How do we talk about something if we don’t have the words?This difficult question has presented itself to me before I’m half-way through my first coffee. I’m standing in my socks, staring at a wall of sharpie-covered sticky note chaos in my office. It’s an early winter morning. I’m mentally willing the pastel cloud of research staring back at me to organize itself.
Language That Empowers
I’ve spent years investigating the topic of women turning forty from every possible angle. The notes are sorted into colour-coded categories that I’ve been digging into on the topic of women in their forties – Neurology, Biology, Psychology, Sociology – with dozens of sub-headings mixed in. It had become a point of practicality. I needed a shorthand to describe what I was doing.
I took a sip of coffee, looked at all the headings, and mumbled, “Fortyology.”
The Fear Whisper
Without exception, whenever the topic of my research came up, any woman over 35 and within earshot perked up, looked me straight in the eyes, and whisper-pleaded with me to publish my book before their fortieth birthday.
Turning forty was obviously on their minds, and despite a life that looked really good on Instagram, they were having a small (or in my case, large) freak-out. At the very least, they had some legitimate questions about life after forty.
Perhaps, it is because this is a truly complex time of life for women. It’s a time when we
are so much to so many in our lives, yet struggle with our own identity. Many women in their late 30s and early 40s feel profoundly unfulfilled, or disillusioned with the life they’ve built, irrespective of what it looks like on the outside.
It’s no wonder we lack a meaningful language to talk about this stage of life. Our words are borrowed from our younger selves, and more often from the media messages that we willingly and unwillingly absorb, and have for our entire lives.
The Age Gap
There is no lack of bite-size reading material on the subject of turning forty. Most of it social media clickbait, full of tired, patronizing advice, or lists of 40 Things To Do In Your 40s! Or, the truly gag-inducing Forty Is The New Twenty genre.
But, what I have found, despite research chops honed in national newsrooms, hundreds of conversations with scientists, psychologists, women (and men) of all ages and countless magazine articles and research papers is this: a common language to describe the era of your forties does not exist.
In fact, serious study of women between the ages of 36-50 is hard to come by. For decades, if not millennia, women in this age bracket have been dismissed as less than noteworthy in scientific terms, except for very specific exceptions, such as fertility.
But, finally there are signs of change in that gross overgeneralization.Research in the fields of biology, psychology, neurology, is opening new conversations and revealing valuable data.
To Have A Voice, You Need A Language
Which brings me to the name of our new language, and blog – Fortyology.
Forty, refers to the age bracket between 40-49, and ‘ology’ is the study of.
Yep, that’s me. World’s first Fortyologist.
Fortyology is the umbrella under which we will explore data, stories, sage advice and culture of being forty(ish) in a Boomer – Millennial world.
I’ve spent several years researching Fortyology from a place of passion, science journalism, self-interest and above all, the desire to share this with you. It’s no coincidence that I’ve also been embedded in the world of my forties and have learned much from my own experiences, research and wisdom from those who have come before.
I can’t wait to share this language and the world of Fortyology with you, and for all of us to expand our vocabulary.
Leave a comment, or send an email to share your thoughts on the language of forty.