real life

'I’m about to turn 40. Here are 6 things I wish I’d known in my 30s.'

I am two months away from turning 40. One week before Christmas, the 18th of December 2021, I hit that truly significant milestone, the big four-zero. 

And even though I see ageing as a great privilege, I have to admit I haven’t been one of those women who embrace big birthdays with joy and excitement. 

I’ve come to terms with it now, but it has been a struggle. 

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I have struggled because I compared myself to others – their careers, their houses, their bodies, and their lives. 

I have struggled because I haven’t achieved all the things I imagined I would by this age and that’s been hard to accept. 

I have struggled because my life has changed so much in the last 10 years and it’s been difficult to adapt to all that change. 

And I have struggled because I am approaching middle age, which means I only have half my life left to do all the things I dream of doing.

Slowly though - with the help of my psychologist, my friends, a number of self-help books, and lots of self-exploration – I am comfortable with turning 40. 

In fact, I’ve recently realised that at age 39 and 10 months, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I think as I continue to grow up and grow older this happiness will grow too. 

So many of my worries and fears have finally melted away and I really like myself – even with the 'biggest bum of any grade 1 mum', as my son tells me. 

My only regret is that I didn’t accept myself and my life sooner, so recently I made a list of the things I know now that I wish I’d known in my thirties, and my sincerest wish is that these insights save other women some of the heartache I experienced over the last 10 years.  

1. Your body will change and that is okay.

Every single body changes, even if you don’t have children, but probably more if you do.

Bodies get older and things happen to them, this is okay. 

I love my body now, not because of what it looks like, but because of what it does. 

In fact, I’ve realised the most revolutionary act is to learn to love your body in a world that tells you to hate it - it is so very freeing. One of my daily mantras now is 'all bodies are good bodies' and it is true, they are. 

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2. There is enough time.

Obviously some things have timelines on them - something that can play on your mind in your 30s is fertility of course, and this is real - the science shows that it is harder to get pregnant as we get older. 

But, there is time to do the things you dream of doing - to try a new career, to travel, to start new hobbies, to make new friends. You don’t have to continue to do the things you’ve done simply because you’ve always done them.

I realised a couple of years ago that staying on a career path I didn’t like would not give me more time. 

I had to accept that even though I’d invested years in that path, it didn’t mean I should invest more years. 

There is enough time to make change, and the sooner you make that change, the more time you have living the life you want. 

3. You are not old (and you won’t be old in 10, 20, or even 30 years).

Perhaps if we lived in the Middle Ages, then your thirties would be old, but that’s not true anymore.

Companies that want us to buy things to make us feel and look younger have sold us a lie - they’ve told us we are old when we are not. 

You are not old; you have worth and you have time. 

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4. Relationships change, this is normal.

Friendships, marriages and family relationships naturally evolve and change as we get older for a myriad of reasons. 

If you have children, you find yourself spending more time with other people with children. As your parents get older, you take on more of a caring role. When our lives get busier, we can’t go out with friends as much, and the things we valued in our twenties aren’t the same as the things we value in our thirties. This is normal. Lives change, people change and so do relationships. 

5. Work on yourself. It’s painful, but it is worth it.

It took me until my late thirties to do some work on myself and my life. 

I finally really examined what was affecting me - I looked at past hurts and traumas, I faced the things I didn’t like about myself, I made changes, and I finally learned to set boundaries.

This is ever evolving, I’m not done yet, but I am on my way. It’s not easy to confront all this stuff, but it is totally worth it. 

6. Accept that life is hard.

Life is full of hard things. 

It is also full of wonderful, joyful, fun and painful things. But honestly, in my twenties, I expected if I did life 'right' (whatever that means) it would be easy. It’s not - there is illness, death, disappointment, accidents, and so many other difficulties.

Life is hard, but accepting this makes everything a lot easier. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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