When I was in my early twenties I watched a talk show all about women in their forties. I have always remembered that show, and have carried what I learned from it with me ever since.
The women were describing the adult years, comparing the previous decades with the one they were currently in, their forties.
The twenties. Experimentation. Confusion. Everyone seems older, more respected, they all seem to ‘have their shit together’ while you’re struggling to ‘find your shit’ to begin with. We choose to move in with our partners, get married, have children, or dive head first into our careers. New paths, and they must be learned the hard way. Trial and error.
The thirties. Becoming who you are. Fruition. We now we have skills to meet our intentions. We are better employees, wiser mothers, more mature partners in relationships. We’re putting the final pieces together, getting that much closer to ‘having it all’.
The decade that these women spoke of that intrigued me the most was the one they themselves were in. Their Forties.
They went on about the confidence and magic that comes with this new age. It was music to my very unconfident twenty something ears. I’ve been looking forward to turning forty ever since, and hoping to do so with graceful ease.
I took the years on as they came, always feeling the age I was, continually attempting to learn and grow and become more myself as time moved forward.
Those years played out pretty much as the ladies on the program said they would.
Now, I can literally feel my confidence growing.
I have learned how to care for myself and others in ways I couldn’t have imagined prior.
I’m learning to allow myself to be happy. To notice and appreciate how right everything is in my life! When you are mature enough to own your life, the wonderful shit as well as the bad, that’s a powerful realization.
I always hated it when a man would say “I’m not supposed to ask a woman this, but how old are you?” Why aren’t you supposed to ask a woman her age? Is it something negative, to be hidden? It Never was for me, nor will it ever be. There’s a Coco Chanel quote that states, “A woman has the age she deserves.” How beautiful is that.
I remember my twenties pretty well, and not with envy. It was a time of finding myself for sure. Having daughters within those years certainly helped to mature me. Yet it also helped to add to the inner confusion, the layers life had laid over top of the true me. Having children has a tendency to change “you” into “their mom”. It’s only natural to then question who it is “you” really were to begin with.
All I ever really knew was that I loved to write. I filled a huge trunk with notebooks during my teen years. I was told by teachers, friends, & family that I had a Gift. I believed them. The writing nerve took a backseat to my new motherhood tasks as I dove in head first. I loved being a mom, and I was good at it.
Eventually, in my mid-twenties I picked the pen back up. This time I wrote something that was pretty incredible. I started sending submissions out to magazines and the like. This was fifteen years ago, and snail mail was still king. The rejection letters poured in quicker than I could seal the outbound envelopes. I began to question the only true thing about myself. Perhaps I just wasn’t good enough.
The rest of those years I spent a lot of time chasing and catching dreams that weren’t mine. In my late twenties and early thirties, social media really began to pop. I took to writing on my Facebook wall like a bee takes to making honey. It came naturally. Suddenly, I had an audience. People enjoyed reading my stuff! They related to my words, and found comfort in them. I was inspired.
Life added a surprise baby to the mix in my thirties, a boy. Just like when I had become a mother in my twenties, that was sometimes the only part of myself I was sure of.
There were many years I spent doing things I didn’t enjoy doing. From working at jobs I despised to going to events that I dreaded. I figured it was part of life. We all have to do things we don’t want to.
I don’t think that way anymore. I gradually learned that I could stop doing things I hated. I could leave jobs that weren’t making me feel appreciated and valuable. I could leave friendships that left me feeling emotionally drained. I could move out of homes that didn’t fit anymore. Sometimes we have a hard time letting ourselves be happy. Maybe we’re scared of the responsibility that comes with owning our individual fates. Maybe we were told that life isn’t fair. I call bullshit on that. It IS.
So I just started owning it all. My life, my choices, decisions, and dreams. I began to let go of everything that wasn’t true to self. Other people’s dreams. Other people’s opinions.
In my mid-thirties. I wrote a story about my son, and my surprise, unplanned pregnancy and birth. On a whim, I sent it off to a website I found online that focused on single motherhood. They replied immediately that my story would be published. It went on to be read thousands of times and I wrote for that website for about a year. One day they offered me a CONTRACT. They were gonna PAY ME for WRITING! THIS, my friends, is a DREAM that I brought to life.
As a twenty something, you can’t compare yourself to a thirty or forty something, because you have no clue who you will be at that age. Yet as a forty something, you can look back at who you were at those ages and compare it with whom you’ve become. It’s a powerful feeling.
In your twenties, men are happy to have you, but they are nowhere near as appreciative as they will be when they’re older. They climb into their thirties and forties with us, and the pond thins, people are paired, they change, and if you consciously hold on to your looks and your character through the process, you’ll realize soon enough that as a beautiful woman at forty you are worth much more than you were as a beautiful woman at twenty-five or thirty. Men KNOW now how rare a woman’s love is, and what it’s worth, and they treat you accordingly. For every boy that left me crying years ago there have been even more men that I’ve left in a similar circumstance as I’ve grown into Myself.
Maternally it’s an amazing time. On one hand, by the time you reach your forties, you may have grown children, possibly even grandchildren! Yet at the same time, you may be just STARTING your motherhood journey, as all systems still go! It thrills me, the knowledge alone. It’s incredible.
By the time you hit forty, you probably have had some of the same best friends for over half your life. There’s something very special about loving the same group of people at forty as you did at fourteen. I cherish it.
One of the hardest parts of being a young adult is accepting yourself fully. It’s difficult to sort out all the different roles you play in life, I think particularly so for women. On one hand, if you are a mom, you may feel like you are boxed into that singular role, and it feels uncomfortable to be anything but a mom, and the other parts of you may not seem to fit. As you grow and mature, your confidence builds and you begin to fully accept yourself, all of yourself. Moms are also sensual, sexual women. Moms are also kickass career women. Moms are also anything else they want to be, and it doesn’t take away from their motherhood one bit. At forty, you know for sure that there’s room in your life for all of yourself. And you let her in.
Enjoy being the age you are, whatever it is! Enjoy it for the learning and the living. Just know that even better days are coming. Because they are. I’m ready to comfortably settle in to this new decade of life, love and confidence. It’s exhilarating, refreshing, and completely exciting. Plus, I get ten years to think up all the wonderful reasons why it’ll be so much better to be in our fifties. And at that point you will surely hear from me on this matter again. Until then, I’ll just be over here in my fabulously fierce forties. Fuck yes.