I’m 40. Tomorrow. I am so excited about this I have been thinking what to write in this post for weeks, months maybe.
Let me explain. Being 39 has been awful. When I tell people I am 39, they suck the air in through their teeth, or raise an eyebrow, or act superior/highly amused at the thought that I am significantly older than them. It is very dull, that everyone thinks they are being so amusing, and that I’m somehow deeply traumatised by the idea that I’m going to hit this milestone. When I am finally 40, tomorrow, and they revert back to saying things like ‘really? wow I wouldn’t have said you were that old,’ like they did when I was 38, I will take great pleasure in saying, hand on heart, ‘well I am, and you know what? It’s F*CKING FANTASTIC.’
Because honestly, I really think that it is. I had a somewhat hedonistic decade between 20 and 30 which was, well, just about the most fun ever, but didn’t really amount to much (that I can remember). I had a life-changing decade between 30 and 40, where I got married, had a child, moved country, found my calling after a couple of false starts, and generally became a responsible adult. It was eventful, and quite fun, but a lot of hard work. Entering this new decade, I feel like I might be starting to appreciate how to be a grown woman, finally. A proper 21st Century woman who has her sh*t together and intends to make the most of it.
I thought I was a woman once before, in my 20s. But now I see it was more a heady cocktail of ignorance and arrogance served with a large splash of over confidence, a paper umbrella and a straw. As I’m approaching 40, I finally understand: it takes a whole lifetime to become a woman, and I’m really only just off my training wheels. The apprenticeship I’ve served so far has given me a sense of self and confidence I could never possibly have achieved in my youth, built from a solid foundation of experience, and learning from some really bad mistakes. Now, at 40, I really do care about the important things in life: family, friends, health, home, career, education, travel, happiness; spending time doing meaningful things; spending time with people who have sound values, sparkling wit, and wisdom I can admire and emulate; making friends and keeping friends who have the same sort of love for me as I do for them. I really don’t care about much else; in fact, I couldn’t give a toss about anything or anyone that isn’t on that list. Least of all turning 40.
Because while this decade might bring challenges of it’s own (I’ve already started checking round the room when it feels a bit warm to make sure I’m not the only one with glowing cheeks), I am healthier, happier, and look and feel way, waaaay better than I did a decade ago. And there are aspects to my life that fulfil me that I didn’t even dream of two decades ago. I have a family. I have a wonderful life that I worked hard for, and continue to work hard for. I love the idea of my future. I am looking forward, looking onward, figuring out how to make life the best it can be from now on in. I am optimistic that finally, this is my time, when my life is in balance and I can invest in myself in a way I haven’t done before. I’m not the only one. I look around at my forty-something peers and I see transformations taking place everywhere, as they blossom and bloom and mature as wives, parents, in their careers, and most importantly, as individuals. I’m exceptionally pleased and proud to be joining them.
So happy birthday to me. I’m over the hill. Fabulous and forty. Life begins.