I’ve put off writing this post because I knew it was going to be a challenge. But seeing as today is the last day of 2016, I guess I don’t have a choice.
2016 was the year I turned 40. (Note to self: The Year I Turned 40 would make a great book title.)
40 hasn’t been that easy. And not for the reasons you may think.
Sure, it’s not that fun to find the random gray hairs that have snuck in or to notice that it’s much harder to lose weight now. And don’t even get me started about those little wrinkles that have appeared around my eyes.
But coming to terms with 40 has been hard and it has nothing to do with the physical aspects of being four decades old.
Frankly, I’ve never felt better. In fact, I don’t feel 40. I feel like I should still be 25. Sometimes it shocks me to realize how old I am. I remember my parents at 40 and I thought they were super-old grownups who had it all figured out. Now I know the truth!
40 has been the year when I no longer care what people think. This year while my husband and I were in Mexico, I opted NOT to wear my swim skirt cover up over my bathing suit. That skirt has been a beach staple of mine since I was 25. Yep. You know what? It felt great. I spent years feeling self-conscious because shudder what if someone saw cellulite on my hips? HA.
At 40, I laugh in the face of cellulite.
It’s also been the year that I realized I’m more than my job. I’m a classic workaholic, I’ll admit it. I’ve let my career define me for the past decade or more. No more. This year, I’ve left work behind on multiple occasions without even a smidge of the guilt that would have plagued me before. Friday afternoon? I’m done. Vacation? Two vacations in 2016 and I didn’t log on to work once. That may seem silly to some, but it’s a big accomplishment for me.
At 40, I realize that work is not the most important thing. There can be other jobs, but you can’t get back the moments you’ve lost.
It’s been the year I’ve become comfortable in my own skin. I am who I am. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I don’t want/need to improve on, but overall, I’m no longer apologetic for my “quirks.” I am introverted in a way many don’t understand. Large groups—even my family whom I love—give me anxiety. I have learned what I can and cannot handle. Sometimes that means I leave a family function early. I used to feel terrible about it. Now I realize that it’s better to just be me, even if it means I retreat to the silence of my own home after a few hours of togetherness.
At 40, I finally understand that sometimes I have to take care of myself and that makes it so that I’m better able to care for others.
It’s been the year that I’ve had to face the idea of life without loved ones. For whatever reason, 40 has been the year when I’ve been gripped with the fear of losing my parents, husband, and family members. There are nights when I wake up and can’t go back to sleep because I’m terrified of what a life without them would be. There are no answers here—I suspect we all go through it. I may appear to be a grownup adult, but there are many moments DAILY when I need my mom or my dad.
At 40, I see that life is so short. When you’re young you think you have all the time in the world. At this point, I realize that time really is the most precious currency, and I have to make the most of it.
Here are a few other gems I’ve learned at 40:
Good and true friends are some of God’s biggest blessings.
So are good dogs.
High heels aren’t always worth it. Sometimes it’s more important to be comfortable.
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep and a good cup of coffee.
A clean house really does make a difference in your quality of life.
Some days you need to call in sick and stay in bed and binge watch TV all day. It may not be productive but it is such a treat.
Spending time with people who make you laugh will make you feel at least ten years younger.
Prayer changes you. If you have an issue with someone, pray for them. Daily. It will make a difference.
If a movie, TV show, or book has something in it you don’t like or approve of, remove yourself. Walk out of the theater. Change the channel. Put it back on the shelf. Life is too short. I don’t like violence or bad language. I’ve finally, finally realized that It’s MY choice not to see or hear it.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. No good can come of it.
And there you have it. My “turning 40” post. I’ve watched my friends turn 40 this year and it’s been weird because when I see them, I still see cheerleaders and football players and people I laughed with in the dorm. Seeing them at 40, adults, parents, businesspeople…it’s kind of shocking. I spent a lot of time earlier in the year wondering where the time went.
But now that I’ve come to terms with 40, I know where the time went. We were all living life, experiencing moments both good and bad. That’s what brought us to now.
And I’m suddenly looking forward to 50 because I can look back and honestly say that life has gotten better with each passing year.
What a gift that is.
Happy 2017, friends!
Some “turning 40” photos: