region. These things notwithstanding, I am a big fan of being in my 40’s.
And just in case you’ve bought into the (terribly widespread) idea that your 40’s are the beginning of the end, here are 7 reasons to believe otherwise!
1) You Are Comfortable In Your Own Skin.
You’ve now lived with yourself for 40 years, and have finally become quite familiar with yourself, inside and out. Yes, gravity may be beckoning various parts of your body, and you’ve got a new vocabulary including words such as ‘flabby’, ‘thick’, ‘plus-size’, ‘wrinkles’ and ‘grey hair’, but there’s also a new-found confidence and comfort level with both your body and your persona. Sure, when you think back on your teens you remember your youthful skin and slim body, but you also remember the acne and braces, the gawkiness and goose bumps — and all of the terrible insecurities that came with them. Well, they’re gone now. You know the person you are well – likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and you actually like who you are. It is the start of a great and long-lasting friendship.
2) You Are More Confident Than You’ve Ever Been.
You are now (hopefully) settled in in life and have few, if any, of the insecurities that the teenage years, twenties and thirties burdened you with. Most probably, you have found your calling, and have settled into a profession of your choice. You might have found a life partner, or maybe even a couple of them. 😉 There is no question of wondering what the future will be like – this is the future, and it is definitely great. Yes, youth is great too, but you cannot freeze it. Time marches on. If you continue to cling on to the notion of youth, you will be doing a great disservice to yourself and what you are at present. Let go of the past and move on.
3) You’re not 40. You’re 18 with 22 years’ experience.
The wide range of experiences you’ve had by this point have given you a much wiser perspective that no manner of learning can compare to. As all of us realize by a certain age, it’s experience that is the real teacher. Education, relationships, travel, internships, jobs or entrepreneurship – you’ve most likely done many of them, if not all.
You’ve moved out of your secure comfort zone of family and close friends and have cut your way through through jungle of the big bad world. You won some, you lost some, you faltered and then found your feet again, you tried out new things, and you’ve seen new places, eaten grown up stuff – all this has made you the deep and rich person you are today. Each experience has played a role in shaping your unique personality and, trust me, this kind of outlook would not have been possible in your twenties or thirties because you were still in the building stage — still experimenting and venturing.
4) You Possess Actual Maturity, Not the Facscimilie Projected in Youth.
Women are most fascinating between 35 and 40, after they've won a few races and know how to pace themselves. ~ C.Dior Click To Tweet
Each one of us matures at a different pace and age and the final enlightenment hits us at different times. Do you remember feeling envious of your friend who seemed to have it all together, who was confident and elegant? In comparison, you felt like a gawky misfit who wished to curl up and be invisible in public. Well, look at your friend now and think back at how she was all those light years back and you’ll know what I’m talking about. In your forties, you have a better understanding of the world around you. No matter how great you thought you were as a kid or teenager, believe me, you’re better now.
5) You Can See Things More Clearly, Navigating Your Path With More Precision.
We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it. ~ Jules Renard Click To Tweet
This maturity brings with it a great sense of heightened awareness. You know the value of what you have. You don’t hanker after greener pastures on farther hills. You are now in possession of clarity of thought and able to see things in a light much closer to reality, as opposed to the heavily filtered projections of your younger years. Most of the things that took center stage back then – usually superficial – made everything else seem insignificant. But after you cross over the ‘hill’, you realize that you are far less impatient and insecure than you once were, and understand much more about what’s truly important and what’s not.
Does this mean that all your dreams are dead and you have reached a pinnacle from which the journey is just downhill? No way! When you reach as far as you can see, you realize you can see even further, and you’ve got the wisdom to get you there sooner.
6) You Don’t Care What Anyone Thinks Anymore.
At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don't care what they think of us. ~ Ann Landers Click To Tweet
I really don’t know why, but on my 40th birthday, I felt very liberated. I was now at a respectable age and no longer young. I was what I was. There was no need to prove myself to anybody or defer to anyone’s opinions, just because they were older. At 40, you are your own person – financially settled and not dependent on anyone and definitely (hopefully!) not still under your parents’ thumbs. You make your own decisions – good or bad, and are responsible for your actions. You are more practical and it seems that the world is now more in your hands than ever.
And why is this? Because you’ve created a self that is very unconcerned with what’s going on in other peoples minds anymore. What people say and do matters, of course, but not what they’re thinking. You know through experience that intentions inevitably rise to the surface through actions, and it’s thus you’ve learned to watch behaviours — in yourself as well as others — as opposed to trying to determine thoughts, or even granting words too much credence.
7) You’re At The Apex of Your Life — Your Mind & Body Are Balanced.
Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed. ~ Charles M. Schultz Click To Tweet
With age comes a ripening of all faculties. You are now fully mentally and emotionally mature and are at your best. And if you’ve taken even relative care of your body over the years, you should be feeling decent physically as well. You’re not too old and not too young, but just at the threshold of an exciting and wonderful phase of your life. The way you respond to people and events in your life now are balanced and mature. Gone is the knee jerk reaction of youth. You are able to weigh the pros and cons before taking decisions. Simply put, you know how to take care of business.
As they say, 40 is the new 20. The adventure is just beginning. Have a great ride.