5 Life Lessons From My 40 Years Of Life As A Woman

As you age, you will realise it is difficult being a woman with a voice in this world. While times are changing and thankfully so, it still is challenging to be yourself.

As a child, I often found it bizarre that while I was growing every year, women in my house, the neighbourhood, and my town never crossed the number 39. They just weren’t ready to graduate to their 40th year gracefully. Equally strange was when men made statements like men become naughty at 40 and women took pride in saying I am not 40 yet. To me, they all seemed emotionally dysregulated because I could see their sluggish laugh after they made these statements.

And for this reason alone, turning 40 was etched as a landmark number in my naïve mind for eternity.  I turn 40 exactly 10 days from now. And because the sound of the subdued laughter from my childhood continues to echo in my subconscious mind even now, I feel compelled to write this piece.

As I look back at my journey so far, there are many frames filled with love and laughter, and quite a few dipped in heartbreak and failure too. But such is life. You win some, you lose some. While I cannot speak for everyone, I do think the lessons I learnt in this journey as a woman may help someone from my own tribe. Maybe.

Lessons that young women and girls must take cognizance of, although I hope men read them too.

Whenever you step out, put your sunscreen on

Just like sunscreen protects and helps combat the damage caused by the UVA/ UVB rays of the sun, wear your CONFIDENCE too when you step out. Because it isn’t an easy world out there. You will meet nice people and have great experiences. Sure. But in this journey called life; you will also meet someone who will rub you the wrong way. That is a given.

You run the risk of being called Fatso and Flatscreen both; You may be mocked for your dark complexion; You can be slut shamed or labelled tomboyish and hence unworthy of being loved, in both cases; Sometimes people will doubt your intelligence because you are a woman; And the same set of people would not leave an opportunity to touch you inappropriately because you are a woman.

Let me tell you, your confidence is your sunscreen in these situations. Learn to apply this sunscreen every single day. And be very liberal when you do that. Your confidence is your armour. It is the one thing that will keep unwanted people at bay and stop you from sinking within. Good people will laud you for your confidence and the bad ones will learn to be nice.

Respect is non-negotiable

This is especially for young girls. As someone who has just begun to explore the world, please develop your innate ability to sense a red flag, especially disrespectful behaviour.

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For instance, don’t jump into relationships at the drop of a hat. If you have someone following you in the neighbourhood, chasing you on social media, sending you gifts, and showing up in cafes where you are chatting with your friends, it does not mean that the cute-looking crazed stranger is in love with you. It only means he is stalking you. Understand the difference. Please know stalking is a sign of disrespect and can lead to abuse in the later stages because a stalker does not have respect for your privacy, comfort, and liking.

Unfortunately, stalking has been romanticised in our entertainment industry for too long. 1 out of 6 women in this country is stalked at least once in her life. Please run and report the stalker rather than reciprocating his feelings.

Whether at work or in a relationship, disrespect in the form of mental, verbal, or physical abuse should be dealt with strictly right at the start. If it has happened once, it will happen again. Nip it in the bud. Respect is non-negotiable.

(And this one comes from a place of experience and not observation).

Learn to draw boundaries; learn to say NO

A recent Practo study conducted ahead of International Women’s Day, on a sample size of 78000 women revealed that the largest group seeking help with mental health was between 24-35 years!

As you age, you will realise it is difficult being a woman with a voice in this world. While times are changing and thankfully so, it still is challenging to be yourself. Period. As you set out to essay myriad roles of a daughter/spouse/colleague/daughter-in-law/mother, many curveballs might be thrown at you. If you keep accepting all of them one day you will find you have no voice left because you stayed silent for too long. Draw the boundary when your heart does not want to take the catch. Put your foot down firmly and say NO when something costs you your peace. There is no glory in becoming a superwoman in another’s eye at the cost of your health, both mental and physical.

Learn to deal with situations

Whatever it is that you are dealing with find ways to snap out of it. Failure in examination, abusive parents, heartbreak, infidelity, toxic in-laws, demotion at work, hyperactive children, no children…whatever it is, find a way. Find a graceful way.

It gets terrifyingly hard sometimes; mourn it, face it, dodge it, beat it…whatever seems doable do that. But never drown in its profound sorrow. Do not give up on yourself. Do not let a bad person, a failed relationship, or an untoward situation, define your life ahead. Sit with your grief. Make peace with it. And then move on. Do not get stuck in a loop. Move beyond and above your circumstance.

Relax, eat well, and sleep well

Last year I had an interesting conversation with my cousin who happens to be a surgeon. While I was blabbering about what should be done to reduce the number of headaches I was experiencing and feared I had a migraine, he continued to smile. Because we have grown up together, he knows me too well. According to him, I was experiencing nothing but a TENSION HEADACHE and that most women go through these stress headaches because we are a natural when it comes to not eating well, not sleeping well. At first, I was furious that he was not taking me seriously but when I googled TENSION HEADACHES IN WOMEN I was baffled to know that it was true.

My dear woman, the rules are pretty simple. YOU need to take care of yourself. Find ways to relax yourself in between your hectic schedules. Exercise frequently, eat on time and catch up on your sleep.

Unlike the ladies from my childhood, who despised being 40, I am just happy I made it this far. And I can finally see what matters in life and what doesn’t. To know it was never about turning 40 rather it is all about what I do and how I do it, is liberating.

Here’s to all the women out there. 40 or not, hope you find freedom, wisdom, and grace along the way. Cheers!

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About the Author

Varunika Rajput

Varunika lives in the city of Mumbai with her two gregarious girls and her husband and is happily taking care of her nest. In a parallel universe, Varunika is the author of the book WOMEN & read more...

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