Top five ways to cope!
There will be a day, perhaps not far from now, perhaps it's already happened, when you realise that you're most definitely ageing. Usually this happens whilst looking at photographs of yourself in younger days before the dreaded trilogy of mortgage, kids and career took hold. Their grip on your life plays out in lines across your forehead, flecks of grey that your partner tells you look distinguished and a nose that I swear is getting bigger - or is that just me? So how to cope - this is after all a change of image, a physical alteration. If you had plastic surgery you could have counselling to come to terms with looking at a new face in the mirror, so why not for ageing? I think my ears are getting bigger too - in fact one is slightly bigger than the other.
Don't mess up your life in a vain attempt to re-capture your youth. I know more forty somethings who have left their spouses and kids, jacked in their humdrum jobs and bought a second hand sports car than I care to mention. Why do they do it? Because they looked at that picture of themselves, probably in their student days, and realised something was missing. The spark had gone, they'd settled for less than they'd hoped - or just settled. They want to recapture the feeling they had of relative care-freeness and do so by pretending that they are carefree. This is a huge mistake and frankly very sad. Nothing brings a tear to my eye like the sight of a middle-aged man in a sports car. So here's an idea to stop those of us who might be in danger of throwing our lives away like a dodo off a cliff - do one thing each day that makes you feel young. Play fight with your kids, dance insanely to the music of your youth (in my case the 80's but you can select your own period), write a song and sing it into your iPhone truly believing that you are an undiscovered rock genius and whatever else you do, allow yourself one gadget every six months. Gadget retail therapy is like counselling but cheaper.
Keep fit sensibly. The reason I say 'sensibly' is that becoming a gym junkie isn't good for middle age. It looks desperate. Pounding in the fitness has always seemed a little extreme to me. Eat less and move around more. Get up off the office chair more often, walk to work if you can, have a stroll at lunchtime rather than a sandwich with your computer, don't drink alcohol (except for weekends - lifestyle rules don't apply at weekends). Eat some vegetables, eat some fruit and drink some water. Check your scrotum for lumps that shouldn't be there and stop being afraid of seeing the doctor. Seeing the doctor is a good thing, checks ups are great.
Get comfortable in your own skin. If the 60's are the new 50's and the 50's the new 40's then it stands to reason that the 40's are the new 30's. To be 30 something was, once upon a time, great fun. You'd left the dark days of your 20's when you had no money and little confidence. Being 30 you'd started on life's journey, you'd found your calling and had enough money to enjoy things. Now, the 30's are much like the 20's. Full of angst, you search around for your place in the world, looking over your shoulder the whole time. It takes twice as long to get the career you want and twice as long before you can even think about affording marriage or kids or mortgages. So surely your 40's are a time to celebrate. The uncertainty is gone, you can finally relax in your own skin and face the world with confidence. You've found your place. Why give all that up? So you've had a hard day, you look older, you can't go out when you feel like it. Its not the end of the world is it? Man up!
Learn something new. I know a few people who are in their 70's and 80's. They don't appear as old as they are. Why? Because they never stop discovering things, learning things and trying things. Being settled in your home, or in your job, or in your marriage, doesn't mean you should have a settled brain. Use it - that's what its there for. You can take evening classes if you feel so inclined. Or just use the internet - the ultimate democratisation of knowledge. Either way, keep learning, keep finding out, keep reading, keep doing. Practice one new skill. I'm learning to play the piano. I can feel the synapses firing. It feels good, sounds awful - but feels good.
Moisturize, pluck everything and don't grow a beard. (That's just laziness).