Let me start off by saying that I am in no shape or form an expert in being 40. Most of the time I have no clue what I’m doing. So, by all means, please feel free to share your experience as a 40+ year old in the comment section below.

I am currently 41 going on 42 and I can safely say that I’m having the time of my life so far. There seems to be a bit of truth to that expression: “You’re twenty with twenty years of experience”. You feel like you are finally ready to take on the world, newly acquired reading glasses and multi-vitamins in hand.

Let me tell you about my journey to my “Fabulous” 40’s and all of the hurdles and bumps I met along the way. Your experience may be completely different but I’m hoping you find some resonation in my story.

Island Girl's Guide to your Fabulous 40's

Midlife Crisis

I went into what I like to call my first midlife crisis just a few months before I turned the big Four O. It could have also been a slight panic attack for all I know. I felt unprepared for that big number.

I was suddenly a “ma’am” and no longer a “miss”. It made me realize that the world now sees me as an adult, an older adult and yet inside I still feel young and vibrant.

While in full on crisis mode I did everything I could to make myself look younger, feel younger and even act younger. Looking back, my behavior was much like a rebelling teenager throwing a tantrum. I cut off my hair, got three more tattoos and closed my business for good. Here I was, about to turn 40 and I had nothing to show for. My very own house: unchecked. A super career: unchecked. Wild travel adventures: unchecked. I felt unaccomplished and empty.

Yet another realization hit me when it dawned on me that I was living my life according to everyone else’s expectations. Society, my parents, my husband, my friends. I was doing exactly what was expected of me instead of what I really wanted to do.

So there I was, 39 and a half, feeling scared of getting older, feeling like my life was closer to the end, mortality staring me in the face and feeling like I haven’t accomplished much. Yet, I was happy with my newly found inner freedom. Confused much?

The struggle is real

My husband once asked me where the carefree girl is that he met all those years ago when we started dating. The one who laughed at everything and had no worries in the world. My answer may shock you but I told him with a straight face: “You helped kill her”. Yes, I know, that was a tad harsh and I admit I may have been a bit dramatic but it was more like murder in the third degree anyway. He did have a hand in changing me, but he wasn’t alone and  It is definitely not fair to blame him or anyone else. I was there too and I allowed him to mold me into someone I’m not, however pure his intentions at the time may have been. I was too afraid to disappoint him and others, and to speak up for what I wanted and needed. I now know that he was not trying to change me but help me. What he didn’t know is that I was too afraid of disappointing him whenever he made suggestions that I slowly  but surely lost myself for a while.

Reintroducing Riselle 2.0 was not easy and it took several major arguments, hissy fits, slamming doors and one major car crash for my husband (and I) to finally accept and embrace this truer version of me. I thank him for the patience he showed me during all those months of self discovery.

The carefree girl of yonder years is finally making a comeback, at least she is starting to, and that is great news.

island girl's guide to you 40's

Valuable lessons 

With all big changes in life come sacrifices. It is impossible to change without hurting someone or leaving someone behind. There were friendships that have outlived their purpose, a marriage that needed a major overhaul and a career life that needed a new direction.

The word “NO” is such a powerful word and I came to learn that it’s ok to use it now and then. I started sharing my own opinions more often, I was suddenly more outspoken, more honest. My focus was redirected to me; my emotional growth, my wishes, my dreams.

The main character in the story that is your life is no other than YOU.

Some thought I became selfish, others called me uncaring. It’s amazing how those closest to you react when you suddenly start focusing on you and putting your needs before theirs. For the record, I am not selfish. At least I don’t think I am. What I am is braver, more mature, more accepting, more in tune and definitely more confident.

Does life begin at 40?

I think it does. I have uncovered that your 40’s is when you truly become you. Not the new you but the you that you always were supposed to be. The you before people, experiences, heartbreaks and disillusions molded into an unrecognizable version. To be honest, realizing that and overcoming it is just exhilarating.

Being in your 40’s is fabulous and I don’t mean in a Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City kind of Fabulous. I refocused my life, my dreams and my hopes. Instead of staying in a business that was no longer fulfilling, I closed it down. I stopped listening to everyone’s criticisms or at least taking them to heart. I stopped letting negative people into my life. I stopped comparing my life to that of others.

When my 40th birthday came around I decided to I celebrate it alone, with an early morning walk on the beach. Friends were furious that I didn’t have a big party, and I didn’t really care what they thought. I stopped caring about material stuff, while things like inner peace, family, minimalism, respect for others and living in harmony became more important.

So what if I haven’t purchased a house yet or don’t have a big fat bank account, a dazzling career or a slim figure for that matter? At least I’m doing what I love. Yes, my life right now resembles that of a hungry artist, and a big pot of cash will certainly come in very handy for all the traveling and self discovery journeys I want to take, but I feel that I have already accomplished quite a lot. Life will continue to throw curve balls and I will continue to adjust and evolve into a truer version of me. I will feel lost, powerless and unloved at times but I know that those are the moments in which we as women soar like a beautiful phoenix out of her ashes. We are relentless beings.

And finally a poem for the beautiful women in their 40’s

Oh the blessed joy
That comes with this age
Still a fine looking book
Mild creases on each page

This is the age
When silver strands appear
You won’t always notice them
As your eyes aren’t as clear

It’s rather strange
When your belly starts to jiggle
This is one of those nuances
Which doesn’t make you giggle

Being this age
Can sort of make you sad
When you think of all the things
You could have done or had

And yet forty definitely has
Its good points too
So many opportunities
A million things left to do

You’re not quite over
That fateful hill yet
So keep living life to the fullest
Leaving no room for regrets

Written by,  Michelle Cook

Final words

So, you there, about to turn 40 and you, already in your 40’s, embrace it and hold on tight. We’re about to embark on a crazy journey. Before you know it we’ll be 50, so enjoy your 40’s now. Rebel, be wild, be free, speak up, be honest, travel, do yoga, party within reasons (or not), take care of your family without losing touch with your inner self, be a great wife without sacrificing who you are and above all else love YOU, embrace YOU, be proud of YOU.

I would love to hear your experience with your 40’s and those of you about to reach this milestone, what are your fears?

Remember to always stay true to yourself.

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