This year marked my 40th birthday. In the months running up to it, questions were posed in passive voice and hushed whispers. How did it feel? Was I anxious? How was I dealing with the trauma?!? I had to disappoint all of these concerned citizens. I was actually looking forward to it!
A similar thing happens when a woman turns 30. In our beauty-obsessed society, a woman over 30 is ‘past her prime’ in the eyes of the advertising industry (mostly run by… yep). The fact that she has a brain and skills and various other talents isn’t even taken into account. But I loved turning 30. In fact, I celebrated it with a horror themed birthday party and dressed up as Death!
Turning 30 meant leaving a whole host of worries behind that had occupied me as a 20-something. So turning 40 was just going to reduce the societal baggage even more! Hooray for that! And indeed, the day after my 40th, my shoulders did feel a little lighter. So I shaved my head and got ready for my summer holiday!
This leads me straight into my number one favourite thing about being 40: I care even less about what other people think of my style choices. Now, admittedly, I have never been what one would call ‘fashionable’ purely because I think it’s ridiculous to spend most of my paycheck on fabric when I could be spending it on good food, art supplies and toys for my pets. But where in my 20s and 30s I might have been less confident about taking the clippers to my head, now it is something that is always an option and secretly my favourite hairstyle! I have also Marie Kondo-ed my closet to the bare minimum of clothing options. Having fewer choices makes getting dressed so much easier! More time to write! More time to paint! Wheeee!
The second thing on the list: I have settled into a person that I actually rather like being. Self-confidence was always an issue for me as a younger woman. Often, I did the old Amy Cuddy trick of ‘faking it until I made it’ and did a few power poses before breakfast, but there was always the little voice in the back of my head questioning whether I was good enough, or smart enough to do something. That voice is still there, but I’ve learned over the years that that voice is just me, and I can ignore myself.
Number three: making time for the things I love. It took 40 years to get it just right, but I’ve finally found a balance between work, life and being creative that keeps me busy but doesn’t wear me down. And whenever I need a break, I just go for a walk with the dog!
Number four: this is more of a desire, but given that most of my favourite writers published their first novel after the age of 40, my chances of getting my first book out there just increased tenfold (I just have to get my 5 WIPs finished first… but that’s entirely possible because of number three)
Lastly, the fifth best thing about being 40? I have 10 years to prepare for turning 50 😉