It's my 41st birthday, friends. I've been in my 40's for a whole year now. Have I gained any wisdom? I don't know, but I've certainly learned a few things. Turns out, being 40 is actually pretty awesome.
For most of my 39th year, I fretted about turning 40. My mom died when she was only 48, so it felt entirely possible that the end of my life could be approaching. Having a 4 at the start of your age seemed so much older than a 3. People still accomplish things in their 30s. People in their 40s are supposed to be settled, stable, normal.
I didn't really feel like any of those things. My job, while decent, was a dead end. I felt broke all the time. I worried that being 40 would change things. Turns out, like most things I worried about, it was no big deal.
On being 40
Considering the fact that when I was 30 I completely blew up my life, I guess I actually was pretty settled and stable at 40. I'm married to a man who absolutely treasures me. He's someone I definitely wouldn't want to live without. I have confidence in my relationship, and I know how special that is.
I know myself better than I ever have before. I've set boundaries around my life and my energy that serve me and allow me to sleep at night. And while I have yet to completely break the habit of stressing about money, I actually feel like we'll be okay financially. That's a big deal.
And now that I feel all stable and settled, I can finally start thinking about what makes me feel most fulfilled. I've developed a spiritual practice that was completely absent for most of my 30s. I've realized it's actually fine to focus on myself. And guess what. I'm much happier.
Old Lady Advice
Most of my friends are much younger than me, and I find myself constantly giving them lots of unsolicited "old lady" advice. Here are a few things I wish I had known when I was younger.
- It's okay to say no, even at work. Protect your energy. Energy is everything.
- If you're not getting paid, don't work late. Your energy and expertise have value, and you should be compensated for them.
- Just go to dance class. You can probably still keep up with those college kids, and even if you can't, who cares.
- It will always feel awesome when someone says you look 27.
- Wear sunscreen every damn day.
- Getting carded at the bar eventually just becomes annoying.
- If you want to change something in your life, just do it. You don't need anyone's permission.
- With a few exceptions, you're never too old to start something new.
- Going to bed early with a stack of books is actually what all the cool kids are doing.
- Napping is the new black.
- Find the thing that makes you feel connected to the Universe. If that thing happens to be witchcraft, even cooler.
- Consider an item's value and cost, not just its price. Buy things you love that will last.
- Don't waste your time on people who don't respect you. Be polite, but don't be a pushover.
- Always keep ice cream in your freezer.
- Most of the things you are worrying about right now are no big deal. Let it go.
- You're going to make mistakes. Apologize, and most importantly, forgive yourself.
- You don't need to do anything to be enough. You are already enough.
I've enjoyed being 40, and I'm excited to see what I can accomplish in the next 10 years. I know who I am and what I want, and I'm less and less hungry for approval with every passing year. Yeah, I have some wrinkles, and I can't move as quickly as I used to. It's worth it to know that I am worthy of love. It may have taken me longer than some other people to get where I've gotten in life, but what I've learned at 40 is that it takes as long as it takes.
It's a kinder, gentler world at 40. I'm loving it, despite the previous fretting. Aging is a privilege denied to many. I plan to do my best to enjoy every day. I hope you do, too.