This year, in July, I'm going to be forty-seven years old. Forty-seven. I have to admit, my mind sort of boggles at this. It's not because I'm worried about getting older -- I honestly don't give a flying Wallenda about that -- as much as it is that the number seems much older than it feels. I mean, forty-seven isn't "mid-forties," anymore. It's officially "late forties." It's damned near "knocking-on-fifty." And if memory serves, in the mind of my formerly-12-year-old self, those words used to mean "ancient."
That said, I was recently conversing with my friend Susannah, who turns 41 today. She was lamenting the fact that rarely does she ever read anything positive about being in your forties, especially for women. "The media keeps telling me I'm fast approaching my sell-by date," she groused. "Frankly, I just don't buy it."
Well, thank God for that. Because traditional media and my 12-year-old brain aside, experience has proven that 40's are amazing. Don't believe the hype, folks.
And so, in honour of Susannah's birthday; also, to simply put some media out there that establishes not only is there nothing wrong with being in your 40s, but rather it's actually a freaking blessing, here are:
top 10 reasons why your 40s totally rock
1. You're old enough to be taken seriously. Remember back in your 20s when you tried to make a point, and folks would just nod and smile, barely hiding their thoughts about how "cute" and "adorable" you were? That condescension is a thing of the past now, honey: you open your mouth, and people listen. In your 40s, you know a thing or two, by God, and people are willing to hear what you have to say.
2. You realize the "appropriate attire" rules may no longer apply to you. Just this week, I was laughing with someone about when I used to closely adhere to the Rules of Office Dress: in particular, the advice of one article I read in my 20s which had something to do with "wearing no more than 8 shiny things -- buttons included -- to work." ("Because they clashed with the giant shoulder pads?" asked my friend. She might quite possibly have been right.) When you're in your 40s, you don't have to worry about things like "appropriate heel height for the office" or "whether it's okay to wear white to a wedding if you're not the bride" -- you know what you feel comfortable in, and you wear whatever the hell that is. It's incredibly freeing.
3. You don't feel obligated to please everyone. It's not that you don't want to please anyone -- of course there are people in your life for whom it brings you great joy to please -- and certainly, you're mindful of manners and common courtesy. But you're not constantly on show, trying to make sure that you win the approval of everyone you come across. No, in your 40s, you've finally gotten comfortable in your own skin -- when you couple this confidence with a healthy dose of kindness, you realize you've finally become someone you really like. And anyone who doesn't approve of you can just move right on along.
4. Related: you know the number of people whose opinions about you matter -- and you know that it is a surprisingly small number, indeed.
5. Also related: you know how to say no. Gone are the days of saying yes because you're afraid of hurting someone's feelings, or you're afraid of their disapproval. In your 40s, you've figured out that the word "no" isn't inherently an insult; furthermore, saying "yes" when you don't mean it potentially is.
6. While you might have to lower your expectations, you've figured out that you never have to lower your standards. This is particularly true of relationships: back in the day, you used to have unrealistically high expectations of your friends and/or family; but now, in your 40s, you've figured out that eventually you have to cut people some slack. That said, you've also figured out this doesn't mean that you have to be treated poorly -- and you therefore you know when to decisively say "when" to disrespect or abuse of any kind.
7. You know when to watch your back and when to have someone else's back. And you know how to do both (sometimes at the same time!) without compromising your own integrity.
8. You know how to have an amazing time. By the time you're in your 40s, you know exactly what counts as an amazing time -- whether you're a person who sincerely loves being in a crowd, or would really rather spend time in solitude or with a few friends or family -- and you know how to do it without apologizing. You know what kinds of activities feed your soul, and which ones sap your spirit, and you act accordingly.
9. You can try anything you want, because you're still young enough to do it, and you're old enough to do it wisely. Want to take up skydiving? Go for it. Want to get your pilot's license/go back to college/learn a new skill? Knock yourself out. Want to, oh, I dunno, leave your law practice to do something that feeds you more creatively (ahem)? Get it, girl. Your 40s are an amazing time to try anything, because you have some life experience under your belt that will help guide you through.
10. Laugh lines. Because there is no better evidence of having lived a joyful life, and in your 40s you've figured out that nothing is more beautiful, more attractive, more sexy, than joy.