Since my 42nd birthday is Nov. 2 and I like movies, I’ve been noting how women in their 40s are depicted in movies and noting what the movie makers depict as “messy,” comparing it to my own reality.
In Bridget Jones’s Baby, On Bridget’s 43rd birthday her old group of friends cancel their plans to spend time with her because of their children, and she has just gotten out of a relationship. She ends up getting involved with a stranger who turns out to be a billionaire. But, she ends up marrying her ex. Although she may have made mistakes in this comedy, she is depicted as a successful, committed television producer through much of the movie.
In Hidden Figures, Taraji Henson, who is in her later 40s, played Katherine Gobele, a single mother of three who gets a job as a human computer at Langley Research and calculates the trajectories for the Apollo 11 and Space Shuttle missions. Octavia Spencer, who is in her mid-40s, plays Dorothy Vaughn, who in the movie was supervisor of the programming department but in real life was the first black supervisor of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA.
In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts, who was 42, tells her husband she doesn’t want to be married anymore then embarks on a journey to Italy, India and Bali only to accidentally find love again.
Never having children, I can relate to old friends canceling plans with me because of commitments with their kids.
I wanted to be a newspaper journalist when I was 14, went straight to college after high school and eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. I started freelance writing. But, when I married and moved to another county, my husband convinced me to work 10-hour days taking care of people who weren’t well in a group home, as he did as a nursing assistant, because it provided more money.
After the divorce, I continued going along with his philosophy of going where I could make a good income-selling everything from laser medical spa treatments to pharmaceuticals. But, I was bored out of my mind and I missed my family! I started freelancing again on the side and got happier and less bored. I moved back to Genesee County where I am close to my family, and about a year later, I got my full-time job in journalism.
The 40s can be a time of selfdiscovery, or sometimes re-selfdiscovery and of new opportunity. Like the characters the actresses portrayed, I feel more capable and inquisitive than ever. The love I have for my dog who is the world for me and the responsibility I feel in taking care of him, equates to the same love I believe a woman would give a 14-year-old kid. Because of him, I am filled with love and have learned better how to love. I anticipate the self-awareness and inner power I feel at 41 will grow with each birthday!
Tanya Terry is a staff writer for The View Newspapers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.