This post was most recently updated on September 23rd, 2019
Did you guess it from the title?
Yep. Me. 40 plus one. As in: four decades plus one year.
I know, I know – you’d nevvvver say it by looking at me, would you? ;-)
Last year, I didn’t write anything about turning 40, which seems a more logical milestone for writing something like this. But, I ignored the entire thing. As in: pretended in never happened. ‘Cause I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22. Plus, my 40th birthday wasn’t inspiring. I wanted so badly to write a kickass article about turning 40 like the ones I’ve read in recent years. But I had complete writer’s block. Turning 40 just sucked my creativity up through a straw.
But I did write about turning 39 the year before. If I recall, I think I said 39 was a slimy monster that creeps up behind you and shouts boo in your face. Yah, so I wasn’t really a fan of 39 either. LOL. You can find that post here, if you’d like to hear how I really felt about my 39th birthday: 39: The Creepy-Creeper Birthday.
I hate admitting that I had a hard time with turning 40. It’s a little embarrassing that I told friends not to give me a card with “Look who’s turning 40″or the like…just a simple Happy Birthday would suffice, thank you very much. Other 40 year olds I know accepted turning 40 much more gracefully than I did. Looking back, it seems a little selfish of me, given that growing older is an opportunity not everybody gets – and this hard truth has hit closer to home in recent years than I’d like.
But now that I’m 41, I think I’ve finally gotten the “I hate turning 40” pity party out of my system. Listen, I’m still not crazy about the fact that I’ll never ever go back to my 20s or 30s. And, frankly, I’m a little confused about where those decades went so fast? I’d seriously trade a month’s supply of expensive fine line serum, a box of nasal strips, and a heating pad for just one more university party. Despite my yearning for a little more Right Said Fred, I finally have some appreciation for what this new decade has to offer. I know this partly because I can finally listen to the Five for Fighting song “100 Years” without curling up into the fetal position and bawling my eyes out.
So, for what it’s worth, there are some things about turning 40 (or in my case 41) that don’t actually suck. In fact, these 5 things kinda rock.
1. You can give advice. At 41, the School of Hard Knocks qualifies you for at least a Bachelor’s degree in Advice Giving. (The Masters comes at 60!) It’s been said that there’s wisdom in your 40s, and I think this is true. This isn’t to say I have all the answers. Far from it. But at 41, you’ve had enough experience to understand there’s actually very little in life that isn’t, at least, survivable. Sure, there’ve been events in my life that have changed me. But at 41, I can look back and see that the world didn’t implode because of them, and I still got up each day and put one foot in front of the other. And if you’ve been lucky enough to get to 41 without any major life trauma, chances are you’ve seen close friends go through it (illness, divorce, layoffs, bankruptcies, etc.) and live to tell about it. In your 40s you begin to understand that sayings like ‘time heals all wounds‘ and ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger‘ aren’t as cliche as you once thought. With this wisdom comes a certain calmness that, in time, ‘every little thing is going to be ok.’
2. You know who your true friends are. At 41, that fuzzy line that existed in your 20s and 30s between ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ can be drawn with laser precision. By now, you’ve weeded out the fairweather friends, the posers and the double crossers. And, truthfully, you’ve probably been weeded out too. (By those who couldn’t handle your sheer awesomeness, of course!). At 41, you understand that it is perfectly normal to have a social circle of which only a handful are your true peeps. You might not have as many friends as you did in your 20s (and, no, Facebook doesn’t count), but there’s comfort in finally understanding who your true friends are. True friends don’t care if you’ve had a bad day, if you’ve been incognito for months, if your house is a mess. They are the ones who like you just the way you are, no matter how imperfect you may be.
3. Let your freak flag fly. At 41, you no longer need acceptance from others to feel good about yourself. You start to feel comfortable in your own shoes – which, btw, at 41, just happen to be ballet flats more often than platforms. You no longer feel the need to be someone you’re not, on the inside or out. Keeping up with every trend, fad diet, or the
Jones’ Kardashians, just seems like a lot of effort that could be better spent watching The Good Wife. So please excuse me if you see me in my boot cut jeans today instead of colour pop skinnies, or if I’m not wearing make up (gasp!), or if I haven’t ombre-ed my hair or painted my nails or lost the last 20lbs of baby weight. I did in fact read In Style this month. I just chose not to care. At 41, I’m OK with being me.
4. Do what you love. At 41, you have the wisdom to finally start living your passion . When you are in your 20s and 30s, time seems infinite. So you feel totally OK with wasting it, or spending it doing things that don’t really make you happy. After all, there’s always some day. It’s easy to tuck away your dreams and passions in your back pocket to focus on a career or a family. But, at 41, you begin to realize that some day isn’t that far away. Time really does fly. Why waste it doing something that makes you unhappy? I understand that the mortgage needs to get paid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take that watercolour class you’ve been dreaming of, or train for a half marathon, or make all 524 recipes from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year (gosh I loved that movie) if that’s what floats your boat. I have an MBA, for goodness sake, and here I am writing a blog about – of all things – decorating.
5. You know what’s important in life. At 41, you realize that the treadmill sucks. OK, not the literal treadmill – although that one can suck too – but the figurative one. I just love how Zosia Mamet (from The Girls) summed this all up in a fab blog article on Glamour.com recently. She said:
We are so obsessed with “making it” these days we’ve lost sight of what it means to be successful on our own terms. As women we have internalized the idea that every morning we wake up, we have to go for the f–king gold. You can’t just jog; you have to run a triathlon. Having a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and heading to work isn’t enough—that’s settling, that’s giving in, that’s letting them win. You have to wake up, have a cup of coffee, conquer France, bake a perfect cake, take a boxing class, and figure out how you are going to get that corner office or become district supervisor, while also looking damn sexy—but not too sexy, because cleavage is degrading—all before lunchtime. Source: www.Glamour.com, Zosia Mamet
Um, just reading that exhausts me. Yaaaaawn. Sure, at 41, we all still have responsibilities. But all that other garbage doesn’t matter any more. After chasing your tail for 20 years, you can now prioritize the things that really matter. At 41, you have enough wisdom to know the difference between real and superficial success. The fancy title or corner office, while nice, aren’t nearly as important as health and happiness. And, I would not trade one moment of staying home with our 3 beautiful kids these past few years, even though it meant stalling my career to do so. After a crazy whirlwind of diapers and spit up and highchairs and minivans, we are now entering new territory in our family’s life – a safe little pocket between raging toddlers and raging hormones. And, I want to soak it up. Sure, I have other goals I’m going to work on too, but I’ll leave “conquering France” off the list for awhile.
OK, so maybe turning 40 / 41 isn’t so bad after all.
So are you 41 yet?
Do you have any other insight about turning 40?
Until next time,
Jamie Worman says
Great post! I’m not 40 yet but will be someday and things like this make me look forward to what lies ahead. I really like the one about chasing your dreams. I’m at a crossroad with my career and that makes perfect sense and putting it off is exactly what I have been doing.