So I recently turned forty. Yup, the big 4-0. But I’m not cueing the death march just yet. I’ve not procured myself a burial plot or finalised my will. Life actually seems like it’s about to start for me. It’s the beginning, not the end. And that excites me.
When you’re in your 20’s and younger, 40 seems ancient. Our parents were probably in their 40s then. The next generation. But now it feels different. Perspective and all. Turning 40 seems different than being 39 for me. Maybe it’s because I have big plans for my future or maybe it’s a feeling of being grateful for what I do have now. Whatever the reason, I have a newfound respect for where I’m at in life and I’m embracing it.
A New Perspective
I’m not where I thought I would be at this age. Who really is? We grow up with wild fantasies of what we want our lives to be like when we grow up, but do we really work at it? And if we do, do we end up sacrificing the living in the now to achieve the elusive goal of the future?
Do we adjust our sails when our dream goals change or do we just stick to the same path despite how unhappy it makes us, because of that shangri la life we envisioned when we were too young to know any better? When things don’t turn out how we planned, do we crumble, get angry, think about all the life we wasted, or do we seek a better tomorrow?
I find myself taking on a new perspective on life at this age. My mantra this year is “F*ck it, I’m forty”. I’m brushing away the things that hold me back or keep me in fear of moving forward. I’m standing by my convictions and not letting what others do upset or deter me from my goals. I’m learning to let go of not being perfect or caring what others think. I’m in a place where I know who I am and what I want. This is my liberation. And this is just the beginning.
What are You Waiting for?
You don’t need to wait until you’re forty, fifty or eighty to experience your breakthrough. Whatever age you’re at, can be your turning point. You just need to know what you want, make plans to make it happen and don’t let anyone steer you from your goals. It’s time to take action in our lives. Instead of waiting for things to happen to us, we need to take steps to make them happen for us.
Age is just a number after all. Just a reminder of how precious life is. Not a scorecard to compare with others or an indicator of what you’re “supposed” to do or how to live. We’re not here to live up to others’ expectations or to conform to society’s stereotypes. Ageing is not a disease or an affliction. It’s whatever we make of it.
The Beauty in Age
With age comes wisdom and experience. You’ve been you’re own guinea pig your whole life without realising it, conducting experiments, taking risks, finding out what you like, dislike, want, don’t want. You’ve hopefully learnt how to deal with other people and have a boatload of friends and connections to show for it.
You’ve dealt with your own personal tragedies, joys, setbacks and milestones and have learnt or grown from the experiences. Each has made you, uniquely who you are today. You’ve navigated your world on your personal journey towards happiness and fulfilment and if your brain is still in good working order, then there should still be more to come. Embrace life and live it full till the end because, [* spoiler alert*] we’re not leaving here alive.
There are people in their 80s and 90s doing things that most of us can’t. At the age of 94, Florida resident Edith Traina could powerlift 140lbs despite having lung disease. She started training at 91. Her goal is to powerlift 200lbs by her 100th birthday. At 80, Ernestine Shepherd is the world’s oldest female bodybuilder. She started going to the gym and training at 56 and started competing at 71.
What about Jeannie Reimen, the oldest female race-car driver to compete at age 90, Edith Murphy who was the oldest female waterskier also at 90, Johanna Quaas who’s the world’s oldest gymnast at 86, and Sally Hille, who at 94 is the world’s oldest professional DJ? And who could ignore the effervescent Iris Apfel (featured) – business woman, interior designer and fashion icon at the youthful age of 95? These women put me to shame.
Instead of relenting to the customary sedentary lifestyle of which society expects from the elderly – and of women – these extraordinary ladies have gone out there and defied the rules and achieved incredible feats. So what’s your excuse again?
How much more inspiration will it take for us to stop feeling inadequate, lacking, inferior and unsatisfied and to do something more with our lives. How many of you have resigned to ‘this is just how life is I guess’, ‘this is just who I am’, ‘I can’t do any of those things’, or just resigned to giving up and relenting. Isn’t life – this precious gift, not worth fighting for?
We need to stop letting our failures, shortcomings, anxieties, our past or our age dictate how we are supposed to be or who we’re supposed to be in our future. Every day is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and become the person you were born to be.
Let’s not waste anymore time wondering what if or why me or why not me. Let’s not complain about lack of time or what we don’t have but instead appreciate the time we do have and what we can achieve. Life is short and it’s only getting shorter. Time is too valuable to waste on things or people that don’t fit with us anymore.
We need to do a life declutter and focus on what’s really important and the people who are really important in our lives and let the rest fall to the wayside. We need to reevaluate our goals and make sure we’re on the right path to them. We need to appreciate how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved in order to believe what we’re capable of and what we’re worthy of. What will your legacy be?
There’s no time like the present. We don’t need a New Year to resolute. We don’t need the stars to be aligned in any particular order. Start now and make changes. Let’s not look back ten years from now with feelings of regret or apathy. Let’s live a life of enthusiasm and excitement at what it holds and the possibilities it reveals. Because f*ck it, life begins the moment we step up and take the reins.