May 1976. That’s my birthday. Yep. I am turning 40. A whole new decade, I’ve found my feet, I’m happy in my own skin. Life is good and a new decade isn’t going to phase me. Shall I tell you why?
Long gone are the uncertainties of my 20’s, you know the sort. The leaving of education and finding a career. Finding a life partner (if you’re lucky enough) though as it happens I found mine – we found each other – when I was 18. I moved almost 300 miles away from my family to live near him with no job and no money, that’s not something I would do now! It’s funny looking back at how carefree and careless I was. In my twenties we were married and had two of our children. Together we relocated hundreds of miles TWICE and moved a few more times too… I had a succession of jobs none of which I enjoyed much. We lost my dad. My twenties were a bit of an ordeal in some ways but I’m appreciative of them, they taught me some of the biggest lessons of life and to be a little less selfish.
Gone are the big life changes of my 30’s. We had our third child. We moved house, into our forever home. We built extensions, replaced two kitchens, have started a huge list of renovations and repairs. Two of my children have finished primary school and are fast approaching GCSE’s. There have been illnesses, post natal depression, hospital visits and experiences of a much wider life through and with friends… There have been holidays and celebrations and so much laughter. Boat trips and seaside days galore. We have watched our children grow into these kind, considerate, amazing people and we couldn’t be prouder of who they are. Even on the days that they are feeling argumentative because at least they have the will to be themselves.
During my 30’s I began to realise that I don’t need other’s approval to be happy. I don’t need the trappings of a material world (though like any ‘girl’ I do love a new pair of shoes and all that jazz… I just know I don’t necessarily need them). Happiness runs much deeper, it doesn’t dwell in material possessions but in the relationships we have and the world around us. I have learned that you really do get out what you put in to life. To be nice can be the hardest thing but it’s always worth trying. To forgive can be just as difficult though carrying the weight of unforgiveness is worse, make things right whenever you can, swallow your pride. And sometimes you just have to move on. Leave things behind. My 30’s have helped me find my feet, to know when to stand and when to walk though I rarely know where I’m walking to at the time. I’ve even learned how to say no. Maybe. Well, some of the time. And to appreciate the here and now, to enjoy the moment however small, to relish every step of the journey.
I am welcoming my 40’s quite happily, I have no particular plans choosing to live for the moment instead and simply work it out as I go – though that’s not to say I have no purpose, indeed I have that in spades. I would like to wander more, see new places and wonder. I’d like to always keep learning, to try new things, to keep creating. And most of all to always be able to appreciate the simplest things because honestly, they are the things that pulled me through some of the toughest times. I hope my life stays full of friends, love and laughter.
From where I stand 40 isn’t looking too bad.
P.S. if you fancy a second opinion, Sarah Millican wrote about why she loved turning 40 here and I have to say I agree with her summary. Entirely. Except maybe for Go West…