When I was in my early 20s, 40 seemed so old. Not grandma old, but definitely not young. I always thought 40-somethings must feel a little sad or wistful about their stage of life.
Little did I know that most of them felt just like I did inside my 20-something head — only better, wiser, and more confident. I had no way to know that most of them wouldn’t be 20 again if you paid them and that they actually liked being in their 40s.
Now I know. Next month, I’ll turn 42. And so far, I am loving this decade. I have some superficial complaints about aging (that Grand Canyon of a wrinkle between my eyebrows for one). But overall, entering my 40s has been like arriving at a personalized party organized just for me.
Seriously, the 40s are fabulous. Here are 15 reasons why:
1. You’re comfortable in your own skin.
You spend your 20s and 30s figuring yourself out, so by the time you get to your 40s, you know yourself really well. You’ve learned to accept — and even love — the things you cannot change. You’re still improving, of course, but you know who you are.
2. You don’t care what people think.
You wear what you want. You watch and listen to what you want. The social pressures of the young adult world have no effect on you whatsoever. You’re so over that noise.
3. People respect you more.
Even though you don’t care what people think, people actually do think more highly of you. Young people see you as a real grown-up, and older people see you as a respected peer.
4. Your kids are (most likely) past the most physically demanding stages.
There are plenty of exceptions, but most of us have babies in our 20s and 30s. By your 40s, your kids are old enough for you to have regained the freedom and energy you lost during the baby/toddler/preschool years. (P.S. It’s glorious.)
5. You have life experience and the perspective that comes with it.
By now, you’ve been through most of life’s major “things” — jobs, marriage, children, moving, losing a loved one, existential crises, and much more. You’re a seasoned adult, and it shows.
6. You understand things that used to confound you.
Things like insurance, loans, investments, and taxes used to be Greek to you. Now they still might be confusing, but at least you know the right questions to ask and the right people to help you figure it out.
7. You have significant work experience.
You might even have changed careers more than once. And with that experience comes wisdom and confidence in your abilities, as well as a solid resume.
8. You know what you like (and don’t like).
You don’t waste time with things you’ve already tried and didn’t care for. Even when your tastes change, you know right away and know to put your energy into what you care about.
9. You have more to offer in a conversation.
You have four decades of stories to tell by the time you’re 40. All that experience makes you a more interesting person to talk to.
10. You’re less intimidated because you know that everyone is always learning, even the experts.
You’ve learned and seen enough to understand that even the most studious and talented among us will only scratch the surface of the vast unfathomable pool of human knowledge. So when you meet a really smart person, you’re less intimated than you used to be.
11. You’ve finally figured out a good skin care regimen.
You’re battling wrinkles, but c’est la vie. At least you’ve outgrown acne for good. Finally.
12. You have friends all over.
You’ve likely moved a few times, and your friends have too. Now when you travel, you know someone almost everywhere you go.
13. Sex just keeps getting better.
You’ve been in this business long enough that you really know what works and what doesn’t, for both you and your partner. And you’re comfortable enough to communicate totally openly about such things.
14. You have skills.
Over the years, you’ve built up an impressive skills set in various areas, and are probably even passing your skills along to youngsters. It feels good to be good at things.
15. You’re old enough to be wise, and young enough to have energy.
You’re at the sweet spot of life where you feel like you have the best of all worlds. It’s awesome.
A lot of this is true for your 30s as well, but it just gets clearer as you move into your40s. I’ve heard the 50s get even better and have no fear about that next milestone.
We choose how we age, and it doesn’t have to be scary or depressing. If you’re fearing your 40s, don’t. They may just be the best years of your life…so far.