I like this quote by Carl G.Jung “ Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research”. This is definitely the age where you pretty much (almost?) have it figured out, only to have bits and bobs of your body start giving way. But we get it together, along with a new lease of life (sheer will?) we get with it, adapt and move on as the limerick below:
There was a once a young lady who turned forty
Who exclaimed ‘I am most naughty!’
She drank a bottle of vodka
On her very first trip to Osaka
And woke up next to a man most portly.
(okay that may have been crappy limerick example, but it is here, get over it)
This would be the balance twenty points of forty things that happen/sort of happen at forty.
- Bullshit Meter - oh boy, by forty the BS meter is working at optimum levels. You are good at sensing BS literally a mile away, and you are not afraid to call it out. For example - Kusuma says she needs to go home, as her grandmother is critically ill (said achchi has now died to an accumulative of 5 times) I called her out on this blatant lie and asked her to stop resurrecting the poor lady multiple times. Needless to say, grandma had a miraculous recovery the very next day.
- Sarcasm – this becomes so honed you can literally cut through iron like a warm knife through butter. Absolutely useful to put nosey people in their rightful place, or to subtly tell some one-off! Just the other day I was asked to wait ‘a minute’ at the blood lab whilst all three lab techs were having breakfast. Ended up waiting 15 minutes!! When the guy finally comes out I asked him when his birthday is, somewhat surprised he asks ‘Why?’ and I say, not too sweetly ‘ To get you a watch, as you seem to not know the difference between one minute and fifteen!’ Sometimes the sarcasm is so subtle intended victim does not get it.
- It is ok if it is not perfect - Yass!! You don’t sweat the small stuff (Most of the time…ok sometimes). It is what it is. Your in-laws are coming over for a visit and the house looks as if a hurricane, Tsunami, and Armageddon had happened? All cool, you chill until the last minute and then shove everything into the guestroom (lock said guestroom saying you are fostering a feral cat in there) and voila! House is neat. Also, order some stuff to eat via Uber eats.
- Kindness - God only knows that you can never ever be too kind. In this somewhat brutal world kindness is a light that shines and illuminates everything it touches. Kindness comes in all sorts of forms, words, actions and even thoughts. Words- comforting someone on a hard day, even if it is to add a white lie when after about of stress they ask, “Do you think my presentation was bad?” (Could be a business presentation or even the way they have presented themselves personally) and even if you thought it was the God awful, you bite your tongue and speak kindness. Actions – helping someone out when they did some dumb shit you asked them not to do, and you pick up the pieces even though you are thinking, “ OH, for crying out loud” and literally want to shake some sense into them. Thoughts- this will take much practice, I mean huge amounts…massive; just take it into the fifties.
- Work with the body you have - Sigh! This is sort of a natural culmination of years of fighting against the tide. So you realize it is what it is and get on with it. Have skinny calves? Wear pants and long skirts. Massive Boobs? Simple tops that don’t attract eyes up there (as if you need some frill across there, over the DD’s to get pervy men to look at your face whilst talking to you) Short? Wear heels. Have foot problems and can’t wear heels? Think tall and wear flats. Do you get the idea?
- Real friendships - this has something to do with the bullshit-O-Meter, which is pretty honed by now. So you just don’t need the extra angst in your life with drama and having to work hard to keep a persona. You value real friends and hold on to them. Gone are the years where you had a different crowd of friends for all sorts of activities/times, the aerobic group, the party group, the foodie group, the travel group, the posh mum group etc. now you find that less is more. So you have a few good friends and you have each other’s back, and you genuinely care about each other but don’t take any shit and call each other out when necessary. A good friend is one who supports you, a better friend is one who calls you out when necessary, and backs off when needed.
- Know your mind - confusion is somewhat less. You know what you want and aren’t afraid to go for it. Like, should you divorce your deadbeat husband who is uncaring and emotionally abusive? Do I really need that extra strand of pearls or should you save for a rainy day? (Just to clarify, everyone needs pearls…I mean EVERYONE) so you buy the pearls, and come a rainy day you can always sell the pearls, as it is an investment. So instead of cold cash lying in a bank somewhere, traded by greedy Donald Trump-like fingers, you get a warm strand of pearls so you feel like a million dollars! It’s a win-win.
- Style -You develop this and are pretty much settled with your own style. Whilst some develop an almost Audrey Hepburn like style, others are more Mrs Doubtfire, and some are even mutton dressed as lamb (found at birthday parties and weddings wearing all the makeup and jewellery that they can lay their hands on), as for myself…I call my style shabby-chic…in other words. Comfort above all else.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff - Chill is the new mantra. Shanthi, the daily, calls last minute and says she is not coming and you have invited friends over for lunch? Chillllll, you call in Uber eats and your forties friends are chill too. AC broken, and the repairers can’t come until next week and you are in the middle of a heatwave? Sleep in your undies…or in the nude…less stuff to launder. Someone who you thought was a good friend has been bad-mouthing you? Chill. Karma is a bitch and you make subtle efforts to make karma reach her even faster. And you lie in wait for that lovely moment.
- Slow down - Nothing makes you slow down than the swift passing of birthdays! You take the time to savour the flavour, smell the flowers, roam the unexplored tracks of life, at your own pace. What is the hurry anyway? You just get bad hips and knees for all that rushing around.
- Confidence - Your self-confidence is through the roof!! And might be somewhat misplaced at times. But heck, you go with it and stand by it.
- You make your own decisions - No one and I mean no one tells you what to do. You make your own decisions. No more does anyone make decisions on your behalf. If you fail, you make sure you fail spectacularly! If you got to go down, go down with fireworks. If you make it GLOAT! Subtlely though. Otherwise, it’s quite crass.
- Control on emotions - Nothing is as awful as a hysterical woman. The last thing you want is someone telling you to calm down, at which point you want to beat the living daylights out of them. No! you are much better at keeping a handle on anything until you get home. The bathroom is where you let it out, scream, cuss, ugly weep (you might need some loud music to drown out the noise you are making, maybe invest in a portable speaker for this purpose)
- Appreciate men without strings attached - you can look, not touch and still enjoy. Enjoy the good looks of Rob Lowe, Hugh Jackman, Ryan Gosling (Ryan chucked in for a friend), be amazed by the intelligence of…….(drawing a blank here) the fantastic conversations of………oh Forget it!
- Appreciate your own company - You are the best company you can keep. No one else is smarter, funnier and a better conversationalist (in your head) or as understanding as you are. You are your best friend. Treat yourself well.
- Finding the rainbow -There is good in every situation. Believe me! It is up to you to find it. And you do. No more does any situation seem like the be-all or the end-all. There is always a rainbow on a cloudy day. Take your blinkers off so you can see it.
- True article – there is only one you (this can seem to some a blessing or even a threat) the genuine article. And no one can do you, quite like you can. 100% baby!
- Forgiveness - You learn to forgive, more as a kindness to yourself than anything else (sometimes forgiveness is the best revenge). But, do not forget!! ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’ etc etc
- What others think of you is none of your business -This is a sub effect of the whole calmness vibe. What others think of you is not your problem. Just give them things to think about. This is also boosted due to your new self-confidence levels (sometimes referred to by husband as ‘Over Confidence’- but that is pish posh!). Also knowing your mind and not sweating the small stuff helps.
- Comfort trumps everything - This was proved absolutely true during the COVID 19 Lockdown, How many of you got out of one set of pyjamas into another set after a shower??? I know I did. I rest my case.
- Sleep - IS EVERYTHING
And in conclusion, enjoy every day. Try something new every day (no not the hunky guy at the gym) be true to yourself, be kind, and don’t let the haters get you down.