Ageing is something that is often only talked about in hushed voices with a carefully chosen group of friends. People fear old age, and that’s completely normal, but counting 40 as old age is a really silly thing to do. I guess we can just blame Hollywood or fashion magazines for the unrealistic expectations we have when it comes to beauty and ageing, particularly for women, but they are not the only ones that demonize mature women. The media went crazy with the recent Caitlyn Jenner story, and some of the remarks related to age were just appalling.
Well, you know what, I’ve learned a lot from the older women in my life, and I hope I’ll be able to share some of the great advice and life lessons with the younger generations one day. Turning forty is nothing to fear. In fact, it has its own set of unique perks, and there are lots of important things a woman learns by the time she turns forty.
1. We have to learn to let people down gently
While it may be much less time consuming and irritating to just turn someone down with a few simple words and a cold stare, it’s usually not the best way to go about things. Whether it’s a guy at the club asking for your number, or a friend looking for a favour, you need to gracefully decline people in order to avoid conflict or feeling bad afterwards.
2. We know no one else can tell you how to live your life
Your parents, as well as every grandmother, aunt, cousin, sister, brother, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, and colleague will have something to say about how you should live your life. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to please anyone and just do the things that make you happy. It’s good to ask for some feedback, but it is ultimately your life and your opinion is the one that counts.
3. We will earn lots of respect and trust through the art of active listening
It can be difficult for people to keep quiet and let another person speak for a while, and even then a lot of us are just thinking about what we are going to say next instead of absorbing what the other person is trying to tell us. Active listening is a skill, and as a woman matures, she learns just how powerful of a tool, or even a weapon, it can be.
4. We do whatever it takes to feel sexy and confident
You may feel like the person you are is dictated by the way you look, and you may feel like you can’t change the cards that you have been dealt. However, it’s all about how you feel on the inside and your actions that can be used to define you, and you have the right to feel good in your own body.
There’s a lot you can do about aesthetic issues like having bags under your eyes, wrinkles or any other features that you don’t find too appealing. Exercise, aesthetic surgery and good cosmetics can make you feel sexy and confident, and it is incredibly important that you feel this way on a daily basis. But remember that you don’t need to change a thing about yourself, because you’re already beautiful.
5. We know that when we want something done right, we have to do it ourselves
Delegating your work is sometimes necessary, but it’s a bad idea to get used to relying on others for help. Not only are a lot of people a bit irresponsible, but you also get things done a lot quicker when you do them yourself without waiting on others and getting stressed about the whole situation.
6. We need only a couple of good girlfriends and a bottle of wine to get through tough times
Never keep things bottled up inside for too long – calling up a couple of friends, opening a bottle of wine and having a good long talk is one of the best ways to let go of frustrations and grudges. It is a form of mental cleansing that every woman should do at least once a week.
7. We have to calm ourselves down first, before trying to calm others down
You may think that you are being the rational and collected one who is waving a white flag and offering peace, but nine times out ten both parties in an argument are acting out without even noticing it. There always needs to be one side that is somewhat calm if you don’t want things to get out of hand, so it’s very important to take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down, before trying to talk another person down.
8. We find quality sleep to be the elixir of youth
Some say it’s the food we eat, others stress the benefits of exercise, and romantics point to love, but, while all these things are good for your physical and mental well-being, a full 8-9 hours of quality sleep every night will really do wonders for you. Sure, sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of sleep for an evening of good sex, but we should strive to get as much rest as we can during the week.
9. We understand that there’s a difference between having fun and wasting money
When you’re younger you simply throw money away in the name of fun and relaxation, not really caring about saving up. However, as any responsible mature woman who has dabbled in couponing will tell you, there is a way to spend less without sacrificing much in the way of comfort. Spending a Friday night at home and cooking your own dinner is perfectly fine, as a few quiet nights will allow you to save enough money to go on a vacation in a few months.
10. We know jealousy, envy and anger just drain our energy and ruin relationships
People can be quite bad at times, and it is good to keep your guard up or even get emotional every now and then. However, strong emotions can hijack your life and ruin relationships if you let them. Sure, we will all become jealous or angry at some point, but you need to be confident enough to keep your feelings under control. Having something lingering in the back of your mind doesn’t do you any good. You can get addicted to feeling sad or angry, but letting go is the best option.
11. We’ll drop a topic if someone isn’t nearly as enthusiastic about it as we are
Did you ever get the feeling that people weren’t that into a topic you were passionately raving on about for 30 minutes? Let’s be honest, I’ve been guilty of this many times myself, and a lot of people will let you ramble on for fear of offending you. The simple solution is to drop the conversation when you sense indifference, but this requires some of that active listening we mentioned before, i.e. allowing other people to chime in with their opinion. You’ll also have to pick up on the subtle, and not so subtle body language cues that are a clear indication that your friend is disinterested and bored.
12. We have life experience that trumps book smarts and theoretical skill
You’ll meet tons of vibrant young people who talk about life, love, philosophy and politics, but it’s easy to see that they parrot a few articles and the 2-3 books that they’ve read. And that’s if they care enough to do some research. You, on the other hand, have 20 or more years of firsthand experience with all manner of people and situations, which means that your opinions will have more weight, and that you can outperform ambitious, but inexperienced youngsters.
13. We get to have plenty of great sex
With all that life experience, financial freedom, confidence and sexiness, expect to have some great sex. While the old belief that women reach their sexual peak later in life has been challenged by recent studies, you can’t argue with the fact that at this point you are more in-tune with your body and a whole lot more experienced with romance. We know how to pick out the good ones when choosing a partner, and we know full-well how to make him or her happy.
14. We have learnt to get along with the people we work with
Every woman has her share of workplace stress, and a few stories about difficult co-workers that she likes to tell in order to vent a bit, but in the long run it’s best to develop a positive relationship with the people at work. Many business professionals have stressed the importance of team building activities, and even something as simple as a night at the bar with some of your colleagues can really help ease tension at work by building trust and empathy between you.
15. We hold ourselves accountable, which makes solving problems much easier
The moment you start acknowledging the fact that you are responsible for your own life choices, and that there isn’t always someone to blame for your misfortune, is the moment you begin to work harder on solving the problems that keep pulling you back. Giving up the notion that you are somehow owed something by those around you or society in general is the most liberating experience.
16. We have overcome adversity, and we know what we are truly capable off
We all think we’d do well in certain situations and fail miserably at others, but when faced with these situations a lot of people find that the opposite is truth – you might choke up while giving a speech that you have practiced for hours and hours, and on the other hand you might pull someone out of a car wreck and safe his or her life while others stand by paralyzed with shock.
You need a bit of adversity to help strengthen your character and let you find out things about yourself you didn’t know before. At forty, you’ve got plenty of adversity behind you, and you know yourself much better. To paraphrase an ancient general and master strategist: if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
17. We know our limits, and that actually makes us stronger
The feeling of invincibility you have as a teenager and young adult slowly goes away as you come face to face with some of the harsh realities of the world, but knowing exactly where your limits lie doesn’t clip your wings and make you abandon your dreams. In fact, this knowledge only helps you adapt and choose the best strategy when faced with a challenge.
18. We allow other people to have different opinions
Immature people tend to be very arrogant and think that their opinion is all that matters. Even in terms of fashion sense or taste in music, which are incredibly subjective, some people think that what they like is “the right way”, and will put everyone else down. Over the years, you learn to live and let live – cohabiting, going out and having fun with people with views and sensibilities fairly different from your own.
19. We know love can grow, blossom, and wither away, but you will find it again
When you’re younger love is this huge thing that makes you feel like no one’s ever felt before. However, all relationships go through several phases. The truth is that you can fall deeply in love with someone over several months, feel that your heart is so full that it could just burst, get so attached to them in the next couple of years that you can’t imagine life without them, and then just have that feeling slip away quietly, leaving you indifferent and lonely.
People can also turn out to be jerks, and outside factors may pull people apart. The good news is that we can find this feeling over and over with the right people, and it may even last a lifetime if you find someone who’ll work as hard on the relationship as you will.
20. We are able to provide for ourselves and those we love, and it gives us tons of confidence
One of the biggest problems with self-esteem in young people stems from the fact that they are overly-dependent on others. Their parents have a big say in how and what they do, their peers affect the way they dress and behave, and they are limited by a lack of funds and skills. A woman turning 40 is able to provide for herself and the people she loves, and this gives her the confidence to be herself, stand up for her beliefs, and challenge others when they step over the line. There is no feeling like having enough financial independence to call your own shots.
When all is said and done, life beyond forty presents an exciting new chapter in every woman’s life. Reaching a mature age is not viewed as something negative – at forty we still have plenty of time to enjoy ourselves, only now you know better and can make smarter decisions.