Thoughts You May Relate to if You Are Turning 40 This Year

Turning 40

Turning 40 years old:  milestone or just another day?

This weekend my nephew will be celebrating his 6th birthday in Australia with cake, presents, games and a party. Like all kids his age, he is approaching it with enthusiasm and excitement. After all, this is a milestone: he is a year older and this means he is growing up.

On the other side of the world, I’ll be approaching my own milestone in London. But unlike Jake, I’ve been approaching it with trepidation, denial and a little fear. After all, I’m turning forty: and this means I’m growing old.

Birthdays have never brought out the best in me.    

I spend the majority of the year making the most of what life throws at me, enjoying a work-life balance that gives me time to focus on the travel and photography adventures that make me feel alive. I am healthy, I’m supported by a great group of family and friends and I embrace the opportunities my life of freedom and independence creates.

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But I approach birthdays with a sense of insecurity and impending doom.

It’s irrational and a little ridiculous. And as this is the year I turn forty, it’s going to be worse than ever.

Or is it?

A few months ago, a friend asked me where I was planning on spending my birthday. My response was “in the land of denial” and I swiftly changed the conversation. But the inevitable is now only days away. Whilst I certainly don’t feel excited about turning forty, the annual panic that I’m one step closer to my grave and running out of time to do and experience everything I want in life, hasn’t yet surfaced.

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Is it because I’m celebrating my fortieth with a trip back to Antarctica at the end of the year?

Is it because I’ve seen friends turn forty and their world hasn’t ended?

Is it because life (apparently) begins at forty?

Is it because I’ll be celebrating my birthday on the weekend with close friends?

Is it because turning forty is really not a big deal?

Is it because I’ve finally found a work-life balance that lets me focus on the things that energise and make me happy?

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Or is it because the thought of turning forty is actually a lot worse than then event itself?

 

A friend recently reminded me “you are not a year older when you wake up on your birthday. You are only a day older. It’s not a big deal, get over it.” And he’s right.

Everyone reacts differently to turning forty. For many people, it’s a great excuse for a special treat, party or celebration. For some, it evokes moments of reflective over-thinking, destructive self-analysis or triggers a mid-life crisis from the panic that life as a middle-ager is only moments away. And for others, it holds no significance at all and is just another day.

But whether you are reacting to it with indifference or melodramatic denial, turning forty does get you thinking. And if you are turning 40 this year, you can probably relate to some of the thoughts, realisations and lessons that have been popping into my mind.

 

If you are turning forty this year:

 

1. You’ve been alive for more than 14,000 days, more than 350,000 hours and more than 21 million minutes. And you’ve been out of school longer than you’ve been in it.

2. You’re young enough to embrace technology but old enough to know how to survive without it.

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3. You find yourself scrolling down the screen to search for your age bracket on online forms.

4. You’ve learned that “friends are for a reason, season or lifetime” and all enrich your life in different ways at different times.

5. The best sex education you had as a teenager was reading Forever by Judy Blume.

6. You enjoy reuniting with lost friends on Facebook, but are secretly relieved it didn’t exist during your university party days.

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7. You remember your parents turning forty – but are sure they were a lot older that you are now.

8. You cringe when you hear yourself refer to the “youth of today” and sigh when you realise you are no longer one of them.

9. You thought you’d own a hover board and your own robot by now…

10. You thought modern technology had peaked when Return of the Jedi was released and couldn’t imagine anything more advanced.

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11. You shared your childhood Saturday mornings with the man who was “born from an egg on a mountain top” and his friends Sandy, Pigsy and Tripitaka. You also discovered your very own Monkey Magic stick around the same time your mother lost the kitchen broom…

12. You’ve learned the difference between Mr Wrong, Mr Right and Mr Right for Now.

13. You knew that a pencil was an essential addition to every cassette collection.

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14. You’re old enough to have made mistakes but young enough to correct them.

15. You’ve had to get out of your chair to change the TV channel, so you embraced the invention of the remote control that attached to the TV with a cord –  as the best invention EVER.

16. You’ve accepted it’s ok to stay in on a Saturday night – and even look forward to it.

17. Your hangovers last longer but you can still party with the best of them.

18. You’ve learned how to say sorry and how to forgive.

19. A Big Mac stays on your thighs longer than it did in your twenties.

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20. The invincibility you felt in your 20’s is replaced by an awareness and appreciation of your own mortality.

21. You know who Milli Vanilli were…and why it’s humiliating to admit that.

22. You’ve learned that “quality” beats “quantity” when it comes to friends, material possessions and life experiences. But not chocolate….

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23. You’ve held the family record for Frogger on the Atari and you know a Commodore 64 is not a car.

24. You’ve started to have moments of forgetfulness that are not caused by tequila.

25. You know how to get into – and out of – debt.

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26. You know how to change the ribbon on a typewriter and took typing lessons at school.

27. You know all the dance moves to Bananarama’s “Venus”.

28. You recorded your favourite songs as a child by holding your cassette recorder against the speaker on the radio or TV.

29. You’ve used a fax machine.

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30. You’ve read every book Enid Blyton wrote and had your own Secret Seven club.

31. You remember your Walkman becoming outdated because it didn’t have “auto reverse”.

32. You cried when Molly died on A Country Practice.

33. You remember when sending mail required paper, an envelope, a stamp and a visit to a post office.

34. You’ve dialled a phone number on a telephone that actually has a dial.

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35. You’ve learned that life is a collection of chapters, but like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books you read as a child, you can select and continually change your own theme.

36. You enjoy the high technology of today’s blockbuster movies, but still think it’s hard to beat Rocky, Goonies, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Breakfast Club, The Outsiders and of course…The Lost Boys!

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37. Your childhood crushes included at least one Cory/Corey and various members of the Brat Pack.

38. You’ve learned there is no better education than the one taught outside the classroom.

39. You wanted to live in the Little House on the Prairie and be friends with Laura Ingles Wilder.

40. You’ve learned that you can always replenish the bank account but you cannot reclaim time.

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And most importantly, you’ve spent more time with yourself than anyone else has over the past forty years. You’re comfortable in your own skin, you know who you are and you know what makes you happy. And you’ve finally learned that your own acceptable of your decisions in life is more important than anyone else’s.

How have you reacted to turning forty? And what would you add to this list?

 
 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

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