So, that’s it. If I’m not there yet, then I’m at least rapidly approaching middle age. I’m not really sure what I expected. I know I didn’t expect to feel older overnight. That would obviously be ridiculous. But maybe there’s something different about being forty than when I was still able to say I’m in my thirties. I’m definitely not one of those people who gets upset about getting older – that’s entirely inevitable – but a new number in the first column of your age makes you reflect. And frankly, I’m excited.
I could go on here about all the amazing changes I’ve experienced in the past months. I could talk for hours about my new business venture and how exciting it is to be making my own decisions and choose my own path. Or I could bore you to tears about the enjoyment I’m getting out of seeing my son turn from a boy to a teenager. I could tell you about how much I enjoy getting out for a good solid walk and that averaging 8’10” kilometres over an hour and a half means I’ve gotten a decent workout. And mindfulness. Don’t get me started on that. But I’m not going to talk about any of those things.
When you turn thirteen, these days you can get yourself an Instagram account. When you turn sixteen, you can get your learner’s permit. At eighteen you can legally drink alcohol and drive, although definitely not at the same time. At twenty-one you get a big key (do people still give those?) and you can really get started in life. At thirty I had an expectation of myself that I was an adult now and I should behave like that (it didn’t happen!). So now that I’m forty, what am I allowed to do that I couldn’t do before? There has to be something.
What’s expected of a forty year old? If you’d asked me that as a kid, I might have said that you’d be married with kids, have a house, less hair and what there is would be grey, maybe a dog and a sedan. The house would have a garden and you’d spend your weekends between tending the plants, mowing the lawns, ferrying the kids to sport and attending dinner parties that finish at ten o’clock. It’d be fair to say that it had turned out a little differently than I would have imagined all those years ago. But the thing is, I have no plans to do what’s expected. I’m going to do what’s right for me.
So, now that I’m forty, I think I’ve earned the right to tell people how I feel. If I love someone, tell them. If I’m not happy with someone’s actions, tell them that too. When I need something, I feel like I’ve earned the right to ask for that too. The thing is, with the wisdom of years, I’m probably more likely to choose the kind version of anything I’d say… or not say it at all unless it was appropriate. Damn.
I can also eat whenever I like and go to bed as late as I want to. Especially when I’m flying solo and my son is at his mum’s house. It’s great. If I can’t be bothered cooking, then it’s a YouFoodz meal, or on occasion, a bowl of cereal. And if I’m hungry at 9pm and want to go to bed at 1am, then I can. Well, I’m allowed to. I really can’t. It’s more likely I’ll eat at 5.30pm and be in bed by 9!
At this age I can also make decisions about what I do on weeknights and see whomever I like. If I want to go to a friend’s house and hang out and drink wine, then I can. If I want to go to the pub on a Wednesday, nobody is going to stop me. In fact there’s only two minor details to stop me from this. Most of my friends are tired after work and home with their families. And besides, if I go out, how on earth can I meet my 9pm bedtime?
Ok, so maybe turning forty isn’t all that exciting. There’s nothing new I can do. It’s all just
the same as before. But you know what? It’s great. Being forty, I feel so much more comfortable with my grey hair and salt ’n’ pepper beard. Being forty, I feel fantastic if I can hop into bed and read my book at 8.30. It doesn’t worry me that I find reality shows insulting, or that I sound dumb saying words like ‘salty’ and ‘lit’. In fact, it’s just another step on the journey I’ve been on for a while now. Being forty, I can confidently and happily say that it’s great being me. And I wouldn’t want to be anyone else, doing anything else, with any other people, at any other time. The moment is now. And that pleases me.