As you may have noticed, I have been in a fair sized panic over the fact that in six months time I will turn the big four-oh. I was lying in bed the other night, unable to get to sleep (what’s new!) and began to ponder why it is that I am panicking about, what is effectively, just another birthday. I came to the conclusion that it is because society seems to consider “thirty-somethings” to be in the prime of their lives, so it follows that if you are turning forty you are no longer going to be in the prime of your life.
When you are in your thirties you are generally right up there on the corporate ladder (if that’s your particular thing). You are generally married, planning a wedding, or surfing the social scene with glee and no thoughts of marriage. And all of those options are considered perfectly acceptable when you’re thirtyish.
You either have kids, are busy making kids, or are determinedly anti having kids and, once again, that’s all considered good. Wherever you are in your particular life, if you are “thirty-something”, it’s considered an absolutely splendid place to be.
When you turn forty it’s an entirely different ball-game. If you find yourself still single (even if it’s by choice) you are on the receiving end of those knowing, pitying, “poor girl, she’s on the shelf” type of looks. Work-wise you are viewed as being just over the crest of the wave, as opposed to riding the wave. If you started a family young, you are facing those torrid years of parenting a teen, or watching them leave home; if you embarked on the parenting path a little later, you are the “older parent” at parent-teacher meetings. You just can’t win!Surprisingly enough, having taken all of the above into consideration, I have decided that I am actually looking forward to turning forty. Seriously, I am.
As I approach forty I feel completely comfortable with who I am for the first time in my life. I have found a degree of self-acceptance that I never thought possible. That’s not to say that I don’t see my weaknesses, trust me, I do. I still consider myself a work in progress, but I am not planning to change who I am, I plan to improve who I am, big difference, huge!
I think when you are fortyish you let go of a lot of the angst and emotional turmoil that you wrestled with in your twenties and thirties. You realise that things aren’t as terrifyingly serious as you once thought. Life isn’t all black and white. If I fall slightly short of my ideals, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not failure.
I have finally accepted that I may not be the best mother, best wife, best housekeeper or best employee; but I am still good, or at the very least adequate, in all of these roles. I make mistakes every single day, but I am learning as I go along and I am enjoying the path I am traveling. I am making memories, building relationships and having fun; growing as a person. And isn’t that what life’s all about?
Bring on that birthday….. cake, candles, the whole bang shoot!