Kylie van Gelder
7 Things I've Learned in My Forties
Being in your forties truly is fabulous
You’re forty! You made it. Sometimes it does feel like an achievement on its own. I mean at 39 years old and 364 days you thought you were going to die of old age the next morning.
But you didn’t! You survived the self-induced, wine-infused coma and came out better on the other side.
While many say forty is the new thirty, I completely disagree. Your forties are way more awesome than your thirties. At least from my perspective. I sort of sucked in my thirties and I was struggling to have children.
Now, I’ve been learning so much!
If you’re reading this and you’re not yet forty, you’ll have to wait to experience the magic.
1 — You crave change.
Shortly before turning 40, I think many people start to question their life. It’s like a turning point or a subconscious kick to check in with yourself.
At 38 I knew I wanted more. Honestly, I was so afraid to turn forty that I kept telling my husband I have to accomplish something big before the massive day hit. As if I’d become incompetent by midnight.
Now, I think I needed forty to push me forward to go after the change I was craving.
2 — You want more meaning in your life.
You look differently at life once you hit the big 4–0 plus. You question who you are as a person, partner and parent. At least this is what happened to me.
I realized there is so much more to life than what I believed in my twenties and thirties. Although truth be told, some people in their twenties and thirties are crushing it nowadays.
But for me, my goal is to find and truly discover who I am as a person — even if this means feeling stuck and uncertain at times.
“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you’re just doing research.” — Carl Jung
It’s like we need our twenties and thirties for experience and our forties are there to bring meaning to what we’ve learned.
3 — You start to care less about unimportant things.
I remember when I didn’t have to work so hard to keep my butt up. Now it feels like a full-time project that never ends.
But, again, I’m almost 43 and I really don’t care as much as my jog-every-single-day self did at 28. Remember, I said as much.
Life has a funny way of showing you what’s important.
And while I’d love to have sleek, cellulite-free legs, a wrinkle-free face and eyelids that don’t move when I put eyeshadow on, it’s just not what’s happening now.
I’d rather spend time focusing on the people I love and doing the things I love than caring about the unimportant.
4 — You take control of your happiness and care less about what others think.
In your twenties, you cared so much about what other people thought. Back then, it was all about the external world. This is exactly how it was in my head anyway.
It still lingers in my forties, but definitely a lot less.
I’ve grown up. Matured phenomenally — well, hopefully, I have.
“The 18/40/60 rule to happiness: At age 18, people care very much about what others think of them. By age 40, they learn not to worry about what others think. By age 60, they figure out that no one was thinking about them in the first place.” — Daniel Amen
Caring less about what others think — friends, family members, employers, the negative voice in my head — is helping me take ownership of my happiness.
In your forties, I think you start to discover you want happiness over likes, a list of acquaintances and a pay stub from someplace that sucks your life away more than it fills it up.
5 — You want to surround yourself with like-minded, supportive people.
In your forties, you’re no longer looking for just any friend. You want to be around people who lift you up and push you to be a better person.
I know I want to engage with mentally stimulating people now, not just hang out because you’re a friend of a friend and I want to be polite.
Searching for like-minded, supportive people has become the addition I’ve been missing. Maybe it’s the self-help path I’m on that’s prompting this feeling too.
All I know is after I turned forty and started making shifts in my life, old friends disappeared and new friends with deeper connections appeared.
6— You want to be a grown-up.
If you’re like me, you also don’t want to act like you’re in your twenties anymore. The hangover hurts too much.
And you’re so thankful social media didn’t exist 25 years ago. Like really, really thankful.
Maybe it’s the ticking of our biological clock or the extra grey hairs. Things just change. You don’t want to go back to how it was. If you could, it would mean losing all that you’ve learned.
Plus, you know turning twenty again just feels like a bad idea.
Even though I can’t do it, here’s a link to what I would tell my 20-year-old self.
7 — You’ve earned your life experiences and other people notice.
This feeling completely set in when I turned forty. It’s as if I woke up and was no longer new to the world of grown-ups. My life experiences started speaking for themselves.
I am actually a full-fledged adult.
WTF?! When did this happen?
In your twenties and thirties, you may have been building your career, navigating the various ladders. Or maybe you’re like me and you were completely lost — ok, still sort of lost in your forties.
Either way, once you hit forty, you’ve accumulated substantial experience in all aspects of your life.
You have stripes on your shoulders. You’re a decorated marine — so to speak. You’ve been there and done that and likely have several t-shirts to prove it.
This is part of what makes forty so flipping fantastic!
What’s even better about being 40? People start taking you more seriously.
And while you care less about what they think, it’s nice to be seen as someone who knows what they’re talking about without the other older person rolling their eyes and smirking.
That said, I’ll leave you with a quote because it nicely sums up how great it is to be in your forties.
The best thing about being 45 is not taking myself so seriously. Do I miss the package I came in at 25? I do. Gravity is no ones friend. Yet the perspective I’ve gained is so worth the wear and tear. What would have mortified me at 25 is now simply fodder for a funny, relatable story. Also? I was a waitress at 25, and now I’m an author. Forty-five is definitely better.” — Jen Lancaster
If you decide to hop on any of my vivacious social media platforms, you can find them below.
The twit-mobile (a.k.a Twitter) and become my fourth or fifth follower.
Instagram and my poorly colour-coordinated grid.
My sad LinkedIn profile.
I promise, one day I’ll be consistently active on a platform. I just can’t promise which one or when.