Why 40 is the New 20, At Least for Me

Why 40 is the New 20, At Least for Me

In my early 20s, I had the feeling I should know who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.

But I had trouble settling on a major in undergrad. I changed my mind a few times and ended up with a degree in English/Creative Writing. At the time, I knew I liked writing non-fiction narrative but I loved poetry.

I married young and went to grad school. If you asked me at age 22 what I wanted to be, I would have told you that I wanted to go overseas as a missionary, so I finished a degree in Intercultural Studies and Missions.

Except I never went overseas.

Instead, I spent my 20s supporting my husband’s career as a pastor, and, after working in what was more a job than a career, at age 30, I had my first daughter.

Through that decade of my 20s, I definitely enjoyed my life, and felt invigorated and inspired by my work (both 9-5 and after hours), but I never felt that I’d arrived or that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

But I did feel the pressure to know.

In my mind, I had a list of degrees I’d like to pursue, degrees that would lead to a career, possibilities. My mom is a nurse; I contemplated (and applied to) nursing school. I loved working with the people in my job at a non-profit, so I investigated MSW (Master of Social Work) programs.

I missed writing, so I considered pursuing an advanced degree in writing.

I dreamed of being a nurse, being a social worker or counselor, of writing.

Mostly I dreamed of motherhood.

Was that the answer? That becoming a parent would signal my arrival as an adult, my discovery of who I might be when I grew up?

I’m not sure.

But in my 30s, a decade that now seems to have passed in only moments, I lived the dream of being a full-time mother, welcoming three daughters into our family over the span of six years, completely immersed in motherhood, rarely leaving my daughters, even for an hour.

Those years, idyllic in some ways: walks on the beaches of Lake Michigan, barefoot in the sand, one baby or another in a sling against my chest; lazy hours snuggled on the couch with a stack of board books and a trio of little girls tucked in beside me; the girls and me, sitting in a circle on our playroom rug or around our dining table for lessons when we started homeschooling. And: endless laundry, and every day cleaning up the same messes. Longing for those quiet moments in the evening when the girls collapsed, finally, into bed.

In my 30s, enjoying my first daughter

Looking back, I see that I felt a little lost during those years.

Yesterday, after a busy and productive morning of working, I went out with my girls shopping.

Driving home, I had this sensation that I have arrived, finally, at who I am meant to be, what I am meant to do. It feels like landing on solid ground after a very long voyage or seeing the puzzle picture come together as you press in the final piece. It feels like struggling to get into shape through weeks of slogging through miles and then finding my legs and breaking into a sprint.

It’s completeness and certainty — the kind I felt pressured to discover in my 2os but proved elusive to me.

That it took 20 years to get here doesn’t seem important now, and any of the anxiety in the intervening years seems insignificant now, though it was intense and unsettling at the time.

When I look at my friends in their 20s, friends who seem lost at times and uncertain others, I want to tell them:

Be patient. It’s a journey. You’ll find your way. Enjoy where you are. Keep exploring. Be patient.

And when I look at my friends in their 50s or older, I can see that where they are is quite different from where I am now.

To them, I say:

Let me learn from you. Show me the way. I’m still on a journey. Remind me to be patient.

So, this decade of my 40s is the new 20s, at least for me.

Tell me something! What do you want to be when you grow up? Where are you on your journey? What do you dream of doing? Who do you dream of becoming?

Filed As:  learning, writing

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • So interesting. i’m two years off 40 also with 3 girls and feeling pretty comfortable with who i am although i’m not sure i feel i’ve ‘made it’. I wonder if its a feeling that comes with age, that sense of not sweating the small stuff.

  • Its any easy question, Becky, as I am asked at the time. I will never grow up. There is always so much more to explore, experience, see,do and give. And, oh so much more to learn. Life, like all the calls in and on our lives are ever-shifting, ever-unfolding, and we are ever-growing.

    I shall continue to become…

    Martina

  • Planning ,execution & successful implimentantion,,,BUT there is one thing destiny which give u very limited time & a very little room to switch ,,so there is no shortcut, hardwork pay u ,,so at the end whatever u achieve enjoy & be satisfied.

  • During my sophomore undergrad year, I got jazzed by an Industrial Psychology course. It was all about the human element within companies. I wanted to make it my career. A management professor talked me out of it.

    As a kid, I thought I was going to be a cameraman, working behind the scenes in the entertainment world.

    Decades later I became an executive coach.
    Decades later, as of this date, I’ve produced eight plays.

    You’ve got to listen to your heart. It knows.

  • I was praying over you this morning. That you would find peace and balance in life. I know this is a process. There is always a push and pull with kids. They want more, we need time for ourselves. The reflection is very nice. 40 seems far away for me but I know it will arrive in just a moment and I hope to have the same peace you shared. So thankful for you!

  • I’m not sure where I am in my journey, but I feel as if I’m at the beginning of a different path than I’ve been on in the past. I don’t know what this path looks like yet, but God is revealing it slowly. So, I’m trying to be patient and follow His lead. I do think I’m a better person at 43 than I was in my 20s & 30s, for various reasons.

    Blessings,
    Laura

  • Oh, I loved this. And really needed it today. Thank you!

  • Becky,
    Since we’re Twitter buds I want you to know that I appreciate your heartfelt honesty and candor. Vulnerability is tough for most but you have shared your soul. Thanks.

    I am hitting the big 5-0 in October and God has had me on a journey all my life; most of good memories started at 11 with Christ. Some of it has been very rough and heart-rending while most of it “I have been in the process of becoming”. As well, I have had amazing accomplishments and mountaintop experiences that few have ever attempted or experienced and I am amazed at His faithfulness!

    My heart is so full and so much to share!

    Someone once said that that it’s not about how far you have to go but how far you have truly come. I believe that. It’s my story too!

    As we tweet, you’ll see I have a lot to convey however the greatest thing is my “becoming” story. “Two road diverged in a yellow wood…” Blessings, John

  • If I ever figure it out I will let you know! The journey continues. I try and stay open to the infinite possibilities, while being at peace with where I am right now. Thanks for the great post.

    Cheers,

    David

  • Great post Becky. After 30 years being a leader in the construction industry, I am finally realizing my dream as a speaker, coach and trainer with the John Maxwell Team. Now I have the skills and collaboration of like-minded people to add value and positively influence those around me on a much larger scale. Thanks for your continued commitment to your dream which adds to ours.

  • Hi Becky,
    I found your site through our new friendship on the Wrecked Launch team.
    This post is awesome and I just need to tell you that my Monday post is saved and is titled “41 is my new 21”!
    I love this post and agree that I am way more excited about the next 40 years!
    Hope to connect more with you.
    Tammy Bolt Werthem

  • I am a bit farther in my journey in terms more of age of my children, but still learning every day. Everything in focus all in the same moment, is not an easy road- but very possible, “doable.” This was lovely and heartfelt, thank you.

  • I’m single, but I can relate. I’m in my late 30s. I began my first college courses at the ripe age of 16, intending to study journalism because I like writing. Enter my composition teacher. I learned that I don’t want anyone to censor my bias, so journalism was out. I liked math, so ended up with an electrical engineering degree. I worked for eight years in engineering, but as time progressed, I felt increasingly miserable. I quit to work with my parents’ businesses. Five years ago I decided to write a paper to talk to my church… something I’d planned to do since age 16, but then “some day” became “now” and the paper became a book. Now in my late thirties, I’m starting to understand (I think) what God seems to have been doing with all those “detours”.

    • Thanks, Annette. Not sure how you found this old post, but I appreciate your comment and hope you find great success with your book project.

      Becky

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