40 Things I Know at 40
(And bloody wish I’d known before)
In three days’ time, I will enter my fourth decade and hopefully, the wiser half (if not numerically then philosophically) of my life. While I don’t feel old, it does feel like I can more clearly reach out and touch the passage of time. My school days may feel an odyssey away and my 20s emotionally impenetrable, but there’s a sense of perspective which I suppose is the basis of the sagacity of age. I’d also say I’m nowhere near world weary but there are far fewer first rodeos. For sure, there’s still a huge part of me that feels there is still so much more to achieve; I’ve also come a long way.
No longer young. What a bloody relief. But as a parting gift to my youth, I wanted to share my 40 best learnings, because this much I now know.
Always Wear the Thing That Makes Your Heart Skip a Beat.
As a younger woman, pretty much every time I went out someone said something disparaging about what I was wearing. At Uni, I had whole friendships defined by laughing at my outfits. That’s ok, looking different will always rub some people up the wrong way and to be fair, I was pretty out there. But the alternative—if you’re made like me to express exuberance in clothes—is to disappear. Instead, throw sartorial caution to the wind, choose the leopard, slick the red lip and go forth and be fabulous. Or you know, become professionally chic as a pretty good revenge.
Judge a Partner by Their Actions Not by Their Words
Men (and indeed anyone) can say anything. What they mean is what they do. For a sentimental old romantic like me, this has been the work of my life to overcome, because I really really loved the validation that WE’RE IN LOVE romance offered up on a rosy red plate. But poetry is effervescent. Finding your esteem beyond the potentially empty utterances of others is a life gamechanger. Doesn’t mean the odd compliment goes amiss, but that cannot be the currency of your confidence (see more below).
Your Baby Comes as (S)He Is
Nature, nurture etc. Yes of course, abuse and neglect can have profound and deleterious consequences on a child’s development and future outcomes. But the essence of your child is not something you get to choose, no matter what some parenting books suggest. They come as they are, you cannot make them who you want them to be—unless of course you want to bully them into lifelong self-doubt. Everyone imagines polite, loving, kind children with a good sense of humour and a balanced demeanour. Probably best to focus on one of those, because it’s unlikely you’re getting them all 🤣. Boundaries, strong values (and these are of course entirely subjective) and as wide a window of tolerance as you can possibly conjure is all you can rely on. The rest was predestined, so stop sweating it. They are who they are.
Learn to Travel Carry-On Only
Even if you fly business, checking a bag in adds minimum 30 minutes to your airport release. If you want to travel in style, travel light and leave 85% of the things you aren’t going to wear at home. Collect beauty minis like trophies, only pack one additional pair of shoes (for me heels, just in case something sensational comes up) and try every outfit on before it makes it into the bag. Much easier in the summer months, but the carry-on rule has changed the way I travel.
Never Wax Your Own Bikini Line
The angles I have contorted my body into. This is the worst saving I’ve ever made.