Does life truly begin at 40 as the saying goes? Is 40 really the age of reinvention and fearlessly stepping into your authentic self?….Is it just another year added on, an uneventful continuance and transition from your 30’s?….Or is it, as Generation Z would probably imagine it, the dawn of the fallen arches, painful joints, glasses becoming a necessity, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times. What is it really like to reach your prime life? We asked two women who have recently celebrated turning the big 4-0 to share their experiences; in their own words. Here’s what they had to say…
I believe the adage “Life begins at 40” comes from the fact that around that age one would have experienced life and gone through its roughest, toughest, brightest moments. That results in a person actually becoming their true self, with an empathetic acceptance and understanding of themselves. As a woman, l personally have learned to accept and love myself, strengths and flaws without having to adjust to societal norms. It’s a becoming of sorts. One tends to wear their true skin without conforming to expectations. In a way the thought of mortality and realizing this is the one shot you have leads to a revolution of sorts. A freedom, an unburdening, a release and a thirst to live and fervently drink of this life.
Turning 40 is indeed something to look forward to because you get to enjoy the benefits of experience and having a circle one can rely on and share real life experiences with without judgement. Another highlight is being graced with the opportunity to see your dreams and hard work coming to fruition through working smarter and not harder because of the years of wisdom you now carry. My personal favourite highlight though for turning 40 is being able to be “eccentric”and not giving a damn. To be truly at peace with oneself.
As we all know, your mid-life is largely characterised by major life changes. And mine is no exception. One notable accomplishment I’m proud of is leaving a marriage that wasn’t serving me anymore and breaking away from living up to societal expectations and being willing to start again in business and proving and reaffirming my own brilliance, savviness and ability to do anything l set my mind to. Something that I may have not necessarily been able to do when I was younger.
I’ve noticed that I have picked up some healthy habits too. These include trusting my own voice before anyone else’s, becoming a critical thinker, knowing that just because something works for someone it’s not necessarily what works for me or grows me because we are different individuals on different paths. Life is no one size fits all. Our test papers are different, so one must do the best they can in their lane and with their giftings and personality type.
In retrospect, is there anything I would have done differently in my 30s to experience a more fulfilling life in my 40s? No. Okay maybe one or two (chuckles). Had I known earlier, I would have listened to my own voice more. I’ve grown to realise that not every voice should speak into your life. I would have critically judged the advice l received and analysed it to see if it connected with my authentic voice. I wish I had not been afraid of sharing life’s challenges with women who reflected who and what l wanted to become.
Nevertheless, because you can’t turn back the hands of time, what I carry with me now in order to keep moving foward are life lessons and not regrets. And the biggest life lesson I’ve learnt after turning 40 that I cherish so dearly is that you don’t have to be the perfect mum, wife, boss, entrepreneur. You need to be yourself and that is enough. The more you become yourself unapologetically the more you excel and shine.
And because the future is as bright as God’s faithfulness, I’m looking forward to travelling, experiencing great adventures, establishing a great empire that will become an inheritance for my children and becoming a safe place and dream grower for women who are becoming.
What I’d like to tell women who are a quarter to 40: You are enough, you are smart enough, you are worthy of love and respect. You deserve to be happy, truly. You can change your life at any point. It’s never a train smash. Whatever happened to you should not determine your end. You are the author dove, pen a wonderful, spellbinding life story that will inspire us all. Yes you. You can, you can.
I believe my life began long before 40. I became the General Manager for Sign It Signs in Botswana where I learnt a new culture and a new way of living as I was in a different territory. A year later I became a mother to my only son Muzuva who has been my sunshine every day.
Though 40 is the new 20, I am not sure I am really enjoying it (Laughs) I believe I am still 20 at heart. My only let down is physically I am not able to do what I used to do back then.
Nevertheless, even though I may be limited in my ability to achieve certain things physically, there are other notable accomplishments I’ve attained after 40 that I’m super proud of. Just to name a few, last year I won a Nobel Award in Malawi for my contribution in the Arts sector. I have also managed to secure land where we intend to build “Let Them Trust Village”, a cultural village that will significantly contribute to the nation’s cultural tourism sector and with this land I know I will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit many generations to come. I am also very proud of an Advertising Agency that I founded called Chido Advertising P/L where we have established a number of brands on the market and formulated successful nationwide campaigns. Lastly, I recently became a lead recruiter at BP Global Solutions and am so excited to begin this new journey.
Because life after 40 requires careful planning in order to enjoy it, I have picked up on a few habits that are helping me build a healthy and happy lifestyle. You can’t expect to be living the life of a young adult, binge movie watching, attending every party you’re invited to…. and think your body will be happy with it. (Laughs) With that in mind, I generally enjoy taking long walks, so I have started walking 5.5 kilometers a day for at least 5 days in a week. I have also changed my diet to become more plant based. I have three vegetarian days every week. I’m hoping that with my healthy habits and with further proper planning I will be able to retire at 55 and pass on as much knowledge as I can to the younger generation. I would really love to be remembered for meaningfully changing lives.
When all is said and done, the biggest thing I’ve learned after turning 40 is the importance of relationship building and maintenance of those relationships, be it in professional or personal circles. And the advice I’d like to leave for every woman nearing their 40s or those who are currently in their 40s: Be grateful for every small mercy that comes your way, Invest in your relationships, give anything you do a 120% and take time to expand your knowledge in every endeavor, and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes as they are only part of learning.
By: Tapiwa Mhlanga