It was my birthday and I was turning 40. In the months following up to my big day, I did have the occasional harrowing thought: “Whoa, 40? That sounds awfully like middle age!” Or: “Shouldn’t I have been somebody by now?”
Even my well-wishers somehow seemed to forget to wish me well and went straight to: “So, how do you feel?” “Are you ok with it?”. One, admittedly much younger, friend asks: “So is this when menopause starts?”
You’d have thought I had just come down with a permanent disease rather than reached another milestone. Sure I took stock, asked myself where to from here? Did I pursue my dreams or give up too soon? But I also thought, do I want to go back to 30? 20? Absolutely not! Truth be told, I felt relieved in many ways. Here are some of my best reasons why:
1. At 40, looking younger than Miley Cyrus when she was still Hanna Montana is not an accomplishment, it’s a race without a finish line.
2. Life is not about how much we have achieved but how much we have survived and still emerged optimists.
3. Younger women are not necessarily happier women.
4. A change of scenery may take us around the world. A change of attitude at any age takes us anywhere.
5. Comparing ourselves to that female CEO, with 3 kids and 5 published books is absurd. Just because somebody is female, my age, shares other similarities with me, does not make her ME, or a more perfect version of me. We each have our own path.
6. All that talk of the pursuit of happiness has us constantly looking to the future, or yearning for apparently happier days long gone. In the meantime, we’ve turned 40, life continues minute for minute without our presence. Let’s stay here and enjoy!
7. If it is change we struggle with, let’s stop and think: how often did I end up feeling grateful for that change? Possibly more often than not.
8. If we can’t laugh about it now, wait. Try again when you’re 40.
9. Mom is always right, especially at 40.
10. We’ve made tons of mistakes, we’ll make tons more. Don’t explain. Don’t apologize. We’re 40-something now. We own this.