What is it about becoming 40 that upsets so many women (and men?), including, if I may be honest, myself?
I don’t know why, but somehow it does feel as a turning point. Nothing happened at all – I didn’t really expect to turn into an old hag the day after my birthday – but still, it did something to me.
Maybe it’s because in our society we set ourselves a lot of goals in life. You expect to lead a happy life, a healthy life, a productive life, a loving life, in short, a perfect life. And somehow, into that perfect picture comes this idea of being ‘succesfull’ in everything you do. Of course succesfull can mean a lot of things (and I don’t think earning money has anything to do with it). But I do think we have the impression that we need to be succesfull in something before we turn 40. That age at which people stop calling you ‘young’ and at which women apparently need to start thinking about menopause…
But all these expectations leave us with a lot of stress. All those dreams and aspirations we had when we were 20. How many of those are left?
The surprising thing to me, is that many of the things I wanted to do when I was 20, I actually at some point ended up doing. My dreams haven’t changed that much. Oh sure, I wish I could go back in time from time to time to slap my 20-year old self in the face in an effort to save me from the stupidities I was about to undertake. But in essence, I more or less got to the point I imagined reaching at 40.
Admittedly, I do not have the kind of financial security I was aiming for (villa’s with huge swimming pools now spontaneously spring to mind). But all in all, I wanted to travel, and I did. I wanted a university degree, and I have one (well, actually two even). I wanted to be happily married, and I am. I wanted children, and I have the best daughter I could have wished for.
So actually, now that I am 40, what was I so nervous about?