Coming of Age {Turning 40 isn’t all bad}

Coming of Age {Turning 40 isn’t all bad}

At 15 years of age, you think you know everything. Remember that phase?

The fact is, whatever stage of life we’re in, we do know more than we did in the last. Even the defiant, opinionated 15 year old has a point – she (for argument’s sake) certainly knows more than a 5 year old and a decade of experience does give you some sort of wisdom.

But does she know everything? Absolutely not!

Turning 40 seems to be THE milestone that everyone dreads. I guess it’s because it is slap back in the middle of most people’s lives. Assuming we’re going to reach the ripe old age of 80, once you’ve hit 40 everything must be downhill, right?

Wrong!

Surprisingly, I wasn’t someone who was dreading turning 40. For years beforehand I would describe myself as “pushing 40” for no reason other than the fact that I was actually quite looking forward to it. The perfect excuse for staying in on a Friday night and a valid reason for the deep crevices that refuse to disappear no matter how much moisturiser is applied.

Seriously folks, there are so many things that are brilliant about ageing, so much so that I thought I would do the charitable thing by sharing with you ‘youngsters’ (anyone under 40), all of the things I’ve learnt since turning 40…

1. A little compassion goes a long way. 

Looking back, I think that I used to be quite judgemental. On the whole, my life has gone pretty smoothly – I’m a competent person and with a little determination, can turn my hand to most things.

I spent years being a baffled as to why others seemed unable to win at this thing called life, why they would constantly make bad choices – surely anyone could see that it was gonna end badly?

Walk a mile in my shoes‘ is a phrase I often remind myself of – unless we’ve experienced the exact situation that someone is in (the good and the bad, the past and the present) we simply do not have the right to judge.

Over recent years I’ve also realised that we have no idea what might be round the corner for us. ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ is another favourite!

2. Downtime makes me a nicer person. 

As a child, Sunday afternoons seemed pretty dull – my mum would read the paper for a good hour (often falling asleep part-way through) and my sister and I would moan at the boredom of it all. Now? I’ve realised that without proper rest time I actually cannot function mentally or physically during the week.

Sorry kids but Sunday afternoons are going to be boring round here for a good while longer! Oh and it’s ok to have downtime – it makes me a better/nicer/kinder person.

3. How to say no and mean it. 

Saying ‘no’ was always a struggle for me. As I’ve got older, it’s almost become a pleasure!

I have discovered more about my capacity as an individual and have put boundaries in place to protect my sanity (and other people’s). I read a book a while back – Boundaries (the clue’s in the title) by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Thompson. Whilst it’s taken me about 5 years to implement, I am much better at doing so. The strap-line says it all really: ‘When to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life

I think I’ve finally learnt to do just that.

4. Making mistakes is crucial. 

I think in-built in all of us is this little voice that puts us off trying new things for fear of making an arse out of ourselves. Perhaps like me, you’re also prone to beating yourself up over the smallest of mistakes.

I’ve learnt that life is about experiences and it’s the only way we grow, change and create a better life. We need to keep trying new things and we need to make mistakes to learn. Isn’t that what we tell our children? Same goes for us!

5. You only get one life. 

Does this one need any explanation? The older I get, the more I realise that instead of instinctively saying ‘Why?’ I need to start saying ‘Why Not?’ a little more often. I’m not an adventurer at heart, more of a home body, but life is for living people! So yeah, #YOLO and all that (still down with the kids no matter what my age might suggest).

Of course this also applies to shopping – a love I don’t imagine I’ll every grow out of!

6. Acceptance is key.

Did you naively get married thinking you could ‘work’ on the other person to make them into the one that you would like them to be? First mistake made!

Over the years, I’ve learnt that striving to change someone is futile – they have to want to change themselves and most importantly, we have to accept people as they are or we will die lonely. Oh and that goes for ourselves too by the way…you can’t love someone else well before you’ve learnt to love yourself. That’s an ongoing battle isn’t it?

7. You can’t take it with you.

That goes for knowledge, possessions and money. I think we all reach this conclusion at some point with regard to money and possessions – that giving it away brings greater pleasure than keeping it to ourselves.

I’ve also learnt over recent years however, that it’s important to give away our knowledge and wisdom. With age you gain experience and hopefully some knowledge – I’ve learnt that empowering others through my experience is the right thing to do and will attempt to do so whenever I can.

8. You’re never too old.

Remember that post I wrote about wearing certain clothes even if my daughters tell me I’m too old? I think that motto goes for everything in life. Who has the right to decide when anyone else is ‘too old’? If I’m still living and breathing, then anything goes – right? And if someone doesn’t approve? Block them!

I suspect that I might look back on this post in about 20 years time, with the same ‘you’ll learn’ smile that I have when looking at my 15 year old now; in fact I hope that I do, because with each new decade we should be growing and learning, adjusting and making room for new ideas. Isn’t that what life is about?

I hope this helps reassure the rest of you that life just gets better as you get older; that gaining knowledge and experience only makes us more powerful. If you’re older than me, I’m sure you have one or two words of wisdom that you’ve learnt in your fifties, sixties or even seventies – I’d love to hear them (leave a comment below).

Staying true to form, I’m now making jokes about “pushing 50” – well I will be the wrong side of 45 in about 4 month’s time!

#YOLO

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32 Comments

  1. June 21, 2017 / 5:47 pm

    I’ve just passed a semi significant birthday, but I’m not sure I have any good advice to pass down. Except this. Learn to cope with change, because most people never find that life settles down for them, so don’t waste you time imagining that if you get just one more thing sorted, that will be it, and you can relax. It’s unlikely to happen!

    • June 21, 2017 / 9:13 pm

      This is something my husband struggles with actually but he’s learning that it never happens either! Great advice 👍🏼

  2. June 21, 2017 / 9:43 pm

    Amen to all of this! Although some of it is easier said than done. I’ve definitely become more adventurous recently. Well, thought about being more adventurous at any rate. There are things I thought I’d never do that I’m now aiming to do!

    • June 21, 2017 / 9:49 pm

      Me too…I think. I’ve at least agreed to thinking about flying long haul again – that’s a start!

  3. June 22, 2017 / 1:23 pm

    Suzanne,

    I’ve tended to wonder, every time that a “zero” or “five” birthday has been approaching, whether starting a new decade or half-decade would mark some dramatic change. So far, it never has. On the other hand, you’re right that we have no idea what might be round the corner — most of us can probably think of people IRL or in blogland whose lives have changed unexpectedly and (often) for the worse. Carpe diem.
    Certainly we should keep on trying new things, but we should beware of spreading ourselves too thin. We may have more knowledge and wisdom than we used to, but we don’t have as much energy — hence our greater need for downtime. And “empoweing others through my experience” is a very good idea, provided that it doesn’t cross the line and become interference — not that you would ever fall into that trap!!
    Twenty years from now, with reasonable luck, the (hypothetical) defiant, opinionated 15-year-old who thinks she knows everything, as a 35-year-old will wonder how she could possibly manage without your advice and expertise.

    In your final sentence, surely you meant “the right side of 45”?

    • June 22, 2017 / 4:23 pm

      Well it’s taken me 5 years post 40 to realise that some changes have been made to this 40-something! I love your wisdom in relation to my points, they really made me think. You’re right that spreading ourselves thin can be a trap but I think we’re all more aware of these things as we get older. I also thought after I wrote this that actually imparting our wisdom and knowledge on others is only ok if it’s been invited – you’re so right! Thanks for commenting and yes, I should have ended with ‘the right side of 45’!

  4. June 23, 2017 / 10:49 am

    Lovely post Suzanne:). I too turned 40 recently and can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. And I’m totally with you on getting some time to relax at the weekend – the older I get, the more I realise how crucial it really is! xx

    • June 23, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Thank you Gail and can I just say? You do NOT look 40! xx

      • June 24, 2017 / 11:24 am

        Aww thankyou Suzanne – some days I feel it! 🙂 xx

  5. June 24, 2017 / 9:31 am

    Och, 40, so what? I didn’t worry about reaching 40. It was crossing the line from 19 to 20 that caused me pain! Now do tell me, what is this “down time” you talk of?

    • June 25, 2017 / 6:46 pm

      Ah you had children at the wrong age John! You’ll get there (when they all prefer doing anything other than spending time with you!).

  6. June 24, 2017 / 6:39 pm

    I loved turning 40, partly because I did some amazing things to celebrate (all organised by the husband). And I can definitely relate to some of the things you mentioned. And yes for downtime as we all know happy parents equal happy kids. Being in your forties completely rocks x

  7. June 24, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    I totally agree – especially #1, but also #7 & #8. I’ll be the other side of 45 in not too many months too. It doesn’t really bother me any more though. The wrinkles do, but the age doesn’t! #SharingTheBlogLove

  8. June 24, 2017 / 10:05 pm

    I found 30 to be the life changer. I was breastfeeding my unsleeping baby, struggling with PND and couldn’t believe I would ever sleep all night again. Turning 40 was a brilliant time for me and as I am approaching 50 I just think my naps will get longer and I’ll be half a century not out.

  9. June 25, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    I’m with you on turning 40 not being terrifying. Yes it makes me think of illness etc (there’s a lot of breast cancer in the female side of my family), but I had a great 30s and now although I still want to do things with N, I’m already getting more free time because he’d rather be out on the farm. I’m still dancing, and we’re all young 40s. Although I can’t drink at parties anymore – I’ll happily go dancing all night and get in early morning, but a party having had only 1 Pimms at 3pm, and I felt so rough the next day. Oh dear.

    I do have the benefit of still being a lot younger than the OH – so I feel young (other than the slight occasional backache and struggling to lose weight).

  10. June 27, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    This will be me next year but I’m actually looking forward to my 40s. I feel wiser, braver and happier in my own skin than ever before. Fab post, I haven’t been reading much lately and I’ve missed your writing. Xx

    • June 27, 2017 / 8:06 pm

      Join the club Mrs – I haven’t been reading but either but am trying to get round to it again now. I also feel much more confident and happier now that I’m in my 40s. Is it because we have less to prove? Pleased to hear you’re doing well. xx

  11. June 27, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    I really love this post Suzanne. I’m 37 this year and I’m not happy about it! It seems that life just gets more serious as you get older, that’s not what I want at all! You have some sage advice there, a lot that I could learn from. But the bit about blocking people who don’t approve of your clothing choices did make me laugh as you’d just said that your children didn’t approve. You can’t block your children, they’re supposed to block you 😉
    Nat.x

  12. June 28, 2017 / 7:33 pm

    Oh I love this post! I am 38 in January and I feel as though time is flying by! It’s tough accepting you are getting older but it’s all about acceptance and taking the lessons you’ve learned to really live your life to the fullest. Great post. Thank you for joining us at #sharingthebloglove

  13. June 28, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    I love this! I am getting closer to 40 and whilst I don’t really have a problem with it. I feel like everyone around me at the moment is so much younger. Not that it really matters, but it makes me more conscious of my age. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  14. June 29, 2017 / 7:20 am

    Injave been the other side of 40 for a couple of years now & think that, and having kids, has definitely made me a stronger person. I totally agree with saying no, and I also seem to make quicker decisions and prioritise better, especially at work. #sharingthebloglove

  15. June 29, 2017 / 7:33 am

    Fantastic post. I tuned 40 last July, which means I am nearly 41. I was looking forward to it too. I had a wine and cheese night with all my favourite girlfriends that ended up with us finally going to bed at 4.30 the next morning, and yes loads of people even slept over. I also celebrated with family and caught up with old high school friends. I am not normally one to celebrate but it was great. This year will be more low key, but I am still excited as it is another fabulous year with my family and friends. I am finally more at peace within that ever before. No complaints here. Congrats on being featured #SharingtheBlogLove

  16. June 29, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    I love this post. I have to say I am dreading 40 (I’m only 31 I have a little time although I know it will pass in the blink of an eye). I agree about changing people. Safe to say I dated enough wrong ones to know my husband is right, flaws and all. He is a smoker, has been for a very very very very long time. I have wanted him to quit for years, especially with the kids in our lives now. But he wasn’t ready and I never forced the subject. He is now in the process of quitting. Totally instigated by him for him and I couldn’t be prouder. It is not my choice to make. That can be a hard thing to accept and come to terms with though. The vices of others are part of what makes them. If we can’t live with them then thats up to us. I used to think I knew it all, now I accept I don’t and can see how much I have learnt over the last 10/20/30 years. I can’t wait to see what the next few decades bring. #SharingtheBlogLove

  17. June 30, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    I turned 39 last month so I’m edging ever closer to 40 but I’m actually looking forward to it! For me though it’s mostly because I think life might get a bit easier…I was 35 when I had my eldest, and another 2 years later and so the second half of my 30s has just been full of babies and sleepless nights. I’m hoping that by the time I’m 40 the boys will nearly be 3 and 5 and I might just be managing a full night’s sleep again! I don’t feel old though – my mum didn’t have me until she was 36 and now she’s 75 but she doesn’t seem old at all, I just hope I take after her 🙂 #SharingTheBlogLove

    • July 2, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      I do think that kids keep you young. And the ages 3-10 are lovely so you’ll be in your prime!

  18. June 30, 2017 / 11:48 pm

    I’m now 36 so 40 is starting to loom, it used to seem a big deal but now it doesn’t (or is that denial?! 🙂 ) #sharingthebloglove

    • July 2, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      No I reached that same stage at about 36 and I began kind of looking forward to it.

  19. July 1, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    Ooh some great words of wisdom, I’m going to cherish these and take this with my as I start knocking on the next decade (it’s not forty anymore!!!) #sharingthebloglove

    • July 2, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      Argh I’m not so far behind!

  20. July 2, 2017 / 11:36 am

    All of this is so true. Shame it took so long to realise!!

  21. July 9, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    I love this post Suzanne and was nodding along all the way through, funny enough I am working on a post about being a 40 plus too, some people have such a downer on it, for me its been blooming fab x

    • July 10, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      I’m with you on that Sarah 😊

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