There we are! Now you know exactly how old I am! Last month I turned 42. And if you are someone who was surprised and thought, “Wow! You look much younger than 42!”, please know that I consider you my best friend! And in case you are one of those who were also surprised, but thought, “really? That’s it? You are JUST 42?”, well, then I don’t really know what to say or maybe I don’t want to say anything to you!! (hmph ) (or perhaps you are basing your impression of my age on my wisdom and not my looks – well then I guess, we are okay.)
Anyhow. Whatever you may think or not – inside of me there is still this little starry-eyed girl, waiting for magical things to happen to her!
But you may wonder, why 42? What’s so special about it? People talk about turning 40 or 50 or whatever, but where does this middle of the decade 42 figure? Actually, I did think of writing this post when I turned 40 – but you know, it doesn’t rhyme with whoopsie doo (which was my reaction on completing the 4th decade of my life) and secondly, I didn’t really know much about living in my 40s, considering I was just stepping into them. So now, with two years into my 5th decade, I guess I have a better sense of how the 40s are going.
So how do the 40s feel?
Feel??? Two years down the line I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE I AM 40 and counting! When we were kids and our parents were 40 – well they seemed so old! And even when I was in my 20s – the forty-year olds just seemed so much older and bigger! And I guess, that’s where I am now. But really? Seriously? I don’t feel that old! I don’t feel much different from how I felt at 25 maybe or even 15. It is always a shock when I have to mention anywhere that I have almost 20 years of work experience. Yikes! When did I do all that?
There was no earth-shattering change when I turned forty, it’s more like slowly getting boiled in heating water when suddenly you realise, it is too hot and that you have most likely crossed the mid point of your life!! HALF YOUR LIFE GONE! Last you remember, you were in your 20s and suddenly, hey! The 40s are here. What happened to the 30s? aahh…they went by in building a family and a career. Whoosh and gone! Barely noticed. The first born is already 11 and one didn’t realise how quickly the years passed as he went from toddler to pre-teen! And now, one is scrambling to look at the bucket list to see how much is unticked. As Kapil said, you suddenly realise you have wasted away 40 years of your life and probably will waste away the next 40 too!
But jokes aside, this is a good time to reflect on all that you have achieved, choices you made and how you plan to steer the rest of your life.
What’s changed the most?
The size first of all (eyes roll). Going from petite to large (and now thankfully back to medium, but still). The muffin top – and that’s not going anywhere. The drooping skin (not going to go back in however much you puff your cheeks out or pull the skin back). Oh, don’t ask. For a good 25-30 years of my life, I looked much younger than my age – was totally used to being called kiddo, chhotu (small), tiny and so on. In high school, people thought I was in middle school, in college I looked like a school kid, after marriage I looked like I was in college. You get the drift! I guess things changed after the first baby. So yes it is hard to finally accept that you are not only looking your age – you might actually be looking more than that!!! And oh, no woman will ever the forget the first time she was called AUNTY!!!! (well mine happened in 20s but I think those kids were daft!!)
Does one feel more liberated?
Whenever I read a piece on turning 40, one thing that jumped out was how people felt liberated, that they didn’t have to please anyone and could speak their mind much more easily as compared to when they were in their 20s. I am not so sure that is true in my case. For one, I was never really felt the need to do anything to please anyone. I was never one to care about how I looked or what boys or the peer group thought of me . I was pretty sure and confident of myself, had a great group of friends and never really needed to act like someone else to get attention. (maybe I was always in my forties?)
But now, as one forms a web of professional and personal relationships, and is more integrated into various networks as compared to the 20s and even 30s, it becomes natural to stop and think of what a decision or action may mean for others around you. True, I am still not a people pleaser, but much more aware of people around me. It takes some maturity to learn to understand different points of view and unlike my 20s, when I was always pretty sure of what I did or decisions I made, now I step back, think about various aspects and then make decision – which may sometimes be different from the original idea. Even at work, one needs to develop their own image, a personal brand and ensure that they are perceived the way they want to. And I think this is a natural change on the path to maturity.
But does one feel more mature?
Perhaps yes. You have a decade more of experiences in life than a thirty-year-old but that does not automatically mean maturity. Hell, I see so many people in their 40s, 50s and 60s and so on, sometimes acting so immaturely, it is amusing! With the advent of social media – everyone is free to spout out what they want and many times, the rest of the world gets a free show of their maturity levels! So, unless we use those experiences to learn and move on, maturity is not guaranteed.
Forgotten your childhood?
Oh no, never! In fact, the forties are seeing me revisit my childhood! With my kids, I am enjoying some of those things that I had forgotten to, in my 20s and even 30s! I just spent a good part of a three-day holiday building Legos with my son and I am not sure which one of us was more happy when he got quite a few Lego sets on his last birthday! Oh and of course my Enid Blytons. Thanks again to my son, I have re-read the entire Famous Five series and many more. This birthday he was gifted a set of books that were my favourites! (wink, wink!) Now, I am looking forward to playing with some of the games he got on this birthday! (ROFL). And did I ever tell you about my obsession with theme birthday parties? (check out the spy party and the minecraft party!)
Do I feel settled?
Well yes and no! Much of what was planned in the 20s has been achieved – and some new unexpected things have happened. (this blog for instance!) Life has not gone exactly as planned – but then when does it do that ever? I have found out that I am able to stick to my principles, have a good amount of courage of conviction and the strength to bear tough times. I have also understood my weaknesses better and am working on them.
Many times, I feel like I did at the start of my career – full of excitement and hope – to do something new, something big. An unquenchable thirst has taken hold of me – to keep doing more and going further. There is so much more that I need to do, both at a personal and professional level. And hopefully the second half the 5th decade will free up some mind space to think bigger.
Can’t wait for the Fifties!
The late thirties and forties have ended up being tougher than all my earlier years put together and I am learning to weather the highs and lows. Sincerely hoping that the rest of this decade has no nasty surprises waiting for me. And while forties may be good and all that, but really, I am just waiting for my 50s. That’s when real liberation will come! The pesky little kids will be grown up (at least the older one), and I will hopefully have more time on my hands. (I really envy my colleagues who have grown up kids and seem to be much more at peace!!) I am also hoping to be liberated from the monthly cycles – now that the child-bearing responsibility is over and done with!
I really look forward to some quiet time when I can focus on some of the other ideas and dreams that have started germinating within me. That would be the time to spread my wings! Just keeping my fingers crossed and wish for a healthy body and an active brain for the next few decades, because ‘miles to go before I sleep’…….
Where are you on your timeline and how do you feel about it? Do share your thoughts and tips! Look forward to hearing from you. And do share this blog with others!
Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share and spread the word!
Regards, Sakshi aka tripleamommy
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