Can you be happy and single in your 40s? Of course you can.

You don’t need a baby or marriage to succeed in life. And yet, women, in particular, are so often cast as caregivers, there is no narrative for those of us who veer off-script.

It’s an issue that lies at the heart of No One Tells You This, a new memoir by New York writer Glynnis MacNicol.

Approaching her 40th birthday a few years ago, Glynnis had a great career and a life that she loved.

But still, she found herself framed by the expectations of other people: people who felt she must want babies or a partner in order to feel fulfilled.

Read more: Solo travel fuels this major happiness habit

And that message was backed up by nearly every book, film and magazine she came across.

“It was nearly impossible, no matter how smart, educated, or lucky I was, not to conclude that I had officially become the wrong answer to the question of what made a woman’s life worth living,” says Glynnis.

With more and more of us choosing to live solo and not have children, child-free women in their 40s are a growing demographic. But our understanding of what this means is still evolving.

Instead of feeling bad about being child-free and single – as society expected her to – Glynnis decided to create a blueprint for women like her. Women who are happy living alone, without a partner or kids.

No One Tells You This documents the first year of  Glynnis’ life in her 40s, from life-changing adventures to dating and friendships.

It unpicks the question,  “If a story doesn’t end with marriage or a child, what then?”

Here are just a few of her insights:

Fake news

being single in your 40s

“Culturally there is a lot of messaging out there that after the age of 40 if you have not acquired a partner or child, you are sort of in a no man’s land of invisibility and things will probably be horrible for you from here on out […] I had been prepared to dread this period of my life but never prepared to enjoy it.”

(via Refinery29)

So ingrained 

living single

“I’d never bothered to seriously question whether I actually wanted to be married with kids, or even just with kids. I had simply taken it as a given, like financial security and regular exercise, obvious outcomes sane people generally aimed their lives toward.”

(via Simon and Schuster)

Sweet freedom

single in your 40s

“I made myself say it out loud: ‘I might always be alone.’ It sounded less overwhelming against the noise of the breaking waves. I laughed. ‘Fuck off,’ I thought, ‘I am done feeling bad.’ And then aloud: ‘I can do whatever I want.'”

(via Elle magazine)

Power of self

single in your 40s

“There’s no such thing as ‘all.’ I simply have as much and as little as any other woman I know and look forward to the day when women — single, married and otherwise — no longer need the words ‘husband’ and ‘baby’ to act as a special lemon juice squeezed over our lives in order to make them visible.”

(via the New York Times)

Change the story

“There are literally no stories about women that don’t end with marriage or a baby. We have so many role models as girls, growing up, independent characters: Harriet the Spy, The Secret Garden, The Hunger Games. But those stories essentially end with puberty.”

(via the Washington Post)

Solo travel

single in your 40s

“Women on road trips aren’t tragedies waiting to happen. Like men, we’re free. We don’t hear enough about women doing epic, exhilarating things without the comfortably defining presence of a man.”

(via the Guardian)

Finding purpose

single in your 40s

“My life is more enjoyable now than it has ever been, and more fulfilling. My relationships have deepened; I feel more secure and confident. The word I come back to is that I feel incredibly powerful. That is the antithesis of what you’re conditioned to think [as a single woman in her 40s] – you’re supposed to think of yourself as a disappearing entity with no agency.”

(via the Washington Post)

Single in your 40s?

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