As we stare down the barrel of another year, a familiar dread kicks in. As Soul 2 Soul said, we're “Back to life, back to reality”... And our reality is the juggle.
Either not having kids for whatever reason and soaring to new heights in our career or juggling kids and relationships and work. And either our aging parents have to work because life has got so friggin intense and expensive somehow. Or we are the sandwich generation caring for unwell older parents and small children simultaneously. Maybe beginning to feel the perception of age – not from us – but from others – which hadn't even occurred to us – I mean we're still in our jeans and Converse rockin' long hair like no-ones business. We'll either colour it or let it grey – we'll Botox or we won't – sometimes we still wax, (a little skeptical of the old “laser” business) or we let it grow – either way. See...We're not bothered by hair – whether grey or on parts of our body. We weren't brought up on Insta and Facey.
Don't get me wrong, we take good care of ourselves (mostly). It's just that we were taught our value lay way beneath the surface. As kids we embraced the 80s with men like Michael Jackson, George Michael, fluoro and bubble skirts. We had Madonna showing us we could be creative, loud, proud, rebels and absolutely equal to our male counterparts. We didn't have to be pretty or perfect and certainly not cookie cutter.
We graduated during a recession – jobs weren't guaranteed and no one was entitled to anything. If you were lucky enough to get a job, you had to work really really hard, get over yourself, start at the bottom and prove yourself over a very long period of time. Like a decade. Home loan interest rates were double figures so we weren't interested in buying up shoe boxes in sydney. We wanted to travel and get a bigger perspective of the world.
"It" bags, people and perfumes simply weren't a thing. We just had the supermodels to ogle at – fierce Naomi, classy yoga-head Christie and quirky Linda. We thought they were cool but we didn't want to be them. They weren't accessible to us. They were these goddesses residing on some heavenly planet somewhere. (Well, Kate Moss was on planet Calvin Klein). But their lives were not for us to aspire to. We put our heads down, worked our way up and forged careers, often changing mid-way to follow our loves or passions.
So we find ourselves in our 40s supposedly meant to be moving to some kind of “middle-aged” transition and yet here we are. Still doin’ our thing. Some of us too late for kids, maybe processing the grief of that, joyfully embracing the freedom of what this means, or choosing to have them solo. Maybe reeling from our new single parent status and divorce we never envisaged. Some of us in iron clad marriages that have lasted Phoenix-like through the toughest years. Or some of still waiting patiently for the great love of our lives, our Mr Big (thanks for that, Carrie Bradshaw).
Chronically exhausted from the juggle of "having it all" but still gettin' through it. We're fitter than our parents were, we cross-fit, we Pilates, we swim, we eat better, we found yoga and meditation – and a bunch of stuff only reserved for hippys in their generation – to help us survive. We listen to the same music as our kids and many of us even wear the same clothing and makeup brands. We're tired, but happy and healthy and basically getting shit done.
So my fellow women in their 40s, staring down the barrel of another year, I salute you. The gen X'ers who's fearless spirit and ability to get their hands dirty has meant we are STILL doing' it. And doing it our way. Because nobody puts Baby in the corner. Not now. Not ever. We're gonna be Flashdancing our way to the grave.