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Life According to Joanna: Forty & Fabulous

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‘Forty and fabulous?’ Or ‘Forty & fabulous!’ much like Carrie Bradshaw’s experience, the punctuation mark changes the tone massively and I’ve swung hard between the two over several months. What is it about turning forty that carries so much gravitas? Is it because most of us remember our parents turning forty? Or as a woman we know we are entering a stage of infertility, saggy faces, and menopause?

It’s my birthday in a matter of days and let me tell you there has been a LOT of reflection over this one. Milestone birthdays have a tendency to have us picking at our lives like an unwanted salad. Have I achieved what I wanted to? Am I where I imagined? What does the future look like? And forty feels like a big one. 

This ‘coming of age’ coupled with my newly single status saw me riddled with anxieties and societal pressures. Weather I want a baby or not, knowing that time is running out made me question everything. I don’t like time limits at the best of times. Please for the love of God, don’t give me a two-hour slot at a restaurant and I tend to have a full-blown panic attack during the Countdown Conundrum, let alone something as big as my ovaries. The ticking clock and the underlying thought that your body is on the verge of changing dramatically weighs heavy. 

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Colorful balloons in a party

We also know that over the age of forty our metabolism slows, the changes in hormones are vast, and the chat between friends becomes less about ghosting, or the school run and more about whether or not you are perimenopausal. It’s felt grim, dark, and quite frankly, with no partner or family or my own, made me feel like my future was bleak and that unnerved me to the core. I think it’s safe to say that last year I had a breakdown of sorts. My mental health was at an all-time low which brought on various health issues. The word disease literally means that your body is in dis-ease.

Then there is the career to factor in too. Will I be able to be in this industry in 20 years? Have I a good back up plan? The questions that morph at an age like this seem to be as expansive as the universe and every decision you make feel as though it can massively change your life. Literally living my best Gwyneth Paltrow fantasy in Sliding Doors, with a marginally better soundtrack. 

As women we fear so much; losing energy, our looks, our bodies, our minds and that fear was heightened by Miranda in ‘And Just Like That’. She went from an independent, powerful, strong (and sometimes cynical) woman to a hot mess. The transition in her character was frightening and only highlighted the anxieties around the aging process. 

However, as I began to emerge from the shadows, I saw things from a different perspective and there is much to be celebrated about this time in a woman’s life. We know ourselves more, we are more confident in our decisions, and we (mostly) know what we want in life. We don’t take shit… from anyone. We know what works with our bodies be it food, fashion, medicine, or sex. We aren’t afraid of our own company. As youngsters we used to want to fill our days with noise and now, we love the freedom that spending time on our own brings. Most of us women have loved, lost and grieved multiple times and are wise and knowledgeable with it. We know that perfection isn’t everything, but we also know that the power of self-talk and self-esteem can keep us light. Our friendships are deeper, more meaningful and while our wild nights become less, our cosy nights in feel sacred and indulgent… the list, when looking into it, was endless. And there are many older women in my life who cite that their forties were their most favourite decade, having never felt more sexy, alive and vibrant.  

After the big breakdown of 2021™ I began to make some serious changes to my life in order to regain some control. I up’d my therapy, I meditate twice a day, I rarely drink, I do hot yoga four times a week, I eat clean most of the time, I’ve thrown much more into my career while still keeping a work/life balance… yes, I’ve turned into that person. However, as a result I’ve never been happier, less anxious, or more content.  The worries that come with this age defining era began to dissipate.

Free public domain CC0 photo.

A wise woman once said, “when collagen leaves, confidence enters” and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. I’ve always been confident but there is something empowering about really knowing yourself at this age. On the whole, I’ve always enjoyed growing up. I’ve never been someone that’s clung onto my youth. I had a scream when I was young but the pounding insecurities, not knowing your boundaries or the state of your bank balance isn’t something I’d like to repeat. 

So, as my birthday approaches, I’m feeling a sense of calm over the whole affair. I’ve finally found my peace and that is something I’d never thought I would be able to sit here and say – ever. I’m at a time in my life where I know what to do in order to stay on a good trajectory. I’m happy with where I am at forty. Of course, I am not naïve enough to think that there won’t be many more bumps in the road but, while the future might have a massive question mark on it, I shall endeavour to live that life to the full. Exclamation point.

Author

  • Joanna can currently be found frequenting the shores of Brighton after a move from South London. After her glorious stint at the BRIT School, she hung up her theatrics in favour for a life in music publishing by day and writing by night. She balances her time between the seaside and the big smoke and when she’s not flapping about in the sea, you’ll find her on a dancefloor, cooking up a storm or stomping around the countryside for some much loved nature.

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