I think I’ve always had it in my head that 40 is a long way off. Maybe it’s because my life didn’t happen on the typical path or timeline everyone else’s did. As a result I think it’s kind of creeped up and jumped out at me from behind the door.
I’ve been having some anxiety lately about being almost 40. Turning 30, and even 35, seemed like a breeze for me compared to what 40 is gearing up to be. So this is more of a pep talk than a cheer.
I have gray hairs now. Not just one or two that are easily laughed off. Lots of gray hairs. I started coloring my hair back when there were 6 of them because I’m telling you now, I am not going quietly into that dark night of salt and pepper. So I go to a salon and pay a professional to color my hair every 5 weeks. Not long ago I went a little longer than usual between visits and I made the mistake of pulling my hair up in front of a mirror in the daylight. It’s not gray “hairs” anymore. It’s patches. Gray patches. Because my body has decided I’m am so old I no longer have a need for simple little things like pigment in my hair.
The college students around my town they are not my peers anymore. No. These people could be my children. Did you hear that?!? A grown person could be my child!! As in this is actually physically, mathematically, scientifically possible. I can not deal with this and am starting a movement to remove a decade from sometime between 1978 and 2017 so that I am 29 and this is no longer an issue.
I sometimes have back problems. My thyroid is gone now (whole other issue on this nonsense). My elbow…it’s like I have tennis elbow with no tennis or like carpal tunnel of the elbow. (Is that a thing?!?!?) I am one of those people who occasionally has to warm up a few steps when I get off the couch now before I can walk completely normally. I’m just barely keeping it under panic attack right now, people.
In an effort to combat the urge to just give up and start wearing moo-moos I decided to make a list of things that are better now than when I was 20.
Because 40 is awesome. Right??
1. I do not know everything.
You know how you think you know everything when you’re a teenager but you really know nothing? Then in your twenties bills are suddenly a thing, decisions are more of a hassle than you had planned, and life just generally kinda starts kicking your butt a little and you start to wonder if maybe you don’t know everything but you probably do still know most things, right?
My 30’s is the time when reality finally started to set in and now, standing at 40’s door, I have accepted my complete ignorance to most all things.
Well this sounds like a complete letdown, you might be thinking.
It sounds that way, but it’s really a great thing because I am finally smart enough to understand I’m not so smart that I don’t have a lot to learn. As a result, I have become a better listener. Learning from other people’s mistakes is no longer a conversational cue to see how far my eyeballs will roll into my head. I enjoy hearing stories told by people who have been there and done that. Save me some trouble! Yes!
And honestly, it’s great to not be the knower of all things. It’s humbling and it alleviates a lot of pressure.
I may know nothing, but I can learn.
2. My friends are awesome-er.
When I was younger I looked forward to being an adult where everyone was mature and had their life figured out and knew how to get along with each other.
Ha. Hahahahaha. Ha. Haha.
But somehow in this giant, ugly, insane world I found a fluffy cloud with a rainbow shooting out where life really is like I imagined it to be when I was younger.
Let me tell you how awesome my friends are. They are my biggest cheerleaders. They are supportive. They are sharing, caring, encouraging balls of accepting loveliness.
My friends include married women, single women, with children, and without children. We have outgoing personalities and shy personalities, quieter voices and louder voices. All of us are different people in different places of our lives but we come together as a group. We don’t always see eye-to-eye but when there are differences we do awesome things such as act like adults and talk it out or agree to disagree. We’ve been through things together. Weddings, pregnancies, divorces, infertility, dating, job changes, births, birthdays. Life. We go on girls trips together. We laugh together. We cry together. We help each other.
‘We’ are beautiful.
3. I’m not so bad after all.
I am heavier than I want to be. My belly is rounder, my arms thicker, my thighs flabbier. My chin has a twin.
My hair is thinner than I would like. It’s as stubborn as I am and no matter how many products or tools I use simply refuses to hold a curl of any substance.
My nose is too wide.
My teeth aren’t perfectly straight.
These are all things that I have hated about myself. Things that ran on a loop through my head and caused me to feel unattractive. Imperfections that made me unloveable and unworthy.
These things are all still true, but I have recently began to understand that they do not make me unloveable or unworthy. They make me me. I am not the most beautiful woman on the planet. I do not have the most perfect figure. I don’t have the straightest teeth or the most gorgeous hair. Other women have those things.
However, I do have big, almond shaped eyes. I have pretty fingernails and pedicured feet. I wear a messy bun like a boss and I can walk under most anything without ducking.
Most importantly, at 39, I have learned that these things are not what matter. What matters is the size of my heart and how I make others feel. The size of my smile and my ability to laugh at myself and bring a smile to someone else’s face. The size of my ears and how well I am able to listen if someone needs a shoulder to cry on. The strength of my voice when a friend needs a cheerleader on the sideline. The depth of my scars and the way I have turned life’s bumps and bruises into strength, resilience, and growth.
I am not perfect, but I’m perfectly me.
4. Weekends are waaaayyyyy better.
I will tell you a secret I would have never told the people I was running with in my 20’s. I hated the bar scene. I hated the people packed in elbow to elbow, the cigarette smoke choking out the breathable oxygen, the uncomfortable clothes I wore because I wanted to be pretty and get hit on by guys, the late nights, and the sick mornings. I hated it all.
One of my most favorite perks of being 39 is that I don’t have to do that stuff anymore. My friends like to do awesome things like go to dinner or hang out in PJs at one of their houses. We get together for pool parties or football games. We all wake up the next day a little tired, but able to remember what we did and how we got home.
I can curl up in my nice, comfy bed at 8:30 every night if I want and no one looks at me like I grew a third arm. I don’t have to wear clothes that are uncomfortably tight or shoes that threaten my life or the integrity of my feet.
I can do none of those things or all of them as I choose and that. is. awesome.
5. The men are so much sexier.
From a general adult woman, I will just say there is nothing more fantastic in the world of love and marriage than seeing a man who is a faithful husband and a good, active father.
I watched a family over the weekend on the beach. The husband was a shorter man, had no butt to speak of, a belly that held the weight he’d gained since college, with a salt and pepper beard.
He was out in the water playing like a teenager in the waves. He threw the ball back and forth with two of his three kids who were young enough to make those giant throws that send the ball about 10 feet short and off to the left. He never said a word about having to fetch it.
He came onshore and I saw him laughing with his wife and another couple several times. He used a boogie board to play the drum on his belly.
I’m telling you. Sexier than any of the muscled, tanned, perfectly cut men I saw the whole weekend. I love seeing men like that who are doing life right.
6. Accountability makes life easier.
Long gone are the days when I operated on a wing and a prayer, juggling bills between paychecks, bouncing checks, and borrowing money from my mother. What a hassle!
I am not wealthy by a long shot, but by now I have learned to live mostly within my means. I have an actual system in place that gets my bills paid every month before my utilities get cut off or car gets repo-ed.
It is a wonderful thing not to juggle bills, or write a check back when you got an extra two or three days before it cleared the bank, or say a prayer before I run my debit card.
It’s not impossible for someone 30+ to find themselves in that situation, but it won’t be because I think I’m rich making $6.50 an hour and bills get paid by magical money fairies.
7. Independence is freedom.
By now I haven’t answered to someone for a long time. Being honest and straight forward, paying my own bills, and doing what I’m supposed to do in general have allowed me to lead a fairly laid back lifestyle.
What do those things have in common? They remove worry and give me a certain level of freedom. I don’t have anyone to tell me how to live my life because they pay my bills. I don’t have to worry about getting “found out” because I make every attempt to be straightforward and honest. For the most part, I do what I’m supposed to do at work and as a human so I feel like, if I did something wrong 99% of the time it’s because I made a mistake or didn’t know. And something I’ve also learned? Most mistakes are ok, forgivable, and able to be fixed.
Ok, so maybe I have a few years before going moo-moo shopping. Maybe….just maybe 40 will turn out to be the best year so far!