Why My 40's is the New 20's and I Can't Wait Till My Birthday

So if you hadn't guessed by the title of this blog, yes I am turning 40 this year. No, this will not be another cliché blog trying to convince its readers and the author creating it, that life is great at 40. Cynicism aside, there are some truths to be told and as I contemplate the coming of a new decade of my life, it's not going to be all bad, it's going to be one hell of a ride.

I confess that I am a person who likes making lists. It's no surprise that when I approached this topic, I had already subconsciously created a pros and cons list about my upcoming birthday. I had also reached into my mental draw, where I keep my notes I made about my friends and family, who also reached this milestone. I am a witness to the effect this number has had on women, as it steadily approaches and then engulfs them like a wave, moving them around, forcing them to find their way again. Though change can be good, what if it's too hard to find yourself again?

Let's go back to the lists and compare two decades ago.

A Woman in Her 20's

As I think of women at this age it's easy to get carried away by youthful good looks. Amazonian toned bodies, plump face and bouncy hair. Free-spirited and open-minded also come into that picture. But if I'm honest with myself and really think back, I remember my 20's a little differently. 

Education separation anxiety and the pursuit for the golden career. Looking for a job, feeling broke, changing jobs and sometimes feeling like a failure. Low paying work whilst trying to prove you are a wonder kid at multi-tasking, just so you'll get noticed and take on more responsibility. That's when life starts to get real. Your career journey becomes more about your age and that you are too young to be taken seriously, not enough experience. Starting a career is hard for anyone, but harder when your age is pitted against you.

On the other hand, getting attention was all too easy. At this age there's lots of sexual tension in the air as peacock feathers fly all around. Not the right time for a serious relationship, but when love takes you by surprise, it certainly makes a huge splash at a time you were trying to focus on yourself. Life then becomes all about the relationship, the roof over "our" heads and building a life "together". Romantic, some of the time, because the topic of having children was just a topic. But your mid-twenties relationship was like having a sticker on your head that read: "In Her Prime". I'm sure it doesn't happen anymore, (I hope), but back then, when you were interviewed for a job you were asked: "How old are you?" You were being sized up, like you might suddenly fall pregnant on the spot and then disappear into a maternity abyss. Seriously, my child bearing hips and wedding ring finger was topical, and employers cringed with the thought of maternity leave like UV light is to a vampire.  

I loved you sweet 20's, you were fun, my bum was firm, my stomach flat, but I really don't miss the mess.

A Woman in Her 30's

When you reach your 30's you like to think you have it all under control, you are the Goddess Lady Justice. Job, relationship and maybe even children. Life is a lot more serious and the responsibilities a lot more demanding. The words "me, my and self" drift off to the back of the queue. A loose string starts to hang on that cool top you used to wear to go out, slowly unraveling. The top is looking a little worn out, but you keep it hung up in the cupboard anyway, a reminder of your cute younger self if only you still fit into it. 

If at this stage you have had children, the scales slam to the ground with the weight of the world it seems. You are responsible for a child. What happens between birth and when that child or several children get older is anyone's guess, it's that period of life swallowed up in the grey matter. You function best in a dream state. The lights are on but no one is home. But it's so worth it for those little angels - exhausting, life sucking, nipple cracking, ten coffees in a line and red wine to make it all fine. The love you feel for them is all too consuming, and you wonder where your partner has been all this time? Did I leave him at the supermarket?

As a couple you become more deeply connected and you finally accept that your partner has conjoined the words "sexy" and "mum" into the same sentence. Trying to steal moments together is like playing Russian roulette. Will the kids or won't the kids walk in on us, actually we are only just trying to talk. Sex is like boiling the kettle without switching it off. You never get the chance to make a decent cup of tea with the kids around.

As you reach your late 30's, the jigsaw pieces are slowly falling into place, but one piece in the puzzle is missing. How did it get lost, when did that happen? You've probably guessed this missing piece is the woman standing in front of you in the mirror. She has a name, an altered reflection, but she's still there and you look to your partner to help you find her again. The problem here is that your partner is not a mind reader, and whilst you wish they would look at you like you were in your 20's again, you don't get that sort of attention from them anymore, it's different. 

Looking Ahead to the 40's

Some women look towards the coming of their 40th birthday like bitter lemon, it just tastes more sour the longer you suck on it. If I ignore it, it will go away and hopefully no one rubs it in. You realise that you have way more grey hair now and your stomach just hangs, like your poor depleted breasts. Other women approach this special birthday like they are going to war on themselves. Exercise, diet, beauty regimes and getting a new tattoo. They believe that life doesn't just stop at 40, and they are living proof of that.

Personally, after much soul searching, I have been on both sides of that fence and neither has made it feel any better. But in taking some time to focus on "me, my and self", I have found an amazing place that I am completely content with. It's a bit like 'Finding Nemo'. Poor 'Marlin' has to travel across a scary ocean to find his son and at the end of it he does, and he is changed, he is worldly and brave. I should mention that I watch a lot of kids cartoons and couldn't find the analogy in 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Anyway, what I mean is that I accept who I am today, and I am a brilliant, sexy (on a queen day), confident woman. My confidence is addictive and my partner loves and desires me as I love him. If I'm feeling great, I make others around me feel good to, and I feel that energy in return. 

I love who I am now, because I love myself and my stretch mark tiger stripes. I am going to enjoy my 40's because I found the woman in the mirror and she is also a mother and a wife. 


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