Looking Forward to 40

Published on: April 13, 2022

Also celebrating her 40th birthday this year is our very own deputy editor, Liz. Here she shares her thoughts on reaching this milestone. 

The day I turned 39, there was a theme to the birthday messages I received.

“Last year of your thirties!”

“Ooh! The BIG one next year!”

“Only one more year to go! How do you feel?!”

Before that, I had never really felt that being 40 was going to be a big deal. Age is just a number, isn’t it? But since everyone seemed so concerned with how I felt about reaching this milestone, it made me think—should I be worried about hitting the ‘big four oh’ this year?

For so long, society has presented us with the idea that being 40 and above is something to fear. Messages on birthday cards joke about how old the person celebrating has just turned. And in many cultures we’re led to believe that once a woman turns 40, she is ‘past it’. Past it? Past what?! I’m willing to acknowledge that a woman’s body may not be in its prime condition to conceive and support a pregnancy after the age of 40, but this is certainly not impossible, and it’s definitely not the only thing that defines us as women. This perception, deeply rooted in patriarchy, negatively influences how we feel about ourselves and our role in society. 

So when it comes to feelings about what happens after 40, should we listen to a society influenced by this misperception? I think not! For some truthful insight into what lies ahead for me and the things I have to look forward to, I decided to listen to the voices of the real experts: women in their forties and beyond. Here’s what they had to say.

“I know myself better and trust my instincts more.”

During our younger years, we may have tended to make more decisions that we regretted later. But now we’re older, we’re able to make better, more informed choices. The key ingredients are time and experience. More time has given us more opportunity to gain experience. Whether that means experiencing many different things, or experiencing the same thing in many different ways, experience helps us learn what the consequence of a decision may be or how it may make us feel. Experience teaches us who we are and helps us determine what we want and do not want. This helps us to inform and trust our choices more.

This is also true for setting boundaries. Sometimes the hardest word for a woman to say is ‘no’. We grow up learning that we are the caregivers in society, so saying ‘no’—even when it doesn’t feel right to say yes–can be a challenge. But the longer we spend learning what we can and cannot handle or accept, the easier it is for us to listen to our instincts. When we start listening to our instincts, we feel more confident to let people know where our boundaries are. 

“I’m less afraid to fail.”

During our twenties and even our thirties, the idea of trying something new might have been scary. How would we look if we failed? What would people think of us? As we mature, these insecurities dissipate. By this point, we’ve been through trials and errors, successes and failures, and we’ve survived. Yes, we might have been judged by others, but those opinions and judgements also mean less to us now. We’ve come to realize that the only opinion that matters is our own. 

When failure happens–and it does because this is life–we know that it has potential to be one of our greatest teachers. Things will not always go to plan, but when that happens, we’re able to recognise it as an opportunity to review, rework, and learn. As a result of this new perspective, we’re less afraid to step out of our comfort zones and try new things. 

“I feel more comfortable in my own skin.”

Societal pressure can leave us feeling insecure about our bodies. The good news is that living with the same body for 40 years can help us acknowledge everything that our bodies have done and will do. We all differ when it comes to what our bodies can do, but one thing is true for all of us: our bodies are amazing. As we get older and deal with the physical changes that happen, we become less concerned with how our bodies compare to beauty standards, and more with how they function. This doesn’t mean that we are free from insecurities about our bodies. But we learn to prioritize what’s important, and that’s our health.

At the end of this year, I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday. I’m not afraid, and I’m not worried. I’m excited and looking forward to 40. Happy birthday to me! 

Photo from Canva.

About the Author

Liz is a mom-of-two from the UK. She has enjoyed three years of volunteering with BAMBI in various roles and is proud to be part of the BAMBI family.

The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects. BAMBI Magazine welcomes volunteer contributors to our magazine. Please contact editor@bambiweb.org.