No, I'm not scrapping around for the positivities of getting older (OK, maybe I am), but there are definitely positives to age and I think it's important to remember them when you are bemoaning your saggy tummy and bum, staring horrified at your crows feet and complaining (yet again) that you have no idea what it feels like to NOT be tired all the time.
So here are my top best things about being in my 40s.
I definitely am. It's not just because I did my Open University degree from age 34-40, although that no doubt helped, but the bottom line is that after spending 41 years on this planet I've picked up a thing or two. Mostly about understanding people, but also a better understanding of the world, politics, environment and Life generally. I can hold my own in a debate about Feminism. NO way on this earth I could have done that 30 years ago.
I've made a lot of my big mistakes already and I've (hopefully) learnt from them. No doubt I'll make a few more before my time is up, but having made so many I know anything can be fixed, no matter how hopeless they look at the time.
I like my body and know my clothes
It's taken a bloody long time, but I think I've figured out what clothes suit me and what don't. It's a sad fact of life that once we appreciate the shape of our bodies, learn to love them to some degree, they are already on their way out.
For me, being pregnant helped me appreciate my body the most. I know look at my wrinkled belly and it reminds of my children, not of an ageing body. I know a cinched in waist, no matter the size, will always make you look fabulous and wearing voluminous dresses or tops with no shape will do the complete opposite.
I'm waaaaaay more interesting
I'd like to think I've always been a fairly interesting person. People always seemed to remember me from a distant meeting whilst I was scrapping around in the recesses of my mind just trying to remember their face. I think this was mostly borne from the fact I was over 18 before I realised I was capable of being thought of as pretty. My family had convinced me I was Frankenstein's monster so I worked on my personality, established a sense of humour and focussed on watching and figuring things out.
I think what makes me more interesting now is my life experience. I have a "colourful" past (or so I'm told) and I have no issue talking about it. I find other people's past just as interesting and could wile away a whole evening talking about loads of topics. I think I have depth, whereas in my 20s I was a bit empty, I now realise.
Oh yes, I've got more money than I had in my 20s and 30s. It didn't magically appear but I made good decisions in work, improved on my knowledge and worked my way up. I have a mortgage, a big house, but can afford to buy myself an item or two of clothing each month and buy that Clarins product. In my 20s I was earning less than £700 a month and living in a bedsit. I know which I prefer.
I know who I am and what I like
This is a biggy for me. I know what freaks me out, what brings up my anxiety and what calms me down and THIS alone is worth being in my 40s. In my 20s and 30s I got all of those emotions and had no idea what the hell was going on. I would argue with those around me and spend hours feeling sorry for myself with no real idea on how to go about fixing it.
Whilst I still struggle occasionally, on the whole I know "why" and know "how" to make myself feel better. A brisk walk, a spot of gardening, 20 minutes by myself. I'm quicker to apologise for my actions and to move on.
I know how I form friendships
I'm a slow burner. There is just no two ways about it. I recently went to a tweet up (which I had to psych myself up for weeks in advance) to go and say "hi" to a bunch of people I didn't know. They were lovely, welcoming, friendly and just delightful, but I was a fish out of water. I felt uncomfortable, I had no reference to talk to them and I just wanted to be at home. I know this seems contrary to my point above, but there was an agenda to meeting these people, rather than it being a spontaneous, accidental chat with people I knew around me in case things went pear shaped. Firstly, I'm very picky about who I'm friends with, but once I know we've hit it off, I could well be the most loyal friend you have. I'm happy to live with this. It's just the way I am. Please don't mistake my aloofness for anything other than mild terror.
I'm prepared for child rearing
I think I would have been a terrible mother in my 20s and early 30s. I would say that wouldn't I? I do think it's true though. Of course I don't care remotely whether you are 16 or 46 when you have your children, provided you raise children to be considerate, kind, polite and with a suitable moral code. I know the advantages to raising children in your 20s, but for me, this was definitely the right age for it.
Now with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old and me in my 40s I have the strength of character to ignore short term gains in order to ensure long term achievement.
I have had the time to reflect on my own upbringing, stop finger pointing, accept both sides of the story and adapt my teachings to try and not make the same mistakes. Of course I will create a whole bunch of new ones, that is inevitable, but as one of my goals is to be as honest with my children as I can (within context and reason), I'm hoping they'll accept some of those mistakes and build on top of them for their children. Of course I also have the skill (and the psychology degree) to create new ways to get a toddler to eat vegetables. THAT is my biggest achievement.
I enjoy laughing so much more now than I ever did. I laughed a lot years ago too, but I think I took it for granted. Now if I spend an evening with friends and we laugh a lot, I appreciate how fantastic it is. I live for the joy and laughter now and know that in a world of responsibility, pain and emotion, how the laughter and joy should be celebrated all the more.
I appreciate a cup of tea
How wonderful can this be? I used to stare at my parents in disbelief as they made their third cup of tea of the day in 40 degree heat ("it helps you cool down"), but I really do get it. Tea, cake, a meal out at a good restaurant, a spontaneous walk in the woods. It is the little things in life that bring the greatest joy and it's just a shame it took getting to 40 to discover that. I intend to appreciate it.
So yeah, lots of rubbish things about getting older, but I think FAR more good things come with age. What are your best things about getting older?
I am 40 years old. This is the blog about how I cope with the "new" age through the trials and tribulations of juggling work, childcare and how I manage to remain presentable and occasionally wear the latest season's trend.
Blogs at: Free Falling into 40
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