real life

"You will like yourself so much more." 4 life lessons you learn after turning 40.

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Turning 40 is a milestone for most people, and usually a great one.

I remember being 25 and thinking 40 was “so old”. Well, it might be older, but it’s also better.

In a world where women are less valued as they age, I discovered this is the only thing that matters:

You will like yourself so much more.

It’s because you know yourself better; and you look in the mirror and actively think about how you like the person you’ve become – and you even make peace with your flaws.

Life after 40 is a liberating, revealing experience. This is what I’ve learned about myself since I began my fifth decade.

1. It’s never too late to revamp your life completely.

There’s a myth that once you hit your 40s, your ‘life plan’ is set. But you can change the course for the better, if things aren’t going the direction you want.

I was a lawyer my whole adult life, but I really wanted to be a writer. I was scared, though, of changing everything I’ve ever known.

After turning 40, I finally had the confidence I was lacking for so many years; I knew I could do it. I got a job in Sydney, and took my son away from our settled life, in search of adventure.

As a single, working mum, navigating a new city for us, it should have been a lot harder. But the faith I had in myself as a writer and a parent got us through. I know I couldn’t have done it as smoothly before 40.

We’ve never looked back.

2. Fashion isn’t just a young person’s game.

In my 40s, I discovered the confidence to express myself through fashion. Maybe it comes with just not caring as much about what other people think.

As a lawyer, working in a fairly conservative field, my wardrobe reflected that (think Hillary Clinton pantsuits). And, if I’m totally honest, sending my son to a pretty conservative school, I never wanted to stand out as the “crazy mum” – even though I knew that’s what I was on the inside.

When I came to Sydney and began working in media, I learnt anything goes – especially at my workplace, where my boss saw animal-print and sparkle as basics. So I let my inner-Carrie Bradshaw shine, and felt more like myself than ever before.

Admittedly, my now 13 year old hasn’t embraced his mum’s new style so willingly, but one day he’ll also learn the liberty that comes with #yolo.

3. You’ll know which habits are here to stay, and which ones you can easily change.

I’ve made peace with most of my habits – thanks, 40, for making me care less about them – which is one of the things that happens when you start loving yourself more. You give yourself a break for not being perfect.

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I have an irresponsible penchant for pricey booze, and loathe cooking meals for my son every night which he’ll refuse to eat (he lives on noodles and chicken curry).

I indulge in fast fashion, and am a serial killer of pot plants, despite (somehow) managing to keep a child alive.

But my biggest vice is that I drink way too much coffee for the woman who’s the size of a small child – I’m 155cm.

After 40, I did notice my teeth had caught up with me, and were starting to show signs of my decades-long addiction.

I’d always had healthy teeth, so there was no way I was going to put up with clear evidence of my habit if I were to continue living my best life.

Without much fuss, I did something about it. Something easy, because I don’t have the time to worry. I’ve been using Colgate Optic White Renewal Toothpaste, an enamel-safe toothpaste which has hydrogen peroxide – the ingredient dentists use to remove surface stains on teeth.

All I do is brush twice daily, as I normally would. I swear, my teeth are brighter after a few weeks of using it – dare I say taking my teeth back 10 years. Better still, they match my inner 40s glow.

I deserve everything in my life to be a hard-working multitasker. Image: supplied.
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4. You'll learn that you'll feel similar on the inside - just a better version of yourself.

After turning 40, I feel just as silly, just as young – but have more faith in myself with wisdom, and bravery in a way I’ve never had before. I began choosing my battles more wisely, giving less thought to what others thought of me, and standing up for myself more vocally.

I felt like I finally owed it to myself to do that.

It’s one of the things I like the best about being in my 40s; the wisdom to make better choices, back my choices, and deal well with mistakes – that all gives you confidence to be yourself.

And after years of self-doubt and regret in my 20s and 30s, it’s a huge relief.

After turning 40, you have the confidence to stop wasting energy on people pleasing, and prioritise your inner peace.

It’s glorious. You’ll love it, and be so grateful for life after 40. It’s a privilege.

What are the best things you found about turning 40?

Feature image: Supplied.

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