It took me a while to get here: a place of doing what I want because I know it’s good for my soul and well-being. And the timing is not a coincidence, either: The feelings of FOMO and paying too much attention to what everyone else was doing faded into the background sometime around my 39th birthday, right as I segued into my 40s. And it’s been a freeing journey ever since.
My 40s have been a time in my life when I’m more aware of what means the most in life. That’s a gift we get with time. Mid-life means you’ve gone through some stuff. Four decades of experiences you can look back on isn’t something to sneeze at. I’ve gone through a divorce, raised babies, and now I’m wading through their teenage years.
When my kids got older and started pulling away, I rekindled some of my friendships and started reading hoards of books. Sure, I have lost some friends as I got older but realized it was okay because it was taking too much of my energy to hang onto them. I’ve gained some new ones. Today, my friendships are easy. We don’t see each other often, but when we do, it’s quality time that we all cherish.
Now my favorite thing to do on a Friday night is to stay at home, light a candle, and watch a romantic comedy. It’s become a ritual of sorts. It’s one of my favorite ways to wind down from a hectic week and start the weekend. I begin looking forward to it on Monday morning. It’s my peaceful place; it keeps me grounded and it makes me feel good.
When you reach your 40s, you already know your personal style. You know what hairstyle you like the best on yourself and which jeans make you feel fantastic. It’s the decade when we stop following the trends, wear what we love, and are (hopefully) more accepting and comfortable in our skin.
Of course, I’m not saying that your 40s are some magical decade when you have it all figured out. It’s not fun plucking chin hairs, getting hot flashes, and worrying about how you’re going to pay for college or getting someone to repair the roof. But it is a time when you really start to see in hindsight what makes you feel like a pile of dog crap and what makes you feel content and whole.
As such, I became so much better at detecting positive energy and knowing when an experience will better your life or make it more difficult. You have learned that crap happens in life and there are some things you can’t control no matter how hard you try. So, you stop trying.
And the best thing about your 40s is, these days women are calling bullsh*t on the idea they have “expired.” They are starting over with new careers, getting in the best shape of their lives, and taking on new hobbies. I feel more sexual in my forties than I ever have and I’m not shy about showing every angle of my body and asking for what I want because I know I count just as much as my partner does.
Your 40s are the years you realize you are the only one who is responsible for your life. You get to decide who has access to you. And there’s literally nothing better.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.