I NEEDN’T have feared turning 40.
A birthday I was once terrified of came this week – on Tuesday, the most common birthday in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics – and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
I’m also still enjoying myself as, while you’re reading this, I’ll be at a spa day with a friend.
The fact that my next birthday would be the big 40 hit me like a ton of bricks earlier this year. It felt like the end of something to me.
Probably like many people I’d spent my twenties and then my thirties kicking the can down the road when it came to certain things. I was going to get fit one day, there was plenty of time. I was also going to be more organised – one day.
Not really wanting more children, the vague proposition that it could still happen hung around me and provided comfort I didn’t know was there until it wasn’t any more.
My logical brain knows that lots of women have children in their 40s now but, probably because of the way women over 40 are talked about in wider society, my illogical brain constructed a barrier to this which would fall on September 26 never to be lifted again.
In my life before 40, or MLB40 for short, I was the world’s worst for putting off trips out and going to events with friends because maybe I had a slight cold or was tired and, hey, there was always plenty of time.
And then when faced with the prospect of turning 40 I felt like a large part of my life was over. Is THIS it? I wondered.
Now my “THIS”, my family, my home, my job are pretty amazing and I am grateful, but when the turningforty-fug descended I just couldn’t see that. Thankfully, after what felt like a period of mourning for what could have been but now never would be, the scales fell from my eyes.
Either by luck or judgement my thinking shifted. So instead of being sad that all of my “some days” and “one of these days” were gone, I started thinking that they’d finally arrived. It’s affected my family too. When we had a heatwave early this summer, instead of sitting back and thinking “if only we’d gone away but never mind we’ll do it some day”, we actually did it. We went to Tenby for the weekend and it was glorious.
I’ve wasted ridiculous amounts of money on gyms, fitness equipment and fads over the years and nothing stuck, leaving me moaning about my lack of fitness and weight gain and trotting out the old “some day I’ll deal with it” line.
But as “some day” is now here I joined a running club and haven’t really looked back. I’m hardly Paula Radcliffe but that’s not the point. Turning 40 actually made me realise I’d let my life go stale. I’d given in to fatigue and laziness too much. So now, unless there’s a very good reason not to, I do instead of dwelling. I used to think things weren’t for me but I’ve realised that unless I make them for me, I’ll never have them. So now if friends arrange a meal out I go, tired or not. If Pete’s home with us on a weekend, we do something instead of just talking about how tired we are.
If I see a show advertised and want to go – instead of putting barriers in the way like thinking I can’t go out because of Luke’s bedtime routine – I’ll book it and go.
If we want something for the house, now we have it.
There are always tons of reasons for not doing things and it’s easy to find them: expense, time, hassle, too much effort.
But none of us are getting any younger and no matter how much money we have or how much we avoid the inconvenience and hassle of exploring life outside our comfort zone, we’ll all die.
Except that doesn’t matter. We can’t do anything about it at all. So let’s turn our attention to something we can alter – our lives.
I know now that my “one days” and “some days” are today and I squander them at my peril.