You Know You're Over 40 When…

You Set Up A Blog Called ‘You Know You’re Over 40 When…’


I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “How come it’s taken you so long to write this blog, Andrea? How come you didn’t start writing ‘You Know You’re Over 40 When…” when you were in your twenties?’.

I have no good answer, I’m afraid. Maybe it’s just taken me to be over 40 to understand what it’s really like to be over 40.

Or maybe it’s only now that I finally accept that I’m over 40. Now that I’m in my 42nd year. (Wait – I turn 42 this year. That makes this my 42nd year, right? Or does it make it my 41st? Math was never my strong point; mainly because I’m not American. Maths, I’m much better at. Though still not good enough to know if this is my 41st or 42nd year.)

Growing up, I often thought that it was ridiculous that women – and it was usually women  – lied about their age. Actually, I say ‘usually women’ but that should strictly be ‘usually famous women or women I’d been told about’. Because I was never aware of any women in my own life actually doing this. Probably because the only grown-up women in my life were my mum, my aunts and my teachers. The former, I knew the age of, as one does with family (unless you’re my friend Sarah’s flamboyant great aunt, who lied about her age so consistently throughout her life that not even her closest family – or she herself – knew how old she was). The latter, I of course didn’t know the age of, because, well, I was told that it’s rude to ask a lady how old she is. Plus it could land you in detention.

So throughout my life, I never lied about my age. Not even to get cigarettes. Mainly because I didn’t smoke.

No, I didn’t lie about my age – until I reached my late thirties. And then, I didn’t start lying, as such, but simply failing to reveal my age.

There were three main reasons for this, I’ve realised. Firstly: I simply didn’t – and still don’t – feel my age. I suspect this is true for nearly everyone (who doesn’t feel like an eight-year-old operating in an adult world sometimes? I mean, apart from actual eight-year-olds?). I’ve been stuck in a state of arrested development for a great part of my adult life so far – or as polite society might put it: I’m a late-starter. For example: despite being a Western, middle-class 42-year-old, I don’t have children, am unmarried, only just bought my first property, and don’t know how to drive. All of which will no doubt affect the nature of my witterings on this blog (the inability to drive possibly less so) and all of which probably give an insight into who I am, how I got here, and how I got here so late.

Secondly: In my thirties, I often got the “But you don’t look it!” response (these days, less so. But more of that another time). And while this made me secretly half-happy because I knew that it was meant to be a compliment, it also left me feeling secretly quite sad – because what it gave with one hand, it took away with the other. It was simultaneously complimenting me on something external while slapping down the reality of who I was inside. So while the external me was flattered, the inner me felt rather unloved. Or at least: unappreciated. When someone says that a woman ‘doesn’t look her age’, the implication is that this is a good thing, because she shouldn’t look her age. Because we don’t like our women to age.

And the third reason I was failing to reveal my age to people was because I did want them to think I was younger than I was. (Which I know must sound strange, given my second reason above – but women are complex creatures, right? For example: I am against anti-ageing skin products, but I do dye my grey hair. I like cats, but also dogs. And so on.) The reason I wanted people to assume this was simple: I’d started writing comedy.  Specifically: jokes and sketches for live shows, radio and TV. And contrary to what you might think, I can confirm that comedy writing isn’t dominated by men – it’s dominated by men who started doing it from a relatively young age. And so I thought there would be some stigma attached to launching a career in this in my late – as opposed to, say, early – thirties. So I kept schtum about my age, in case people dismissed me, or thought I was odd, because of it. After all, the only thing worse than a women who’s ageing is a woman who’s ageing, and odd.

And yet now, in my 41st/42nd year, I just don’t care so much. I don’t care so much about being over 40, and about what other people think of me. Or more accurately: what I fear they might think of me. I don’t want – or am unable (I suspect it’s a combination of both) – to hide my age.

But even more than not wanting or being able to hide it, I rather want to embrace it. And as I sit here – a glass of red on the go, ‘Kind Of Blue’ playing on the stereo* and my boyfriend sitting across from me playing computer games (he’s 13 years younger than me – and before you ask, yes, I do see that fact featuring in this blog) – I feel ready to embrace it. To celebrate it. Yes, goshdarnit, to blog about it.

Here I come, forties! Don’t try to get away from me! I can run faster than you! Actually, these days I can’t. Not with my stiff knees. But more about those later.

*Note to under-40s: A ‘stereo’ is a hifi unit. No, wait: a music system. You still say ‘music system’, right?

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29 thoughts on “You Set Up A Blog Called ‘You Know You’re Over 40 When…’

  1. Hi Andrea,

    Congrats and good luck with the new blog!

    You know you’re over 40 when… you create a blog instead of a Facebook Group. Nah, just kidding!

    I agree that many people look younger these days. I’m the same age as you. When I was in my teens and would hear of someone having a 40th, they seemed to look so old. Now that I’m that age, I see my friends and myself and I don’t think we look as old as 40somethings did when I was younger.

    Reaching 40 wasn’t a major milestone for me. I was more concerned with reaching 30. For a long time I claimed my age was (still) 29. A friend gave me a birthday card that said “29 and holding”. My younger sister became my older sister. She was mad. Eventually I had to give in and claimed my age to be twenty-ten, or twenty-twelve.

    Keep your chin up (so it looks like just the one),


  2. I hit 40 last year, and although it was a great excuse for a party, I didn’t feel at all traumatised at all. My 50 year old mate assures me that will change in 10 years time, but hey, the 40s are great for many of the reasons you’ve mentioned (especially as apparently people don’t think I’m my age too!).

    i think we are the generation that refuses to grow up. We like doing what we want to do, which seems to include ‘playing out’ with our friends as we did when we were kids. Even those of us that have kids don’t seem to take parenthood as seriously as our parents seemed to, more that the kids are just an extension of ourselves and have to fit in with our lives 😉

    41 is creeping up on me in just a couple of weeks – and considering my nan died a couple of days ago and was at the ripe old age of 95, I see that as proof that I haven’t even hit middle-age yet! i can still be considered as young 😀

    • Hi! Yes, you’re very right – generations are acting younger now than they ever did (’50 is the new 40′, ’40 is the new 30′, and so on)… which is partly why it creeps up on you (as it did me!) and then actually, hits you in (increasingly lined) the face. And absolutely: I’ve always thought that middle-age wasn’t until one was in one’s 50s & 60s… and I’ll still cling on to that ;).

  3. Victoria on said:

    Stooopid 40! Why can’t we be 29 forever? Hell, I’d even take 35 at this point. But 40? Urgh. I’m turning 41 in about a month and it’s more upsetting than turning 40.
    HOwever, having said all that, I don’t care *as much* about certain things. My boobs are looking like spanials ears (not Spainards ears as I use to say), my legs aren’t as good as they use to be and I’m sure I noticed some hair in my nose the other day. But it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I talk to myself in the supermarket and I smoke near playgrounds and I don’t really care what anyone says. I feel almost comfortable about it. So, if becoming comfortable with oneself is a sign of older age then it isn’t sooooo bad.

    Still tho, I’d rather be 29. We had some fun then right?!?

    Congrats on your homeownership (or rather, mortgage ownership). You’ve gone and grown up Ms Temp.

    • I feel your pain, Victoria ;). And also your lack of caring about stoopid things we used to care about. Which can surely only be a good thing, as you say (and is bound to be a recurring theme in this blog, I suspect!) I think I’d only like to be 29 again in the sense of being able to make different – better – choices. Well, that and so I can hang out with you again :). How we’ve both gone and grown-up, eh! xx

  4. I’m over 40 going on 6 years! So many people look at the big 3-0 as the one they dread. For me it was 25! No one has a real clue of life until 25 or 26. For some reason my 25th birthday was the hardest to swallow- maybe because I just got divorced. I tell people 30 is not the age to dread- it’s 25 it’s all down hill from there!

  5. I am in my 48th year 🙂 and for the last few years, I always seem to add a year to my age! Not on purpose, mind you. But after my birthday, I start thinking, “Next year I will be…” so that by the time a few months goes by, I’ve convinced myself I am already that age! It’s always a nice surprise when I realize, “Hey, I am only 47!” Whatever – it’s just a number…for example, I started running 5 years ago, and I couldn’t even do 1km when I was in my 20’s, I can now do 5k. Sometimes…if it’s not too hot… or too cold 🙂

  6. I added years to my age, too! In my mid-twenties, people assumed I was 8-10 years younger… and as a result, never took me seriously, because what does a “sixteen-year-old” know about life?!
    So when I corrected them, I’d say “I’m almost thirty!” when I was really only twenty-six.. because it sounded so grown-up and cool. 😉

    Of course, nowadays, people guess within 3-5 years of my age, and one well-meaning co-worker thought I was 5 years older (because I married an older man). 😛

    I still feel like that sixteen-year-old, though… still clueless about life, still waiting to be grown up and cool. I can’t wait to wear false teeth and diapers! 😀

  7. Darren Williams on said:

    I turned the big five-oh a couple weeks ago and am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m writing, I’m in love with my wife and I have a healthy family and a dog that thinks the world of me. I enjoy your blog and hope to read more from you.

  8. I was one of the lucky ones who people always said looked younger than my age. Of course at 15, I looked about 11, so it wasn’t fun in my younger years. lol
    But now that I’m past mid 40’s, it’s so hard keeping up with the facade. Part of me just wants to shout my age from the rooftops when I turn 50. But I can just imagine the shocked looks of my co-workers etc, that I just don’t know if I have the guts. I’m sure they guess within 5-8 years anyway. But then I think of the other women I work with, and I don’t know their age & don’t ask, so why should I let everyone know? It’s really no one’s business but my own. But the ‘you look good for your age’ crap can really get tired after awhile. You just want people to know & accept you for who you really are, not someone you are pretending to be. Plus, I’m grateful that I’m still alive & kicking.

    • Absolutely – to both still being alive and kicking, and just wanting to be known and accepted as you are. It’s been strangely liberating to set up this blog, to be completely open, instead of hiding slightly (as many women – and it’s mainly women, of course – get in the habit of doing).

  9. I turned 40 six days before you posted this. Looking forward to commiserating/celebrating with you!

  10. Really hilarious! You remind me of my parents, and I hope you take that as a compliment because it really is. Visit my blog, let me know what you think.

  11. I love that you wrote this blog on my (gulp) 41st birthday! I’m with you on this one!My last post was about my supposedly self-imploding ovaries 😦

  12. I was talking to my mother recently about a new family who had moved into her neighbourhood. She said ” They are a couple in their 40’s” and I was thinking to myself “oh yes, an older couple” when it hit me……I am in my 40’s and I certainly don’t consider myself to be old. Some significant readjusting of thinking has happened since then!

  13. Laughing out loud aka LOL 😉 Stereos, Albums, 45 records, dial up phones with long cords, NO REMOTES for anything! What a life we grew up in! Wait…. I need to dial up “time ” At the tone the time will be ….. 😉 😉 Thanks for bringing me back to the simpler times. 🙂

  14. I turned 40 a couple of weeks ago, but I think the process starts in your late 30s, you just don’t realise it. It starts seeping into you, a kind of “outside the 30s’ feeling. There are times when you feel all that you have experienced and learned bubbles to the surface and for a moment you are a true adult human being, but then it disappears and you go back to having thoughts like ‘shouldn’t I be acting like my parents by now?’. Thanks for your blog, very funny, and I think it will resonate with more than just us 40 somethings. Well done on being Freshly Pressed as well, especially so soon. Some of the hardcore bloggers will hate you for that, but only in a seething-grit the teeth-kind of way…

    • Thank you! And: couldn’t agree more about it actually starting in your late 30s – that’s when I really started noticing my body changing; and also when I started feeling a sense of time running out (or at least a sense of urgency about changing things in my life).

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  16. Eeh Bah Mum on said:

    I love being 40 mainly because I honestly couldn’t give a f*ck what people think of me anymore. And now I love being 40 even more because I get to appreciate your blog. Being young sucks ( my boobs might disagree with this).

  17. Haha! And: yes, I think ‘…You Don’t Give A F*** What People Think Of You’ may well be a future post headline… 😉

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  19. Excellent, but just wait until you are in your late 50’s but still feel like an 8 year old in an adults world…. for a single male over 50 whose passion is assisting young women in sport in remote countries, I often become ‘over 40’ when asked my age, I just cant accept the numbers attached to me…..

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