Exactly 5 weeks ago I turned 44 years old (in French: quarante quatre ans). The birthday celebration was modest, surrounded by my loved-ones in the tiny island of Gili Meno, Indonesia where I passed my summer holiday (more story of this island later on).
Since my thirties I haven’t throwed birthday parties as I’d rather envisage quietly about the purpose of my existence on earth. If this sounds too serious, well in a brief summary let me put it this way:
Every decade of ages has different challenges to offer.
Since I am in the 4th decade of my life, I will share some thoughts about this. When I was a teen until my early 20s, women in their 40s seemed old to me. Now I am mid 40s myself, I don’t see myself as old, mature maybe but not old.
Every morning I see proof of the inevitable ageing; the grey hair. Up until now I haven’t dyed my hair. I find it rather interesting to see how my body changes. How the wrinkles under my eyes and around my mouth grow deeper by day no matter which beauty cream I use. And you know what? This doesn’t bother me.
For some getting old is scary because the society is fixed on the youth. Youth looking appearance is sought after. If I was to choose between back to younger me at my adolescence year with good physique but desperately looking for my own identity and craving for validation than my own version of today; my choice would be the latter. Cliché? Perhaps, but let me tell you something; at certain age you would get more at ease with yourself. You have found who you are. This makes interaction with others easier because you know what you want and what you don’t.
Aside from appearance, more intriguing is to experience the imminent physical decay. For example nowadays it takes me longer to recover from a heavy training session than it was – let’s say 4 years – ago. The question is not whether but when do I have to wear glasses? I have been to opticians twice these past two years. I wonder how I would deal with physical discomforts as the years go by.
People in the 40s become more aware of death as they statistically have bigger chances of losing their parents starting from this life phase. Part of them fear death. Last year I went from being somebody’s daughter into an orphan. My mother’s passing has made me more aware not of death but of life. I started to wanting to devour life as much as I could.
That is why I don’t experience my teen daughter growing up as an empty nest syndrome. Ok, on the surface she seems that she might not need me as much as she did three years ago. I love to see her transforming from a little girl to a young lady with her own opinions and dreams. It feels like guarding a butterfly who is going to be ready to fly away soon. When is soon? I don’t know. Meanwhile I will stay in the nest, keeping it warm.
While doing so I have more time to explore my spiritual and mental growth, my hobbies (cooking, taking pictures, blogging), maintaining friendships, learning, reading more books. And the most fun part doing others things I please. According to literature this is called midlife crisis but I disagree. This is what being 40s has to offer, plenty of time and opportunity to reflect and becoming a better and mature version of yourself.
Don’t be afraid of getting old or ageing or whatever we call it. It is a natural process one can’t divert, delay or stop. You will experience it like it or not. There are two choices: loathing it or embracing it. This is from 8 years ago but my strive stays the same namely growing old graciously.