I’m 42 years old and have come to terms with the fact that if I want to be happy with myself and where I am in my life I need to embrace myself. I need to have 42-year-old expectations of my mind and body. I need to understand the changes I’m experiencing and stop putting unrealistic expectations on myself.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago when my skin was tight, my muscle tone was easy to maintain, and I could eat anything I wanted without fear of heartburn, bloat, or staying up all night.
The past few years or so have been filled with becoming aware of myself in my current state, accepting myself in my forties, and understanding that I will never be what I once was. And while it was hard at first, and at times still is, I am appreciating the transition.
The Shift I Wasn’t Prepared For
When I was a kid I used to think 40 was so old. I remember my mom throwing my father an ‘over the hill’ party for his fortieth birthday. And guess what, as a 10-year-old kid I thought he was. Forty seemed so far away. And then I blinked, and here I am.
Well, not really, that’s just me being dramatic.
But what happened is that maybe I didn’t appreciate my younger years as much as I wish I could’ve because I didn’t think it would come to an end. And it seemed to happen quite abruptly.
When I was younger I was very self-conscious of my body, I never wore anything tight, I didn’t show my mid-drift as my friends did, and I wore bras that flattened me out instead of appreciating my shape and buoyancy – if you know, you know.
And when I finally reached an age when I had more confidence and felt more comfortable in my skin I started to see that I no longer had all the attributes of young, tight skin, a faster metabolism, and all those other things I took for granted.
I Tried To Embrace Myself But Failed – Here’s Why
I went through different stages of trying to bring more youth into my style, including starting to wear bright colors, which is so not me. And I updated my makeup to be more on-trend, and I started following fashion blogs and social media accounts.
The problem was I felt like I was losing myself. And really, I was just trying to find myself. Or find me at my current stage in my life.
Needless to say, I wasted money on purple sweaters, pink tops, colorful eyeshadow, and too-bright lipsticks. I was never comfortable with myself and always felt like I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.
Then I went to the other extreme. I dove into the frumpy look head-on. This was to hide the belly bloat I started to experience the moment I turned forty. And I subbed out my tank tops for short sleeves to hide the loose arm skin I was crazy embarrassed about.
And finally, I shaved my head. Yup, I did that. I had long, beautiful, curly hair down the center of my back and I decided to go for a buzz cut. So that ticked off both boxes, trendy and also I was embracing my gray hair – because the idea was that I would grow it out naturally. Finally, I was embracing myself.
Of course, this didn’t feel like me either. Now I had a shaved head and I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. There have definitely been a few times I was startled by my own reflection. I mean, who the hell was that staring back at me?
The Process of Figuring Out How To Embrace Myself
Well, it hasn’t been easy to figure out how to embrace me. Especially since I wasn’t happy with myself. So I took a good, hard look at myself and decided that only I could figure out what I needed to do to be comfortable with myself.
I mean, I’m only in my early forties, I have many years ahead of me and I don’t want to spend them fretting over this silliness, right?
So, I made a list. Yes, I wrote it down, because my memory certainly isn’t what it used to be. The long and short of it is that I needed to start working out, focusing on healthy eating, spending time doing things I love, and curating a wardrobe that I was comfortable in – not what I wanted to be comfortable in, but what I was actually comfortable in.
So, step by step, I chose to do each and every one of those things. I started slowly and took it a day at a time. At first, I started working out a few days a week, but now I regularly work out 5-6 days a week.
I totally changed my diet. Now I prepare healthy snacks for when I know I won’t be home for hours at a time. I consume much less salt, sugar, caffeine, and those crazy ingredients I can’t pronounce. And I allow myself to indulge when I’m out with friends and family – because where’s the fun if I didn’t?
I created a morning routine to ensure I have time to do things that I love. During this time I focus on my hobbies, creative writing, meditation, and overall just allow myself to have a set time during the day to focus on myself.
I totally updated my closet. This is actually still in process, but that could be because I like to shop. I finally came to terms with the fact that I don’t like to wear color. Never have and probably never will. I am thrilled to have 8 of the same color gray sweaters. And 7 different white tees that I can wear each day of the week if I choose to because that’s what I feel good in.
It wasn’t an easy transition. It took time and effort. However, it was absolutely worth it. I am so proud of myself, comfortable with myself, and content with where I am today. I am in my forties and I will enjoy every moment of them! Oh, I’m blonde again, too.
Final Thoughts on Embracing Myself
One thing I realized is I don’t want to always wish I was something different. I want to look back at my memories and realize I loved myself for who I was and embraced everything about myself. Not remembering that I was uncomfortable in an outfit because I was trying to look thinner, younger, or stylish when I didn’t like the style.
I’ve also put a lot of thought into what I want to fill my time with. I don’t want to look back and realize I spent hours upon hours every night watching television. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have shows that I enjoy watching. It just means that I also devote time to experiences, time with loved ones, and focus on things that fulfill and challenge me at the same time.
I am so happy that I finally figured out how to embrace myself. Tell me how you embrace yourself below. Don’t forget, live your life for yourself!