“The Trouble Is, You Think You Have Time…..”
If I look back on my life it’s like a series of chapters, determined by the decades and the things that happened in which years they fell. Someone of eighty would probably read this and say “you sound like you have been around for ages girl, you still have half a life left yet!”. This, of course, is very true (well, here’s hoping!). But, as you approach your mid-way point (I still have two years left, I’m going to hang on to these thirty-something years like you wouldn’t believe) you start to look back, then forward and realise with startling clarity that you may not have as many years ahead of you then you have clocked behind.
As a woman, something else happens to you as you approach the start of your middle years. Well, this is what has been happening to me over the past eighteen months, not sure if I can speak for every female on the planet but this is my take:
Let’s start on the negatives first (as always, I WILL turn them into positives):
You Become Semi Invisible To The Opposite Sex
Of course, when you are in a strong, trusting and fulfilling relationship this doesn’t matter. But, this blog is about honesty and if we are honest here I reckon most women would say they do enjoy a fleeting glance from a male stranger or a quick innocent smile from the guy in the plumbing van who pulls up next to you in traffic on the school run.
I once watched a documentary where some 60 and 70-year-old (and quite frankly, gorgeous!) celebrity ladies talked about becoming invisible. They feel like when they walk down the street that no one sees the youthful pretty girl with that swing in her step anymore, they don’t see the woman at all because she faded into other people, as part of the grey background of everyday life.
When you hit your mid-way point you become semi-invisible. An example: you are walking down the street with your twenty-five-year-old female friends and you may get a polite eyeball but let’s face it, those other girls are far more interesting to look at. I hope this isn’t sounding egotistical because that is so far from the point of this paragraph. The point is, you don’t get noticed as much and the truth is, you don’t actually give a damn. You feel happy and confident in your own skin, so does it really matter that you need to seek validation from the opposite sex to tell you anything that you don’t already know about yourself?
My gorgeous girlfriends and me (they really are smoking hot thirty and forty-somethings!) recently went out to dinner, as we walked into the restaurant making our grand entrance, a group of men all turned around to watch us. These lovely guys were all past seventy-five years old. One of them gave us a massive smile and said “look at you ladies, if I was twenty years younger I tell you!”, as the men all chuckled and we laughed back, it did cross my mind that he meant thirty years surely? Anyway, I for one certainly banked those compliments and it made my night.
You Look Older
There is no easy way of saying this. You look in the mirror and you see you are getting older. Not old yet, in fact far from it, just older. Your eyes and hands are such a giveaway. I wake up, look in the mirror and realise that my pillow creases match the same shape as the lines on my face. The dark patches under my eyes make me look like I’ve been partying all night (I haven’t) and the bloodshot funny-coloured eyes could be an alarming first sign of jaundice surely?
Good make-up is a must here, also hair-dye, sharp tweezers and a scarf. All is not lost.
You Feel Older
The old saying goes that when you hit your fortieth birthday you start to develop a mystery ailment each week of your life. Well, turns out they were right and as it happens it has started early for me. Involuntary noises when bending are compulsory, joints clicking at every opportunity, suddenly your tummy can’t take what it used too, you’re eating habits change, your bad cholesterol level goes up, you feel fecking knackered by 8pm and your idea of a good Friday night is staying in and defrosting the freezer. Ok, this may be a slight exaggeration but you catch my drift here…..
And the positives? You start looking at your physical body as the temple of godliness that it actually is. I mean it, if you don’t start investing in proper good health by the time you are forty then god help your luck. I for one will not chance to go into old age with digestion problems, bad joints, pain and low mood with cup loads of negativity. This time for me is all about my physical insurance policy, a lifestyle that promises me some healthy golden years. I pray it works. I pray for us all.
Feeling The Age Gap – For The First Time
When the younger ones in your workplace could be old enough to by your kid that’s when you know you are ageing. When that said younger colleague doesn’t know who Cindy Crawford is (was?) and has never watched Dirty Dancing, has never lived life without an electronic device in their hand and is more of an Instagram person than Facebook….you feel the generation gap. You become that person who says “you mean you have never watched the final episode of The Young One’s?”….stop talking right there because they ceased following you at “you mean you have never….”.
See I was born in 1980, my counterparts and I are smack in the middle of the Generation X’ers and the Millennials. I actually love this. It means I remember life before smartphones and the internet but at the same time, I still know how to connect a wireless printer to my iMac.
But what it also means is that I have to develop a huge amount of patience for the Millennial that wants it all done yesterday and with a cherry on top, god love them. They also teach me that you can certainly go out there and grab your dreams by the balls. At the same time, I can hold down a rather delightful conversation with my late forty-something friends about how Dr Who used to scare the crap out of us and when The Great Storm hit Blighty in 1987.
Yes! See I didn’t know this when I was in my twenties and struggling with confidence issues. I generally thought that you are born confident. Turns out that you are not and self-esteem, inner confidence and self-assurance come with your life experiences and age. Now here’s the thing, it helps bucket loads if you push yourself out of the old comfort zone, the more you do that, the more all those good things listed above begin to grow and life starts to feel pretty damn good.
Talking of comfort zones. I see this happening to (myself) and others around me when they approach their halfway life point. The comfort zone comes into play big style here and it goes either way: you either stay firmly in it and the habit of running away from anything remotely risky. If that’s where you have enjoyed being for so long, that’s where you will damn well stay.
For others, something quite extraordinary happens. The individual realises that it’s now or never. Those dreams are not going to manifest themselves (well perhaps with a good vision board but I digress) – the comfort zone gets truly outed. The person generally has a mini breakdown (often coined the mid-life crisis) and in some form or another rises from the ashes braver, calmer and ready to take on the world.
Statistics say that your forties should be the peak of your career, the most money you will earn in your career (if you have one) and if you don’t have one, it should be the time when you evaluate your life, what you are doing, how you feel and what you want. Time isn’t on your side like it was in your twenties. I implore you, if there is a burning desire to do something, start it now, if anything, just start it and see where that journey takes you.
More “I don’t give a sh@t”
I leave the best one until last. At this age you are fully aware that you are getting older, you can see that by looking at the neighbour’s kid that you thought was about four years old and it turns out they just got their provisional drivers license. You look at your parents and understand acutely that your time is limited now with them, that they are struggling in ways in which you will one day find out too. You look at your child and realise that as they grow into this wonderful human being, that you grow too, feel changed in a way that you never expected and start understanding the advice that was given to you by (in my case, women) who are around 15 years older than me.
I suddenly don’t care about offending anyone by saying no. I would rather spend my time with quality relationships than just going out for the sake of it.
I am happy to embrace a new stage in my life, I would rather be older than younger, having to get on the property ladder, having to start my career all over again, the beauty is I still have time to do that now if I want too (in fact, I already did).
The best thing is I don’t get anxious as much anymore either, because I can’t remember what I was worried about, my memory is starting to fail – happy days!
Until next time,