Friday, January 31, 2014

BEING FORTY AND PLUS



There was a time in my teens and  twenties when being forty seemed like being really old! I had this feeling that it was an age meant only for parents, professors, bosses, uncles and aunts. I was sure that I would  die before I was that “old”!! But strangely I am alive ( and kicking!) today and not feeling all that “old”!

In fact I would say that being forty and plus is a wonderful age to be!  For starters, you are not worried about things that bother you in your twenties- your looks, whether people like you, whether you are wearing the right clothes, saying the right things. You are at this stage where you are ready to tell the world ( and your inlaws) to get lost if it (they)  is ( are)  not willing to accept you for what you are. You know who you are and that is the most important thing. 

By the time we hit our forties, we know what are our strengths and weaknesses. We have had our share of success and failure – professionally and personally. We are clear about who our friends are and we no longer waste time cultivating relationships that we know for a fact have no future! 

As a woman, being forty plus has made me completely unselfconscious. I am very surprised when I think back to that  time in my twenties and thirties when I used to be terribly embarrassed to be seen using a toilet by someone male ( don’t ask me why. I suppose I wanted to convey the image of being someone who was devoid of bodily functions).I think at some level I consider myself “desexed” now . I have worked in all male environments/ teams and these days I find that it hardly bothers me that I might be the only woman somewhere. But people tell me that this feeling of having transcended gender might actually be dangerous because I might just think I am safe in some place while in reality I might be vulnerable as a woman to the same dangers.
I guess life has the ability to either build our confidence or smash it depending upon how we cope with what it deals out to us. A lot depends on the people around us and the support they offer. I have been very lucky in this regard that I have had a family that was supportive whenever I was down and this has helped me develop the confidence that I have now. 

But it is not just confidence that we develop in our forties. We also learn patience and tolerance which makes life easier for us. I have learnt to suffer fools gladly and pick my battles. There used to be a time when I would lash out at anyone for anything. But today I think if it is indeed important to waste my or energy on such a person? People tell me I have “mellowed” down. I would like to treat it as a fact and not like the compliment that it was meant to be.

The forties are also the stage in a woman’s life when she starts exploring possibilities that she had never thought of until then. It is actually the time that she starts thinking beyond home and kids. The number of women my age who come to the gym that I go to is a sure indication of this fact!  It tells us that we are willing to invest time and resources towards our good health and fitness. There are many women who switch careers in their forties, some women become entrepreneurs at this stage while others might do something that they had never had the opportunity to do when they were younger.  It is not just the time that many of us might have now in our hands. It is also the confidence that comes with having lived life for four decades and more. I want today to do  things that I never thought of when I was younger- I want to climb mountains, do paragliding, learn to dance the salsa and write a novel. My daughter is completely embarrassed when I talk about this ( "Dance the salsa! With whom" ? ) because I guess she is now at that stage in life when being forty is like being “old”. 

However it is not as if the forties are without their share of worries. We worry less about ourselves and more about our children. Will they make it is one question. We try to ensure that they do not make the same mistakes that we did. But it is not easy to get them to understand that. They  have to make their own mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them- but that folks is another story in this circle of life!

15 comments:

Dipankar Datta said...

Nice Meera,
...this from one who is usually in the company of women

Veena Sreekant said...

The midlife is actually an important time to spend time learning your essence and relish the process of completely being your self.
So, age gracefully, live your dreams and create your happiness !!!

Christopher said...

To use a cliche, age is a state of mind. It is also an excellent time to learn what one abandoned learning at a younger age. I find playing music now much more satisfying than it did in my teens because I am not bothered about how "correct" my chords are or how acceptable my music is. As a result, I enjoy my music much more now than I did earlier although I may not be playing that much better music!

In your usual style, you brought out the many aspects of a "liberating" age and I enjoyed reading it. Keep on writing Meera.

SG said...

You are not Forty Plus. You are 18 with 22 plus years experience.

U.V. Ajoykumar said...

Dear Meeraji, Your views are perfectly correct. It is at this age we are blessed with a balanced mind to meet the challenges, revenges and everything. Some of us even understand what is 'wisdom'. This clarity helps us as a tool to survive in this competitive world.

Meera Sundararajan said...

@Dipankar and Veena- welcome to my blog! Dipankar you are lucky man to spend your time around women. Veena, you are right- relishing happiness is something that we learn to do as we age.

@ SG that was a nice way to put it!!!

@ Christopher, age is certainly a state of mind. There are people in their twenties I know, who behave like they are forty and plus! And about your music, please do keep at it. I feels good to get those piece you send me :)

@ Ajoy welcome to the Chronicles. Wisdom, as you say helps a lot in making things clear and that is an important survival skill in this world

anilkurup said...

What was it, acknowledgment, thanks giving, appreciation, acceptance? Well in many ways the forties are a threshold.
Given a chance who would not want to do things allover again?

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Anil it was none of that. It was introspection and happiness about reaching a stage in life which can be described as a "threshold" towards freedom and creativity!

Jack said...

Meera,

Visiting your space after a long long time. Read two posts. On previous one, how I wish there are more persons like your father and you. Also need of the hour is for politicians who see beyond their selfish ways and work for building the country. You have brought out a lot of facts like our educations system and all. I hope and pray that situations changes for the better. On this one. as we grow our outlook definitely gets broadened. May be due to experience we go through. Our goals too change with age, like at this age we look forward to settling down of children. Well written. However please do take care of yourself as you do need to understand that even at this age you can be a target of some unstable character.

Take care

Purnima Prabhu-Kamath said...

This post is so insightful! Yes, I am one of them who thought (and still sometimes thinks) 40 is old. Not for others but when I think of being 40 myself. But then I see examples of women ike you, Preeti Shenoy, and many other who surround me and i think they are at the peak of their life.

I am 29, and have about roughly 11 more yrs to get there. sometimes i cannot wait to get there... thinking Iwill be more independent of hands on mommying! :)

There is always a lot of learning to do through your posts. this one was certainly one among them. You show the brighter side of things that I presume to be dark!

Write write and keep writing. it helps someone somewhere!

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Jack and Purnima thank you so much for coming back to this space. I was missing both of you! @ Purnima, you embarrass me :) and Uncle Jack your insightful comments always help !

sunil deepak said...

At almost 60, I find reasons to think about why 60 is better than 40! If I ever reach 80, probably I will find some way to justify why being 80 is better than being 60! :)

Meera Sundararajan said...

Oh Sunilji I would love to be 60 :) Seems like an age to enjoy life !!! But I am not sure I would like to be 80. Might be better to exit the world before that !!

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

I agree ... when I was young, the 30s seemed like "old" ... but now that I am there, I don't feel old !!

Of course, the body is not as strong as it used to be, and the things I face are very different ... but each decade brings its own learning experience !!

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

Will read your other posts as soon as I can !

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