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Priya Joi answers The Questions I Always Ask

This week, science journalist and author Priya Joi shares the wisdom she's learnt and earnt

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What has been your biggest life shift?
Moving to Barcelona in 2019. Until then, I had my immigrant parents’ work ethic and I had lived solely to work; my career had been all-consuming, even after I had my daughter in 2014. When she was a year old, we moved to France and I worked across the border in Switzerland for the UN and everyone else worked all the time too. When my daughter became a toddler, I suddenly had this realisation that time was speeding by, and knew we needed to live in a way where my career wasn’t the centre of everything. As soon as we moved to a city where people go to the beach midweek, where people stop work early for tapas and a vermouth, and weekends are for family and friends, it made me see how life could be lived differently. How I could still be driven and ambitious but avoid burnout by having more balance. Every now and then I find myself dissolving into work too much and, at eight years old, my daughter is confident enough to tell me that I’m too busy and not spending enough time with her, and it makes me shake things up to find balance again.

What do you wish someone had told you about life after 40?
How much clarity of thought it gives you. I used to be mystified by people’s behaviour sometimes when I was younger. Now I understand why people behave the way they do so much better, it’s made me less judgemental and more understanding. I used to see things very much in black and white, now I can see almost everything exists in shades of grey. Very few things, or people for that matter, are exclusively ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it’s a matter of context and perspective. This clarity has also made me more forgiving of myself and my flaws, as I can finally accept that I’m human too and it’s OK not to be perfect.

The best thing about getting older is?
Caring so much less – whether that’s about what people think of me, or if things don’t always go smoothly, or if I don’t always achieve everything I set out to do. Mortality looms larger when you turn 40, and I started to appreciate how little time we actually have zooming around the sun on this blue planet, and how we really should just let go and enjoy the ride. It could all literally end in the next second.

And the worst?
As a woman, you start to become more invisible as you age. It’s a terrible thing but society really tries to pretend that older women don’t exist and the things we care about, whether that’s our careers or the menopause, are treated as a niche concern, rather than something that affects a significant proportion of the population. And while I don’t personally subscribe to aesthetic procedures like Botox or fillers, it’s unfair to demonise women who do because all they’re trying to do is remain relevant and visible in a society that is trying to act like they don’t matter anymore.

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Topic Questions I always ask