How to Cope With Turning 40?

you're not over the hill, you're just getting started

turning 40

I am 39 and having what others may call a midlife crises. I am scared of what turning 40 will mean. How do I live with wrinkles, will men still flirt with me, do I still have a chance at new experiences? Any wisdom for me? Asked by Michelle – Sydney, Australia

When turning 40, its all parties and balloons and humorous cards about making it “over the hill”. After the party is over we are faced with the reality our youth is in the past and what is ahead of us is blurred. We have a lot of responsibility by this age and also have experienced loss and sadness. Some of us may feel like we are still in high school even though the mirror doesn’t reflect that image, however, just like in high school our hormones are moving around again and we feel self conscious about our looks and how the opposite sex sees us. Married or not, we all want to feel attractive and interesting. Is it all over, is this it, is this all there is? Those are big questions at 40 and we all must find the answers ourselves.

Read on to see what our lively group of 50+ panelists said about moving forward after turning 40.


louisePietrafesaIt is normal to have these fears (why do you think the cosmetics and plastic surgery industry is thriving?). Begin by accepting that as you age you will have these thoughts. The important thing to realize is your worry thoughts are harmless and do not need to determine your experience of life.

So, here’s what I think…. do you want to spend the next 40 years of your life with that internal critic running in the background? Probably not. So, focus instead on what you want in life. Sit down with a sheet of paper and think about the life you want to create. Take time to REALLY concentrate on what makes your life meaningful. Set your own goals and standards. Focus on achieving those because it will make you feel not only a sense of accomplishment but also good about YOU. In the long run our lives are judged by who we are, not what we look like.

Other tips: Only look at a magnifying mirror when you are plucking your eyebrows!

Men are attracted to women – period. Yes, men will flirt with you but because if you feel good about yourself (satisfied with your life and the direction it is going in) that reflects towards the outside…at any age. If you don’t think this is true go to a crowded shopping district and just look at the couples – fat with thin, balding with hot, etc.

Men are just as worried about their looks as we are so play up your assets and leave the rest alone.

It is my experience that how we feel inside reflects on our outside. Louise – 60 something


heleneTozierAn excellent question and a “normal” concern. Wish I could give a 5 word answer but it isn’t that easy. In my 40’s I had the same concerns, but when I hit my 50’s they were less of a concern and by the time I hit my 60’s I don’t worry about it at all as I feel truly liberated. Not having to “put on a face” that isn’t really me is much easier to do as we age. I feel much freer to be my true self and the quest for knowledge and new experiences is even stronger than when I was younger. While I LOVE my husband and would not trade him for the world (ok, well maybe Pierce Brosnan) I know if something were to happen to him I could go on. As a matter of fact I feel that it would open the possibilities in my life even more as I would not be compromising myself. I understand this lesson from observing other women in their 70’s and 80’s who had lost their husbands but exhibited and lived life to the fullest. Life is what you make of it and if you are open to life, life will reward you with adventure and awe. Helene – 60 something


Marge G.You can take comfort in knowing that most of us who passed through the fearful 40s had a crisis of some sort ourselves. But take heart, the 50s will be much more relaxing and you will enjoy life more than you ever expected. Unless you are a show biz personality, you’ll find you won’t worry so much about the wrinkles and the gravity changes your body insists on going through. And of course men will still flirt with you! In fact, it’s a great time to perfect that art! Many older women possess a magnetic maturity that is irresistible to men. And new experiences? If you don’t die or lock yourself in a closet for the rest of your life, the future is an open book of pages on which only you can write. Just pick up your pen and get started. If you need encouragement, look around and notice other women who are already in the decades ahead of you and look at what they are doing. When they look in the mirror, they see more than an image. They see the person they have become, battle scars and all. The world needs you and your experience to help it along. Don’t waste time agonizing about growing old–spend it instead on pedaling full speed ahead. Marge – 70 something


There is a lot of wisdom in the above words. Women who have gone before us are our eyes into the future. The future is a blank slate that is not written yet. What a powerful position we are in, as we are the pens to write our future. Get writing!