At 25, I danced like everybody was watching. I felt my looks dictated my success with work, men, landlords and baristas. It was exhausting. It was also unnecessary, I just didn’t know it yet. Now at 41, I’ve abandoned that futile way of thinking in favour of a peaceful confidence I simply could not have imagined owning at 25.
I’m not alone. Best-selling author Cheryl Strayed, who spent a chunk of time in her 20s hiking solo through the Pacific Crest Trail, describes herself far happier and more confident at 44 than at 22.
“It isn’t that I no longer feel uncertain and insecure, but rather that I’ve become more comfortable with these feelings,” Strayed explains. “I can laugh at myself more readily. I can see what’s my responsibility and what isn’t about me in the slightest. When I have setbacks and disappointments, I bounce back more quickly because I’ve got perspective from having been forced to bounce back before.”
More than ever, women in their 40s are tapping into a well of mindfulness, strength and intrepid confidence that is far more developed than it was in their 20s. But for those still struggling with finding their footing in their 40s (and beyond), Marla Shapiro, a family doctor and the television host of Balance: Television for Living Well has a few suggestions.