Have you heard? 40 is the new 30. That is if at 30 you were starting to show those fine lines, your underarms were beginning to sag and yet your inner self was starting to be twice as strong as it was at 20. For most of us, turning 40 will be a dramatic difference from the past two decades of our lives.
Turning 40 carries the weight of “oh my God, I’m getting old.” We realize we are not, after all, invincible. The three glasses of wine we used to be able to drink now dwindles down to one. The eyesight we had so sharply now becomes dimmer (yikes…trying on those reading glasses in the drugstore is an exercise in humble). The body needs more work. The skin needs more powerful products (and possibly procedures?). The spirit starts to clamor for past passions and dreams. We realize this is our life. We better really start doing something about it.
Of course you’ve heard the stories “Once I turned 40, my rear headed south and didn’t stop.” “After 40, my energy just dropped.” “Getting old sucks.” All true. It happens. It doesn’t skip anyone. Some are more affected than others, but we all are affected. There is some solace in that fact. We are united in the aging process. It’s what we do about it that separates us.
Some let the downhill slide begin and never make an attempt to stop it. Some go a bit overboard and start heading to the docs for Botox well before hitting 35. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere, but it does take effort. If you are set on aging well, you need to work at it. It does not just happen.
Naturally your diet needs to be healthy. Of course you need to exercise (definitely start doing weight training if you haven’t). Your body has always needed this. Get yourself to a good dermatologist to assess a skincare program (washing your face with whatever’s in the shower just won’t cut it anymore). However, it’s what happens inside that makes the entire process so darn interesting.
You look in the mirror and see someone older, maybe a little tired with a bit less spark. However, upon closer inspection, you also see a full-grown woman with wisdom, clarity, sense of self and even confidence. It’s those inner changes that totally make up for the loss of girlish glow you might experience. While we still want to look youthful and attractive, we somehow know that giving up that rather naive look about our eyes for the deeper, slightly more crinkled look is absolutely worth it.
There are women who would probably say they’d give up the wisdom to have the youth back. But if they really thought about it, would they? Would they, if given the choice, want to make those same past mistakes again? Deal with those toxic people long ago cut out of our lives? Work in that awful dead-end job while trying to make something of ourselves? Deal with the diapers? Date out-of-work musicians and cocky guys who never did call? Worry about the rent? The roommates? The uncertainty?
If you really think about it, the youth factor is overrated. Sure, you can exist on three hours of sleep, eat what you like without worrying about sagging, not have the responsibilities of your current life. But, like in the old Twilight Zone episodes, the price may be too steep. Nothing is free.
These days turning 40 is completely different than when our mothers and grandmothers turned 40. We aren’t necessarily deemed matronly and doomed to skirts below the knee and sensible shoes. We can wear tight jeans, super high silly heels, body-hugging jackets and even hair extensions. We can look 30 (or maybe 35) as well as be smart, sexy, confident and self-powerful. If it’s done right, it’s done well. If it’s not, it’s just a sad clinging to a younger time. It’s finding that line between that works for you.
As a 40+ year old woman, I know it takes work to look and feel good. It takes more than some and less than others. As always, it’s a work in progress. I relish the work ahead. As a woman facing the same, be careful what you spout to others coming up the age ladder. We should sing the praises of becoming a more self-evolved woman and let them that face it later, dare I say, even look forward to the prospect?
K. Moehr is an author and marketing consultant. Her book, Top Sellers Tell, can be found at Amazon.com
Calling all 40 and Fabulous Women: Be a part of our next book project! Tell your story about turning 40 with your own personal interview.