Midlife Musings – The Exhausted Forty Year Old

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

A woman in her forty, is being told by her friends that forty is the new twenty. But she is so tired. Tired of trying to look like she is twenty, tired of trying to have the energy of a twenty year old and tired of maintaining the hypocrisy that you might look like a twenty year old, but society will only acknowledge you if you act like a responsible forty year old.

She works harder than her younger peers at work. Technology is changing and she fears she will be obsolete, like the different versions of programs she tries to design. Everyone else is smarter and she has only seven hours before she needs to get home to her family.

She has to work harder at her fitness, because biology says that women lose muscle mass and important hormones, but she still has to look like a twenty year old. So she eats grass or just breathes in air or chugs flavoured water and pumps her way through all the cardio and fancy weight training that is the rage these days.

Her mother tells her she isn’t spending enough time with her daughter. She is constantly ridden with guilt over that. Because when she was a child, her mother was always there for her. Her mother didn’t have to be twenty in her forty.

There is another guilt of not being able to look after her ageing mother, who is now sixty. The woman is a forty who looks like a twenty, but can’t drop everything at the drop of a hat and travel to her remote home town and look after her mother, like she did when she was twenty.

She doesn’t know where her mind is at lately. She forgets things, her hands get sweaty and shaky and she feels her confidence waning. She didn’t know anything about depression or anxiety when she was twenty. There was no social media to remind her that she had a mind to mind. She did whatever she pleased. No one watched every step of hers like they did now. Now she has to work hard to maintain her sanity and peace of mind. She goes on walks, listens to podcasts, journals and tries to meditate. 

But there are only twenty four hours in a day. That is another challenging twenty that doesn’t seem to relent. If she needs to do everything twice as hard in her forties, how does she manage it all within the twenty four hours in a day? She doesn’t remember feeling so busy when she was in her twenties. She didn’t have a checklist or the concept of FOMO or all the pressures of social responsibility then.

Sometimes when she is doing the thing she loves most – just lying down and reading or writing, she wonders, is it really worth it? Why cant she just be forty? Why does she need to be twenty? Why can’t she look like forty and have people love and appreciate her still the same? Why can’t she feel like forty and have people acknowledge the hard work from her past and respect her still the same? Why can’t she live the slow life now when she has already hustled so much in her twenties? Isn’t that supposed to be the best part about growing older, that you can finally breathe?

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