by Kellie Whitehead
Up to just a few months ago, I literally never gave my age a thought. I have never been one of those women who dwelt on the number and truthfully have always judged those that do.
I honestly believe that every day we are here is a blessing and one that somebody else and their loved ones would have loved to have seen.
But then something happened. For the past couple of years, I’d been giddy on a wave of natural self-acceptance. Nothing had changed specifically, but it was almost as if a switch had flicked. After over 40 years of people-pleasing, issues with self-worth, boundaries, and more, I was my own woman. Almost like I’d grown into myself. I can say ‘no’ without thinking twice, ruminating and regretting. Professionally, it’s been a rollercoaster couple of years (understatement) but last year, in particular, saw me standing my ground, and finally, yes finally, standing up to others whose chaos, lack of awareness and questionable behaviour was grinding me down.
So forty plus, so good.
Except, this year, I haven’t felt ‘well’. I’m resilient, my brain and rationale are well oiled to rolling with the punches, dragging me back from any kind of self-pity or catastrophising to ‘what is the solution?’ But what happens when it’s your brain that’s affected? When the fog is sometimes unfathomable and all you think about when waking up is when you can climb back into bed? When your PMS is so bad it leads your brain to dark places, even though you know, in a few days, normal service will be restored. And there is no ‘rhyme or reason’ for it except, well, you are just getting older and your body is fighting back.
Aches, pains, peri/menopause, hormone imbalances, weight gain and more. This is NOT how my merry way into mid-life was meant to be - doesn’t my body know I have so much to do? That my newfound self has a new job too - My teenage/young adult children need me more than ever, and I need to get on with it.
It’s easy to talk about ‘ mid-life crisis’ and see where the term comes from. Somehow, turning 44 specifically has made me think about the realities of the future - pensions, ageism in my industry, and even ‘ how long have I got left?’ have hit me like a brick just as my body has decided to act its age. Thanks for that.
Of course, it’s a transitional age - no amount of toxic positivity can reclaim that until we all evolve to living an extra 30 years, and 40 plus makes me nothing but a nipper. It’s totally natural to start evaluating your life so far, and the beauty of social evolution means that women my age know that life, really could be just beginning. Getting ‘rid’ of the old and moving into the new is a transition, not a crisis. We can’t fight our biology, but we can certainly work with it. In my case, it’s going to be a full-time job on its own, but needs must and it’s my priority.
I owe it to my kids and family, my colleagues, and the people I hope to impact with my work. Mainly I owe it to myself. I haven’t come this far to only ‘come this far’ that’s for sure. I may have neglected myself for so many years for the benefit of others, but I’m not going to be any use to anyone asleep or unable to operate.
Besides, with my newfound self-awareness, and a brain fighting to create, innovate and do something ‘new’ for the greater good, I honestly think that the next couple of decades could be my most impactful yet. This is all dependent on a body and a nervous system that allows me to live it, and this must be my priority.
So here’s to embracing the natural, mid-life transition - no longer will we challenge it, but work through it - no to buying Porsches and dating teenagers, and yes to buying time - OUR time.