Pierre-Jules Renard, French author and member of the Académie Goncourt, once said: “We don’t understand life any better at 40 than at 20, but we know it and admit it.”
Yet, whichever way you look at it, turning 40 can either be seen as a death sentence or a moment of utter and complete clarity.
I was at the height of my career when I turned 40. I held a top job in New York City at the United Nations Secretariat, earned a massive salary and lived in Manhattan’s upper West-side with the likes of Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles and Project Runway’s Tim Gunn as neighbours.
But on the morning of my 40th birthday I sat in bed overrun with doubt and an overwhelming sense of fear about what lay ahead.
Even after my best friend, who is six months older than me, called to wish me and remind me that “now you don’t have to give a f**k about what other people think”, I just could not shake the feeling that there was more I should know about turning 40.
So, having survived the halfway-to-50 mark and with my 46th birthday coming up soon, I thought it fitting to impart a few words of advice to anyone getting ready to celebrate the big four-oh.
Here’s some advice I wish someone had given me about turning half of 80:
40 shades of gray
Your hair (above and below) will change colour. Dye it or accept it. It’s just the way it is.
Where’d they go?
Your circle of friends will get smaller and it’s usually because you are married, have kids who break stuff when they visit, or you always look like a bedraggled soccer mom or dad. The upside is that the ones who remain will likely be there for the whole journey.
You can dance like a white guy
You will realise that people actually don’t care as much as you thought they did during your 20s and 30s. Making a fool of yourself at parties and on club dance floors becomes a thing.
That junk in your trunk
Noshing is a thing and the consequences are too. Unlike in your 20s, your metabolism is slower so chugging that entire bag of Woollies prawn chips and chasing it with half a litre of soda is not a good idea. A moment on the lips means a lifetime on the hips.
These boots are made for walking
Remember those bad relationship or bad everything choices you made when you were in your devil-may-care years? Now you won’t have to worry because walking away from toxic relationships or saying no without guilt is almost a superpower in your 40s.
So, as you get ready to hit this important age, look back without regret and look forward to all the benefits that age brings – especially turning 40.