The Awakening that happens at 40.


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Something magical happens around 35 to 40 years of age.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of our brains, we begin to wake up from a slumber or a fog. We begin to look at the world in new ways.

For many of us, our children are now rather independent and wanting to venture out a little further from our ideals and rules. They want to set out and conquer what they view as the evils of the world. They are hell-bent on leaving their mark on society.

Much like we did at that age.

As that magic number of 40 appears in our life, we begin to realize there is more to life than endless piles of laundry and taxiing kids to their activities. We have spent our whole adult lives trying to give ourselves to something outside of ourselves. First, to the college we attended. Then to our first jobs. Then to our spouses and our kids. We have spent so much time and energy on others, trying to prove our existence, that we forgot about ourselves along the way.

I remember being a second-time mom and reading articles in magazines that told me to take time for myself when baby is sleeping. I also remember laughing at those articles, thinking they obviously did not have any children. When my baby slept, I was busy with the chores that couldn’t get done when the baby was awake. The pile of dishes in the sink. The mountains of laundry that needed to be done. Just how a small human being can accumulate so many dirty clothes is still beyond my comprehension to this day!

Time for myself was not even on my radar at that point. I had to accomplish so much in that hour that my babies were napping! Life went on while they recharged.

So we give. We give more than we realize.

Then what seems like all of a sudden, the piles of dishes have diminished. The mountains of laundry turn into molehills. Cooking dinner for one or two becomes our new reality. And we realize we have been giving to everyone but ourselves.

There is that magic day that we look around and there are no toys to pick up and we realize that we are only responsible for ourselves. And maybe those articles that told us to take time for us were right, because now what? Now who do I give myself to?

It is around this time that we start looking inward. We start to wonder what our passions are and what interests we might have. Sure we probably took some time for things we enjoyed over the last few years—but more to escape the craziness of our households than real passions that made our hearts sing.

We start to ask the question: what do I do now? Now that we can do anything we want to do without worrying about childcare or making dinner for our family, we are perplexed.

Who am I? What drives me? What makes my heart smile?—All questions that become important in our minds. We are driven to find these answers. We search the self-help section at the bookstore. We make appointments with life coaches or therapists. We start to venture into these conversations with friends.

What we see inside ourselves sometimes scares us. This strong desire to become more conscious about what drives us is bigger now than we have ever allowed it to be. Some of us get mad at ourselves for allowing our passion to just sit for all these years. Some of us get scared at just how strong that desire is. Some of us have absolutely no clue what our passions truly are.

That is when we start our awakening.

People on the outside looking at us might call this a midlife crisis rather than an awakening. We ourselves might refer to this as a crisis and not an awakening.

A crisis is defined as an unstable or even a dangerous situation—and we may feel unsteady in a world that we knew so well, a world where we had all the rules and schedules figured out. Then, it seems, all that changes overnight. We are awakening to these strange sensations we are experiencing. We are starting to recognize or become aware of something stirring in us. Something deep and real inside of us.

When I was going through my divorce, I was told I was just having a midlife crisis. It will be fine, I was told. And they were right, because I felt anything but like I was in crisis mode. I felt alive and free for the first time in I don’t know how many years! I felt like I was waking up from some deep slumber I didn’t know I had been in. I could feel my desires and passion stretching like they had been sleeping for centuries. Reaching up and out. Flexing their muscles. Screaming at me to be heard.

This all happened around that magic age of 40. So maybe 40 is the new 20. Maybe 40 is the time in our lives that we realize we are an important part of society—not to leave our marks, but to discover what gifts we have to offer.

We find softer ways to let society know we have something to offer:


We look selfish to the younger generation and our kids because we are finally taking time for us. We are no longer feeling the need to manage schedules. Now, when we take a yoga class or head to the bookstore, we are truly doing it for enjoyment and not escape. We are waking to all the possibilities of what we have and who we are.

We are now ready to take that time that the magazines warned us we would need. We are ready to let the magic of 40 begin.

Relephant and fun: 

“A 20-year-old model photographed as if she were 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 & 60 years old.”


Bonus: The Introvert Myth: How to Deal with being an Empath.


Author: Debbi Serafinchon

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: sakiryildirim/Deviantart


Image: sakiryildirim / Deviantart

Image: Elephant Journal on Instagram



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stacey.turknett Mar 12, 2019 7:00am

Great article! Totally hearted it 😉 I am 42 and I feel like my life is just starting. Maybe that is because I was a teen mom and now an empty-nester…still pondering that one! Regardless, this was right on the money!

Melissa Selph Mar 4, 2019 11:29am

Love this! I can totally relate! My oldest just turned 21 and my younger one 14. I will be 40 this June, fresh out of graduate school in May and embarking on a new career that I am so passionate about. Here’s to new beginnings and the fog lifting!

rconrad06 Feb 27, 2019 7:45am

I must say I’m kind of disheartened by this article. I’m 40 and my oldest is 11 and youngest is 5. There are too many assumptions placed on age and I think that the author must be old-fashioned to assume that women are still having children at 20. Most are just starting to have children between 35-40 these days. Also, most of us are working parents who don’t stay home.

    Melissa Selph Mar 4, 2019 11:34am

    Peace love and light on your own journey ❤? enjoy your little ones they grow so fast!

see Feb 23, 2019 8:15am

I definitely feel a shift from 35 but the context and in what way of this article doesn’t relate to me! Myself and a lot of my friends around 34 years plus are only starting to have children or to consider if it’s something to create. There’s definitely a looking at more details in how to be of service and what creates a happy/ balanced energy.

Pamela Vinton Jan 27, 2019 12:49pm

Oh yes..40 was the new 20. It was he Year I bought a Harley and started riding by myself on the street and not the dirt. It was a truly liberating time. Seven short years later, I lost 220 lbs and really became free! And now 17 1/2 years later I am inspired to cheer others on in their own awakenings! ☮️♥️?

Jo Davis May 28, 2018 6:30am

We'd love to see fhis article published at McGill Media. Pm me!

Rachael Bellanca Muntz Nov 15, 2017 5:27pm

I am almost 40. And just had my first I don't think this of course applies to everyone. I had my freedom in my early 30's, and it was amazing. I look forward to my late 50's, early 60's where my soon-to-be husband and I can enjoy travel together.

Shireen Gheba Aug 11, 2017 3:30am

I'm 60 now (find it hard to believe), feels like I've felt all these feelings mentiined here and still do. Life is so beautiful and so full of amazing realities. I'm so much at peace. Specially the luxury of not letting in anyone into my life who is unworthy of it. So finally, one feels like the central queen of ones life. Yes, it's a eureka moment.

Amanda Philip Jul 1, 2017 6:25am

I don't usually comment on these articles, but I have to say there is something in here that really irks me. I am a stay a home mom, and I have been for 15 years. In that time I have been raising four children, and am currently expecting my fifth. In this time I have also explored photography, participated in local theatre as an actor/singer/volunteer, volunteered as a breastfeeding support for mothers, created and actively maintain a homeschooling network for local families, had several letters to newspapers and magazines published regarding topics I am passionate about and are of interest to me, taught fitness classes, and most recently, organized a first annual health and wellness event in my community. So please, in all that time and activity, when was I trying to escape the craziness of my household, as opposed to exploring passions that made my heart sing? I really resent the idea that mothers have no life outside of their children, and it isn't until children become "independent" that we can finally "have a life." I brought my children to the theatre for rehearsals and shows, they saw me succeed in photography competitions, and they participate in activities run through the homeschooling network which I created. Mothers can actively seek out personal interests at the same time they are raising their dependent children. There is no need to put your life on hold, or feel like something has been lost or wasted. While I do believe that children come first, and sacrifices are made during parenthood, your own identity doesn't need to be one of them.

Gaby Pineda Cañénguez May 20, 2017 12:34pm

Wow!!! This article is amazing. One of my favorites ever. I can relate to it 100%. I couldn't have said it better. The older I get the more I love myself and my life! Thank you for your fantastic article.

Nicole Wubben May 20, 2017 1:27am


Ronny Rondog Kuipers May 19, 2017 10:45pm

I must say Debbie you are blessed to not have had to work for your childs younger years and obviously had a husband who supported you whilst you rediscovered yourself. In my opinion if you had had the pressure of supporting a whole family for those years your outlook might be different

Drema Drake Paugh May 7, 2017 11:43am

Yep I think us late bloomers get a delay on this maybe. I'm 40 this year and my youngest is 3. :)

Maggie McCormack May 7, 2017 9:51am

I turned 40 this year and cannot relate to this article at all.

Lauren Rose May 1, 2017 5:45pm


Frederick A Smith III Apr 25, 2017 8:51am

why did it take me till I was 60 to have the 40 awakening ? Im was 40 when I had my kids.

Erica Kremer Apr 23, 2017 8:13am

So much alignment to my life right now.. Wish I knew my passions.. I'll get there..

Heidi Burke Apr 14, 2017 7:03pm

I really enjoyed your article thanks for sharing

Candy Viegut Mar 31, 2017 3:02pm

i am way older than 40 but this spoke to me so profoundly...thank you!

Rose Dawson Dec 31, 2016 9:44am

This article feels like a short introduction...

Bek Wilson Dec 31, 2016 1:00am

Your article assumes all women are mothers by 35 and that identity has beem about kids. Whilst I liked some of your points I found the rest skewed towards mothers. Maybe title it what happens after 40 for mothers as its not relevant to those yet to have children. Id be interested in your thoughts about a more spiritual focused change. You have some great ideas.

Róbert Eszes Sep 3, 2016 1:39am

Does it make any difference for the conclusion of the article? You don't need kids to have the same feelings/experience.

Debbi Serafinchon Aug 17, 2016 4:43am

I write what I know. I am a Mom to 4 young adults and teens.

Jill Jennings Aug 8, 2016 9:52am

Hmmm shame that this article, like so many others, assumes we're all parents!

Edelle Mc Garth Jul 6, 2016 6:00am

im turning 40 and my kids are still young so i think this is more 50 then 40 re the childrenm .. but the awakening def spot on

Jenny Davies Jun 26, 2016 2:35pm

Wow it makes you think differently but you seem to understand things in a way you had thought of

Jason Matson May 31, 2016 12:06am

Midlife happens for men too...

Debbi Serafinchon May 22, 2016 4:16pm

Thank you!

Erin Renee May 15, 2016 8:54am

Wow.... Just... Wow Thank you!

Eleni Ansley May 8, 2016 3:33pm

Spot on in all aspects - except I'd say 50, rather than 35-40, is the average age for these life changes.

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Debbi Serafinchon

Debbi Serafinchon is a passionate lover of life. Most of her writing comes from personal experiences that she takes the time to try and understand through her writing. A natural questioner of life, she often tries to fit the pieces of what is happening in her world together through writing. This divorced mom to four older children, finds she now has the time to follow her dreams. She loves to travel, learn and interact with people. Her life is summarized by her favorite quote by Douglas Adams: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” You can find more of her writing on her website and follow her on Facebook.