40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years: What It Feels Like To Turn 40
Much like a lot of people, there was a time when I viewed turning 40 or “being in your 40’s” as kinda old. It’s hard to comprehend how so much time can pass that you’ve reached this stage in your life. However, now that I’m here I don’t necessarily feel that way at all. Sometimes when I look back I will feel the overwhelming sense that I’ve lived a lot of life, but I don’t always feel so old and broken down. As a matter of fact, while I will acknowledge that I have slowed down a tad, I still feel very good physically and mentally. If you’re 10-20 years younger than me and you’re reading this piece, I have one thing to say: Turning 40 isn’t really that bad! Let me tell you why that is!
You’re Older And Wiser
I think we all would like to go back in time and fix the things we don’t like about our past. However, there is something to be said about letting the past be what it was, but taking the wisdom you’ve gained along the way in order to help yourself and others in the future. I love this part of getting older. This is one of the reasons I feel so empowered to write blogs like this one. Don’t dwell on hopping in that mental time machine in order to fix the past. The best thing you can do for yourself is learn from your mistakes and work on making the present and future better.
You’re More Likely To Know Who You Are
I’ve always felt like I was very “in touch” with myself. However, any sense of self I might have had twenty years ago doesn’t compare to how I feel today. In particular, my thirties were the best years for me in that regard. Through all of the changes that occurred, I really grew as a person and got to know who I really am as a person. Now more than ever, I know what my values and morals are. Although sometimes the reality of who I am compared to who others are is an incredibly depressing realization, I am very thankful for the person I’ve turned out to be overall.
Relationships Get Better With Age
Don’t get the wrong impression, cupid can have bad aim at any time in your life. However, I know from personal experience that you are more likely to find the qualities you value most in others more often as you get older. I’m certainly not naive enough to believe that everybody becomes divinely mature once they get into their 30’s, but I do think relationships become easier to navigate. Especially since everybody has had their fair share of ups and downs by that point. Just a little bit of wisdom helps most of us to find that common ground by the time we reach a certain point in life.
You Gain A Better Perspective
One very valuable attribute I’ve developed over the past few years is being able to put the more negative aspects of your past into the proper perspective. Whether you blame yourself for something you shouldn’t or you blame yourself for a silly mistake you made, I can tell you firsthand that it becomes easier to put these things into their proper place as you get older. That doesn’t necessarily mean I sweep things under the rug. It more about understanding why some things happen. In some ways, you have to just accept certain outcomes for what they are. Sometimes things work out the way they do for a reason. Sometimes we don’t even see why certain situations worked out the way they did until later on. Sometimes we just don’t have control and have to draw our own conclusions based on the facts we have. That’s life!
You Have Tons Of Memories To Reflect On
Although I can’t claim to remember quite as much as I used to, I can still recall quite a bit. When you’ve only lived about 25-30 years of life, the memories you carry with your seem fresher and more familiar. I’m certainly not ancient, but looking back over forty years is quite a mental journey. Although life is pretty short, that is a lot of time to flip through in your head. I’ve actually found it to be a little overwhelming to put in that perspective. I can’t imagine how I might feel in another 10-20 years!
Your Health Becomes Very Important
Much like a lot of young people, I didn’t place a lot of importance on my health during my twenties. Most of us take those years for granted because functioning mentally and physically is pretty easy. However, by the time you get into your thirties, things start to change a little bit. You can’t always get away with not going to the doctor when you’re sick. Some illnesses can’t simply be overcome with rest. It also gets harder to keep your weight down as well. At this point, although I am not the poster boy for diet and exercise, I am much more cognizant of the fact that I need to take care of myself in that regard. Especially with a family history of heart disease. Personally, taking better care of myself started a few years before I turned forty.
The Best Of Both Worlds
By the time you reach 40, you are old enough to have a significant amount of wisdom in your mind, but still young enough to live life to the fullest. Sure, I won’t lie, I take more naps than I did 10-20 years ago. Although I believe I am in the best shape of my life, I certainly don’t always feel that way. My knees and joints often remind me that I’m not as young as I used to be. However, I’m not so broken down that I can’t do all of the things I love. I also have the wisdom to go forth and do things the right way. It’s not perfection, but it is a good spot to be in. I think being 40 means that you are pretty well rounded as a person.
You Feel Much Bolder
One aspect of aging that I really enjoy is the fact that I feel so familiar with the world we live in. This can also get to be pretty frustrating too. Through your experiences you start to learn things about yourself that you may not like. Whether you get treated the same way by people or notice patterns in others, you will start to see it all as you get older. I think there comes a point when you decide enough is enough. I’ve had quite a few of those moments in recent years. I have chosen to become a little more proactive in expressing how I feel in certain situations. Sometimes the best thing to do is to speak up rather than being so nice. Sure, we all want to be as cordial and peaceful as possible, but I also don’t believe in being a pushover either. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say or do what is necessary in order to get things steered in the right direction.
Appearances Become Less Important
Don’t let the headline fool you. Taking care of yourself and doing the best you can to look and feel great is important. That should be valued by all of us. However, the outside attractiveness of a person doesn’t always mean they will be just as attractive on in the inside. I don’t judge people as superficially as I might have in the past. I’ve met a lot of pretty people who were terrible people, but have met some less attractive people who were awesome. I’ve learned to see past a lot of that as I’ve gotten older. Seeing people through this type of lens will help you to see life and people much more clearly. Looks are important, but they certainly aren’t everything.
People Will Always Surprise You
You will have moments where you’ll feel like you’ve seen it all. However, I have also found that there is always something new to be seen or experienced. It may become less this way as you get older, but there is always room for surprises. It works both ways too. Sometimes you will see the best in humanity and other times you will see the worst. The awesome company you got a dream job at may contain some of the worst people you’ve ever met while the upstart company with no reputation might have some of the best. Always expect the unexpected and keep your expectations at a reasonable level.
Some Things Never Change
Moving away from home was the best thing for me as a person, but I have to admit that I still see some of the same ugliness in my other surroundings as I did back home. In general, people have changed a lot, but they also haven’t. Although the perspective of our society has changed, a lot of the things that make up our culture haven’t. Many of the same trends that existed 40 years ago are still in existence today. It is safe to say that people have evolved, but they haven’t necessarily changed. It’s very similar to how I view myself. I have evolved quite a bit, but I am still the same person I was at the core. People evolve and they are much more intelligent and informed today, but they haven’t necessarily changed.
What Does It All Mean?
Turning 40 isn’t a dramatic event for me. It’s a milestone I want to celebrate, but it isn’t necessarily changing my life. I think the most impactful thing about turning 40 is the fact that I don’t have quite as much time as I used to. Obviously I am aware that I have plenty of life left to live as long as I stay healthy. However, the more “youthful” years of my life are starting to fade. I do feel a sense of urgency as far as accomplishing my goals. I still have some book/novel ideas that I want to complete. I’d like to expand my family beyond me and my wife. I want to see some more of the world (especially the baseball stadium tour my wife haven’t finished yet). There is still a lot left for me to do, see, and accomplish. More than anything, that is how turning 40 and getting older in general impacts me. It’s not all about how I feel or the mental anguish of watching my youth slip away. It’s making sure I make enough time to do all of the things I haven’t yet done in my life. As a person I feel like I have a lot. This much I have expressed in this piece. The one thing I don’t have as much of is time.
Want to read more pieces from my “40 For 40” series? Then check out some of these pieces: