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20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Katarina Milovanovic

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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