I decided at 27 that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life hating that I was getting older. I remember my mother being 28 for four years when I was a little girl, and I know many people that dread their next birthday and lie about their age (including men!). I did not want to spend the rest of my life fighting against the inevitable. So, at 27, I set an intention that “I will look forward to and celebrate wholeheartedly each and every decade that came my way – no matter what.”
This has worked pretty well so far. As my 30th birthday approached, I felt excited and grateful for my age. I found myself looking forward to what my 30s would bring. What was in store for the next 10 years? How would my life change? What new friends would I make and where was my career going? What volunteer opportunities would I become involved in? What new countries would I visit? (All good things by the way and a marriage to the love of my life.)
As my 40th birthday was approaching, I received quite a few concerning stares and pitying head shakes when people found out how old I was going to be. Seriously! I once shared in a circle of colleagues that I really loved aging and was looking forward to getting older and, I tell you, the moans were audible! Out of about 35 people, only one said that she agreed with me (she’s in her 70s now and as fierce af). One lovely woman actually said to me, “Well, it’s all downhill from here I’m afraid.” And sometimes I heard, “You’re only 40? I wish I could be 40 again. I hate getting old.”
Why do we do this to ourselves and each other?? Why do we lament with such sorrow when someone else ages one more year and then prophesize the worst for them? I promise, if we meet, I’m not going to look at you and dump all of my age-shame on you and tell you that you have nothing to look forward to anymore. Life is just too amazing for that bullshit, so stop it.
It’s clear I was hearing other people’s fear of aging, and I also know that my beliefs about aging will have a significant impact on my future. I’ve kept the promise I made to myself. I don’t carry fear about getting older, and I don’t feel shame when someone asks my age. I’ve earned these 43 years on this planet, and I’m going to enjoy them.
Here’s my list of why I love my 40s (in no particular order), and why I’m pretty sure I’ll love being 50 and beyond:
1. I continue to get better with age. I find with each year that passes, I become a better person, a better version of myself. Dare I say even a more truer version of myself. I’m more thoughtful, more kind, more patient, more confident. I’m not saying I don’t make mistakes! I certainly do and am far from being the perfect human being, whatever that is. But I learn from my mistakes more quickly and judge myself less and less for the things I do that are off track. I’m not so hard on myself anymore and the wisdom inside (and that does in fact come with age by the way) encourages me to challenge myself in greater ways, to keep pushing my edge. After years of personal work, I can see that I’ll always be a work in progress, and I enjoy seeing how my life is unfolding and who I’m becoming.
2. Things bug me less. I’m not the person you’ll hear say, “This world is going to hell” or “This country sucks.” (I admit, it’s been hard since the election but I’m trying.) This doesn’t mean that I bury my head in the sand; I take the view of, “Ok, so what can I do about this that actually helps and doesn’t add to it?”
3. My family rocks, and I have made and kept amazing friends! One of the benefits of maturity and experience is that I recognize pretty quickly people who don’t add loving to my life. My fam is just right for me and I couldn’t ask for a better husband or kiddo. And friends come and go. Some people are in our lives to add something to it for a certain period of time and then they leave. At times this is sad and other times it’s a relief. I am truly blessed to have such a good group of people that I call friends that my heart is always full. I surround myself with low-drama folks that love me. Quite a difference from when I was in my 20s!
4. I really like me and getting to know myself is a fun process. This wasn’t always so, and I struggled for years with self-loathing and making poor choices with my life. Time and a lot of personal work has given me a different perspective of who I am. I can’t do everything that I admire in others, but I have strengths that make me unique. I don’t have to live with labels that I believed when I was younger. I can always reinvent who I want to be, try new things, change my mind, start a new habit – you get the idea!
5. I’m now loving my body. I’m not what you’d call traditionally beautiful, and I love the way I am. I’ve started taking care of myself in a more consistent way. I make time for this and prioritize this time over money or other obligations. I may have some aches and pains now and then and instead of thinking, “Getting older sucks” I thank my body for how hard it works for me, and I try to take care of it better. This year in particular, I’ve started eating cleaner and training regularly. I’ve learned how taking care of my body has an immediate effect on how I’m feeling.
6. It’s ok if not everyone likes me. Not much else to say about this – I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m good with that.
7. I used to say that I wasn’t born with the “girly” gene – for example, I don’t wear make up much and hate shopping, can’t stand Grey’s Anatomy . . . (I know). And please don’t invite me to a goddess group. I’ve been made fun of in the past for this by other women. But now I love my nerdy, well-balanced masculine and feminine me.
8. I’ve forgiven myself for a lot of the bullshit that I’ve done and the pain I’ve invited into my life. I’ve had a lot to make peace with will continue to do so.
9. I don’t look back. I don’t pine for the 80s, nor do I wish I was 25 again. I have no regrets.
10. I’m less afraid to speak up and speak my mind. I used to worried about what others would think of me. My 40s have given me permission to say what I’m thinking with honesty, kindness, and consideration.
And this is only 43! Can’t wait to see what else awaits! Comments are welcome!