I just had a monumental birthday. The big 4-0. I spent the last year of my thirties trying to figure out how I was going to feel about this milestone. I won’t lie, it was scary. I knew it was supposed to arrive with all kinds of new feelings and changes. I decided early on though that I was going to be in charge, not the number. Now of course the day you turn 40 is not the actual day that the earth shifts. It is more about the progression up to 40. What takes place between these decades and how does that change who you are.
Let me help those who have yet to go through this transition. I think if you know what to expect, you won’t be nearly as prone to burst into tears when your friends surprise you with those hideous black balloons. Of course there are bad things about being 40 but there are some pretty great things too. First let’s look at the bad.
Your skin will never look 20 again. I had often pondered the aging process. Would it be so gradual that I wouldn’t notice? Would I look in the mirror one day and see my mother? It begins gently. For some reason you aren’t as happy with your favorite foundation. Why can’t they just leave some things alone? Let me break it to you, it’s not the make up. As I was bearing down on 40 I noticed my once supple skin and plump cheeks had ever so slowly thinned. My once normal skin, now always seemed to be on the dry side. Then it happened. One day I looked in the mirror and I saw a little droop in my jaw line. I was aging. Accept this now. I know you have told yourself you will never look like your grandmother. You will.
To maintain your weight you will have to eat like a bird and exercise like a horse. Ahhh the days when you could suck down a Big Mac, fries and a shake and not ever do a sit up. You still managed to look amazing in that bikini. Those days are GONE. The metabolism goes out the window. You will feel like you are surviving on lettuce and exercising every free moment, yet the scales are not moving. You buy new scales. They say the same thing. For most of us, our body will never look 20 again.
You probably take your memory for granted. You are sure going to miss it. How many times do I walk into a room and think what the heck am I doing? I make sticky note lists and put them all over the place. Now I can’t even remember where I put the darn sticky notes. Around 40 your memory will abandon you. Don’t feel bad. At least you won’t remember how supple your skin used to be.
Now that I have shared the unpleasant things, let me tell you the good. Yes, there are good things about being 40.
Your skin won’t look as good as it did at 20…..BUT that’s okay, you won’t care. I was once consumed with my appearance. I never left the house unless I was well dressed and glammed up. Now I know that I do not have to apply full makeup to run to Kroger. Younger women probably view this as letting yourself go, but one day you will understand. 40 is empowering. This is how I look today, deal with it. If you are content and fulfilled and go to Target without eyeliner, who cares? I’m not saying that we no longer like to be attractive, most of us are still girlie girls at heart. Some days we just have bigger concerns. Sometimes I even go to the school pick up line in yoga pants. Yeah. I’m a rebel like that. Your appearance is not what makes you viable.
You have lived your whole life trying to please others. There is no greater feeling than not caring what others think about your choices and decisions. You are the one who has to live with yourself. We spend a lot of our younger years trying to make others proud of us. All of the constraints that I had put on myself. You simply will never be able to please everyone. There are going to be people who don’t like you for no good reason. You can’t concern yourself with this. If you are living your true self, those who love you will be there.
At 40 you start to trim the fat so to speak. You only want to surround yourself with those people who lift you up and add value to your life. If you have a best friend that has been with you through thick and thin, for heaven’s sake, squeeze her hard. She is one of life’s greatest treasures.
Last but not least you start to learn to love yourself. Everyone has struggles and issues. We strive to be the best in every area: the skinniest, the prettiest, the smartest, the kindest, the most organized. You are going to fail and fall short. At 40 you start to focus on the positive. What do I actually like about myself? Instead of beating ourself up, celebrate the good. I am kind. I am non-judgemental. I am compassionate to people who struggle. Go ahead, make your list.
At 40 I feel different. I won’t lie and say I don’t get scared or down at times. Aging is hard. Life is about the seasons. It is a journey. You are meant to grow and change. What lessons do you need to learn? What lessons do you need to teach? Value your relationships because they are the true measure of wealth. Stop and listen to people when they talk. 40 teaches you to slow down. You have been in such a hurry, but why? You are missing so many beautiful things along the way.
Forty has been life changing for me. One example, I turned forty and realized that I enjoy writing. I never knew. I am only now starting to learn who I am. And I gotta say, I like the 40-year-old version of me. She is pretty okay.