How Being Over 40 Feels Like Being a Teen again
by Jo Macdonald
Standing in my kitchen the other night at 2am, I found myself laughing away as my teenage daughter and her best friend shared tales from the party they had just got home from. The stories were so familiar from my own teen years, the laughter and excitement reminded me of similar nights with my best friend from school and the crazy things we got up to – suffice to say that being at boarding school never got in the way of our fun, I just didn’t share all the stories with my mother.
And, watching them, I was immediately transported back to those days and the people that helped make those memories.
And then it hit me. At nearly 43 I feel surprisingly similar to my teenage self in many ways. More so than at any other time in the past 2 decades. Not the drunken nights and crazy parties, but that rollercoaster ride of feeling intensely brave and assured one minute, and then wondering what the hell you’re doing the next.
Admittedly I’m way happier with myself these days, and have no desire to waste hours seeking approval from others or daydreaming about Johnny Depp whisking me away as I did as a teen, but here is what is the same right now:
- Perimenopause has reintroduced the 'fun' of hormonal upheaval into my life – it’s like going through puberty again, but backwards, and once again I'm being challenged to set my boundaries and learn how to take care of myself
- hair is springing up where it never used to be before, creases and wrinkles are takng hold, spots appear for no apparent reason and I'm having to learn how to appreciate my new body and love this new way I look
- that 'I can change the world' feeling from the 80's and early 90's is back again, and I feel seriously mad at events in the world and want to march for everything with giant banners
- the desire to say 'f*** it' a lot to everything is increasingly strong...and so much fun! That rebellious teenager is now a fully grown rebellious woman.
- creative ideas flood my brain (although unlike my teens I sometimes forget them moments later!) and I want to do EVERYTHING... except for on the days when I really don't want to do anything at all!
- I have beautiful moments of pure clarity of who I am and what I’m here to do, of really knowing myself... followed by (brief but intense) moments of ‘who am I and what the hell am I doing?'
- the urge to dye my hair a crazy colour, go on a wild adventure, or live in a tiny Parisian apartment doing nothing but writing all day has resurfaced. Along with a heightened desire and committment to absolutely refuse to conform to any stereotype or expectations for my age.
And I’m okay with all of it - well okay, I'm not loving the sprouting hairs in wierd places! But, it feels as if my teenage self has something to teach me. That if I combine her carefree, wild side with everything I’ve learnt over the years, then that combination is going to lead me into my fifties with the best mindset and sense of fun and adventure possible. And that feels truly exciting.