Lisa Walker: Finding your power in your 40's (and perimenopause)
Like it or not, if you're a woman, you're going to hit perimenopause. It's written in the stars. Lucky us.
Whilst there are many physical changes when we're over 40, how we approach this time of life mentally can also have a great impact.
Following a tumultuous 2022, I've chosen to lean in to my power.
I'm reflecting on my experience, wisdom and empathy that has helped me reach this glorious mid-life, and how I can be even better as I age (gracefully).
This is why I've chosen to make my 40's (and peri) my superpower, and it should be yours too.
WISDOM & EXPERIENCE:
By the time you're hitting the transitional time of your 40's, you've likely gained valuable life experience and dare I shout WISDOM. You've navigated through challenges with work, relationships and family, all have which will have given you a unique perspective and deeper understanding of yourself and others. Don't underestimate it.
Have you noticed the societal pressures and expectations we have during our 30's have disappeared? Particularly in relation to fertility. For me that has been totally liberating. Remember when there was the "I'm not ready for kids yet" to a few years later "holy moly my eggs are old, hurry up"? I had two 'geriatric' pregnancies. Another stigma.
Also gone is the sense of needing to please everyone. To reach a certain level in my career. To not upset someone who is doing the wrong thing. I'm not (as) afraid to put my own priorities first, or speak my mind.
There is a sense of freedom to pursue passions, embrace my true self and focus on personal fulfilment without the constraints of societal norms.
With age and experience, I feel more confident in my own skin. I've learned from past experiences, developed my own coping mechanisms and am brutally honest about my own strengths and weaknesses. I'm not saying that imposter syndrome has completely left the station, but it's not the number one stop now either. I've said yes to things that in the past would have terrified me, and you know what, I don't care so much what people think.
I'm trying to also embrace my changing body and the natural ageing process...this is still a bit of work, but I actually don't care as much as I used to. My boys kindly like to point out my wrinkles, and I 'love' them for it.
This can be a useful time of self-reflection and self-discovery, and working out how you want to spend the second half of your life. The 40's hormonal roller-coaster and subsequent emotions can be a positive. Hear me out.... each emotion has a role, and you can use them to help you re-evaluate your priorities, goals and values. It's useful to sit in and explore each emotion - don't run from it. It can be a type of meditation if you give yourself the space to understand how it affects you mentally and physically. Hopefully it will lead to personal growth and empowerment. I've used this technique throughout the rollercoaster of grief, and within it found my personal values I now live by.
Trust. Your. Gut. Your instincts have been honed by years of awareness. I'm finding now that I'm more sensitive to what is going on around me, and are better able to read people and situations. You too can use this to help you navigate decisions around relationships, career choices and personal well-being.
PERSONAL TIME & ENERGY
As you reach perimenopause, you will likely find yourself with more independent children (if you have them). Personally, I feel like I lost myself completely in the early years, what with the financial burdens of mortgage and child-care and juggling work. Finally now I can find the joy again in my wardrobe choices, can pursue new interests (learning to surf is on my list) and self-care such as escaping to the gym or going for a long walk in nature. I'm also finding my girlfriends again, and we're all reconnecting after what feels like years apart whilst we've all been in the thick of it.
What's important to understand is that hormonal changes in your 40's and beyond affects every woman differently. Right now I'm finding it empowering, but you might be experiencing challenging symptoms.
However you are being affected by perimenopause, please ensure you surround yourself with the right team of healthcare professionals, friends and loved ones. It will make all the difference.