Deconstructing 40

Today is my last day as a 40-year-old woman. It’s the last day of what I had hoped would be an empowering and fabulous year of my life. But really, it’s just the last day of another year of my life. Nothing life-changing; nothing that will carry me through to the next year. It was, just a year.

I suppose that’s normal though. I mean, how many people actually have one fantastically amazing year after the next after the next? How many people really and truly have a life that’s more exciting than the average, run-of-the-mill life?

Yep. For me, 40 was just average; just life. Or, at least, it’s not the amazing year I’d dreamt of when I entered my 40s last February.

When I began my 40s, I had high hopes that I would meet someone new to spend my life with. Instead, I found that dating at 40 is just as rubbish as it was in my post-widowhood 30s.

I had great dreams of being the most productive and fabulous PhD student. Instead, I found that being a fabulous PhD student is difficult because doing a PhD is damn hard work.

And I had over-reaching ambitions of being blissfully happy. Instead, I found that no matter how many times you tell yourself that you’re “40 and fabulous”, life is just life and you can’t force happiness.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad and I’d be silly to think it was.

I met new people, spent time with dear friends, and travelled home to America to see my family.

I ran several races (including two with PB times!), completed the first year of my PhD, and even gave a public talk at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

So no, 40 wasn’t like the Hollywood movies. But then, reality never is. I did find some happiness throughout the year though and I created some memories to take with me into my future.

And that future? Well, it starts now. No, I mean now. No, wait… I guess my future is only ever a second away.

Tomorrow starts 41. And maybe it will be the year of new love, fabulous PhDing, and blissful happiness. But if it’s not, it will still be a year worth living.

[Photo note: That’s me in my pretty party dress on my 40th birthday. Copyright to my PhD supervisor, Hazel Hall.]

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