1 – More time on earth = more life experience. And with that experience comes a multitude of wisdom and pearls. The way people behave, talk, and dress is no longer a surprise. You’ve seen it all. There are a lot of interesting, and crazy, people out there. That’s what makes the world such a fascinating place. You have stepped away from trying to fit in and follow a mold – instead, you are beginning to finally notice what’s out there. And that is exciting.
2 – Not caring what people think about you. At least not as much as you used to. You have learned that it is a ridiculous waste of time, and it strips away your unique beauty and individuality. Besides, now you realize people really aren’t thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are. And if they do think about you a lot, they have some sort of problem. So you have learned to stay away.
3 – Realizing how wonderful it is to just be you. Why on earth did you want to wear the same boots, jeans, and carry the same handbag as everyone else, anyway? Who said this was a great idea? Now you finally give yourself permission to celebrate your personality and quirkiness.
4 – Seeing that life has an end point, and if you don’t start living it up, it will be too late. Maybe it’s watching your parents age, or hearing a young person call 40 “old”, or the first time a 25 year old calls you “madam” and offers to take your groceries to your car. Whatever it is, you are aware that you are in a brand new stage of life. One that includes women with reading glasses wearing clothes by Eileen Fisher (yes, I have both, but my glasses make me look smart, not old). With this new understanding, you know you need to get going and get as much out of this life as you possibly can. Travel, start a new career, go out with friends, take a yoga class, go to a bed and breakfast with your husband, take the kids to Six Flaggs. Anything to get as much out of every minute that you can. Because this wonderful life can end all too quickly.
5 – You realize life is too short to spend with people you don’t like or who drain your energy. You have noticed that certain people leave you feeling inspired and energetic, and others leave you exhausted. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but there is just something about them that doesn’t jive with you. So instead of trying to be friends, or being nice so that person will like you, you learn how to politely squeeze them out of your life. Because you have infinitely better things to do with your time and precious energy.
6 – The kids are older and in a different stage of life. Gone are the days of diapers, baby swings, and toys all over the house. You are almost guaranteed a full night’s rest – assuming no one is sick, you haven’t had caffeine after 4 or spicy food for dinner, and your husband’s bathroom breaks don’t wake you (because he is getting old, too). The kids are becoming real people with real personalities and are fun to have conversations with. “Mommy, if I sneeze with my eyes open, will snot fly out of my eyes?”. Kids running around the yard, riding bikes to friends houses, evenings of band concerts and baseball games, and family trips to the movies are now the norm. And it is quite lovely.
7 – You start to see the signs of aging. Gray hairs, crows feet, a new diagnosis of high blood pressure, knee pain. It is a wake up call, for sure. But an important one. It teaches us that it is time to really start taking care of ourselves before we start falling apart. Regular exercise, healthy food, a good skin care routine, and time alone are more important now than ever. And at this stage, we directly see the effects of not giving ourselves the attention we need and deserve.
8 – You realize you don’t need to people please anymore. Enough is enough. Why do we want everyone to like us? I’m sure is has something to do with conformity, tribal needs, and survival instinct. But as we get older, it doesn’t seem to matter as much. What is more important is finding your tribe and those who add meaning to your life. Kindness is still a priority, but not brown nosing. If they don’t like you for you, forget it.
9 – You are well established in your career. Work becomes more fun, you are more respected, and you make more money. I work in the medical field and patients and families are much more interested in what I have to say now that I have a streak of gray running through my hair. And 15 years of clinical experience. Although there is something new to be learned everyday, we can finally relax a bit and be confident in our skills and knowledge. The professional world is one place where being young is not necessarily coveted.
10 – Learning that drama is soooo overated. Remember when we would get swept up in all the goings on at the office, or with so and so, and wasn’t it crazy how she did this or that – I mean, what was she thinking? Now, we know better. We know to stay out of it. No more gossip. No more lengthy conversations about what is or isn’t fair. An intelligent debate, sure. But nothing that is just going use up a bunch of energy and put us in a rotten mood for the rest of the evening. Who needs that?
I am certainly enjoying my fourties and trying to soak up as much of life as I can.
What do you love about your age?