Most people hate getting older. Not me, I am loving it — at the moment anyway.
I am now in my early 40s. Before I turned 40, I dreaded leaving my 30s. I was not yet ready to be fully mature. But of course I had no control over the ageing process and 40 I turned — at around the time that the coronavirus pandemic began.
The pandemic gave me the opportunity to get used to being 40 and re-evaluate my life. My 20s and 30s were a blur of different work experiences, lots of travel, a couple of stints living overseas and a few serious relationships.
At 40 and over, I’ve had a chance to see what worked and what didn’t during those two decades of my life. I’ve realised the importance of letting go of things that don’t matter and don’t work — friendships that have run their course, jobs that are no longer suitable and hobbies I have gotten bored of.
Now my life is relatively settled. I am in a long-term relationship, am a home owner and live with my partner and cat. I also have a permanent stable job. It’s probably the most stable I have ever been in my whole life.
When I was younger, I dreaded the words ‘settling down’. I did not want a bar of it, which is why I travelled a lot and had a number of romantic relationships. I also wanted to be sure there was an ‘out’— a way I could leave a job or a relationship if I wasn’t happy. This was probably due to the fact that I had strict parents and often felt like I was controlled when I was younger. I wanted as much freedom and independence as I could get, when I moved out of my parents’ house.
However, there is only so much moving house, travelling and changing jobs that one can take and here I am, finally somewhat settled in life and kind of liking it too.
So these are the main reasons why I am loving being in my 40s.
1. Feeling more confident in my myself
In my 20s and 30s, I did not feel that confident in making decisions, taking risks and just believing in myself. I was often swayed by the opinions of my family, friends and work colleagues.
Now after some life experience, I feel more confident in myself — I am better at saying ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do or avoiding friendships that are not good for me. I am becoming more assertive at work and more confident in my abilities to do things.
2. Taking more calculated risks
When I was younger, despite being a usually cautious person, I took big risks at times. Some paid off and some did not. I don’t regret the big decisions I made like living in London and Korea and moving to Melbourne. But I do regret some smaller risks I took, like dating people that weren’t right for me and having toxic friendships.
I have always been a bit anxious about driving a car, despite having ridden a scooter for 5 years, which many of my friends said was a lot scarier than driving. I used to let my fear of the road and failed driving lessons of the past get in the way of persisting with driving and completing the license test.
Now I am finally learning to drive again, deciding not to let my fear of being on the road dominate now. I calculated the risk and realised it is a fairly safe way to be on the road and that I just need to be aware of the hazards and behaviour of other drivers when I am on the road.
3. Not putting up with things that are below your standards
As a young person, I put up with a lot of things that I would not put up with now. In my 20s and 30s, I would do the following:
· Date people who were not suitable
· Have friends who were not positive/supportive/loyal
· Do favours for people when I did not want to
· Do more work than was required which cut into my personal time,
· Accepted lower pay than was necessary for my job.
Now in my 40s, I say no to all of the above and gosh do I feel good about that!
4. Being more ambitious/focussed
When I was younger, I often felt that I was drifting through life rather than really living it. Sometimes, I spent hours wandering around shopping centres for hours, buying stuff I did not need.
Now I’ve realised I don’t want to live my life that way. Of course, I still love shopping but I think my existence on this earth should have more meaning and purpose than succumbing to the commercialism of this society, as tempting as it is.
I have decided that I would like to apply for a higher role at work this year, get my driver’s licence and write more. It’s time to stop dawdling and go after what I really want.
5. Being wiser
When you have been on the planet for a bit longer, it does make you more wise. You understand people more, the way society works and the politics of the workplace.
Nothing makes you more wise than death. When my Dad died over a year ago, I started to think about death a lot more and the meaning of life and that I wanted to live my life with more meaning and purpose.
Grief is so painful but it can make you so wise. I have survived a year of grief for my Dad and its made me so much wiser. In the face of death, all the little things really do not matter — that the coffee you ordered is cold or that you are running late for work or that someone is annoying you on the train.
So don’t fear your 40s — be ready for a time of great reflection, soul searching and wisdom.