“Life begins at forty” I heard that a lot growing up and I observed many young people misinterpret this simple phrase, assume they have time and use it as an excuse not to try till forty, i guess 🙂.
Life Begins at Forty is a 1932 American self-help book by Walter B. Pitkin. This book was very popular and influential. It was the #1 bestselling non-fiction book in the United States in 1933, and #2 in 1934, according to Publishers Weekly. More an extended essay and exhortation than a detailed self-help book in the modern sense, the general thrust of the book is that, given the current conditions of the world, one could look forward to many years of fulfilling and happy existence after age 40, provided that one maintained the proper positive attitude. (Source: Wikipedia)
Here’s a quick Google result:
Origin: The notion that ‘life begins at forty’ is a 20th century one; prior to that it was more accurate to say ‘death begins at forty’ as most people didn’t live much beyond that age. Life expectancy in mediaeval England was around 25 years and only reached forty sometime around the turn of the 20th century. By the 1930s many, in western societies at least, could expect a decent spell of reasonably affluent retirement, free from work and the responsibilities of childcare. Household gadgets like washing machines and vacuum cleaners were becoming more widely used and had begun to relieve women’s drudgery and offer them increasing amounts of leisure time as compared to their Victorian mothers.”
From my gatherings, majority interpretations of this phrase “life begins at forty” are that at forty it is assumed that:
- You have probably figured out what you want to do with your life, career-wise.
- You are possibly married or in a relationship and hopefully happy or aware of what you want out of a relationship.
- You should have your family and the children are out of the baby phase and you’re starting to get your life back.
- Financially you are stable and you are more confident about your financial position.
- Physically you have got the time to take care of yourself and your health.
- You have a better Lifestyle, capable of relaxing, taking time out and having vacations.
Age is a state of mind, even though at a certain stage in life it is expected that we have learnt & experienced more. At age 1-20years its simply growing up and learning the basics of life, phase 20-40years is mostly work, trying to get a career and a source of livelihood. After Forty and onwards, society believes you are settled, more comfortable in life and an age where you have “everything figured out’. Does that mean all this can not be achieved at an earlier age?
I believe the phrase should perhaps be “A better life begins at Forty” rather than “Life begins at forty” because life officially begins from the day you step into this world and cried out loud as a baby. I understand that life is a consistent learning curve and experience but I actually think the expected better life at 40 is dependent on every decision you make for yourself and those made on your behalf by your guardians (as a child) as you journey through life. To a great extent, an experience may become less relevant as the state of the world changes and there is a new experience that we are required to adapt to as humans.
Sadly, a large number of young people misinterpret this phrase to mean you can’t do a lot at your younger age, you have enough time and it is never late for you to discover your purpose, since you are not yet 40. With this as an excuse, they are scared of failing and as a result they end up doing nothing but procrastinate, loose time and end up regretting lost time.
As young people, it is better to try now and kill the fear of failure. In fact, I will say “we should fail on time, learn from our mistakes on time then go on and be great in life” – Parklins.
So far, I have come to understand that regret is indeed one of the worst feelings to experience as human. I often hear people say I had the Uber idea, the Jumia idea or Stutern idea, Hello Youngie (maybe now old)! you didn’t do sh*t about it then, this is how talk is cheap without execution. I always recommend doing what you love ❤️ or are passionate about. “If you are confused and not sure what you love, try out all the things you are interested in until you discover your purpose”- Parklins. Time is the most important of all treasures.
You think you have lost nothing from indulging in a practice just for the money without love and passion, Yes you gain knowledge and experience along the way but you still have lost an important time that should have been spent gaining mastery in that which your purpose lies.
At the hour of regret, you begin a struggle to catch up and probably now have more distractions which will make it herculean for you to achieve mastery, catch up and keep up. My point simply is, “life begins at 40” can mean whatever the 39-year-old needs it to mean to help them feel good about the milestone! that does not mean that ‘whatever’ can not be at an earlier age. Summarily, “Whatever it is that you love ❤️, Do That, Do it incredibly and stand out” – Parklins.
Many thanks to Chijioke Ifenkwe Esq for editing this piece.
Parklins (drops mic)