So I turned 40 in March. I knew it was coming. Something like that doesn’t exactly sneak up on you. You’re aware.
I’ve heard people get all philosophical about “age is just a number” and “you’re only as old as you feel”. I know many, many people who lie about their age, or just pick one that they like and stick with that forever.
I’m not all that philosophical and I don’t go in for pithy sayings or Stuart Smalley-esque affirmations. But I’m here to tell you something:
I totally would not lie to you. Not about this.
See, I have a theory. I developed this theory ten years ago when I turned 30. Somehow the turning of a new decade in my age gave me a lot of freedom that I wasn’t expecting. It meant starting anew, at the beginning of a new set of numbers. I no longer had to fit into my idea of what the previous set of numbers had been- I’d outgrown them and passed them by. The new numbers were unwritten. A vast, empty space, waiting to be filled with whatever I chose.
Blank, clear, free. Up to me.
Here’s my Top Ten List of what rocks about 40:
10) I have 40 years of experience in screwing up. It’s no big deal anymore.
9) I have 40 years of experience in figuring out what I like. That’s awesome! Do you have any idea what a time-saver that is?
8) I give a shit about my health. More than a shit, actually, I care a great deal. I eat on the healthy side, have little interest in chemically preserved/highly processed anything, do not actively put toxins (including chemical recreation) into my body anymore, take those damn supplements the doc had been suggesting the past five years, and I exercise. Very little gives me greater pleasure than standing in a Bikram yoga class next to some perky co-ed who was out partying all night and watching her go green down on the mat while I’m solid, holding standing bow. Take that, size zero.
7) I’m not above being petty when it amuses me (see above).
6) I don’t spend much time trying to figure out how everything’s going to work out anymore. My god, I used to make myself crazy with that. It’s far more interesting to just do the next right thing in front of me and let it all unfold as it will. All my worrying and trying to guess what comes next never affected the rising of the sun or the pull of the tides.
5) Less drama. He said/she said, I’m gonna do this to make him/her jealous, I’m gonna do that to make so and so think such and such. . . I have no interest anymore.
4) I’m finally good at my job. God knows I’ve been doing it long enough.
3) I know the value of a good cry and a day in bed with a bag of cookies.
2) I appreciate and can accept my family of origin just as they are. By this point, I don’t expect them to change much. They would probably say the same about me. But they’ll have to get their own blog.
1) I’m still not as old as my car, nor will I ever be.
Disclaimer: I am not 40 in the pictures below, I’m. . .32? But those are the only pictures of me and Miss Lucy.
Here’s a picture of me being 40. I’m pretty much the same, just. . . forty-er.
I’m looking forward to testing my theory with each new decade I reach. But I’m in no rush.
I’d love to hear the number one thing that rocks about the age you are right now.
I was lucky enough to have multiple birthday celebrations, which I’ll be writing about this week (yes, I’m totally milking it).
39 thoughts on “40. Bring it.”
I’m 25 and the best part about it is having no real responsibilities! I quit my job in Atlanta 2 years ago and moved to India to work in development, specifically education for the poor. A year ago, I switched to healthcare and now I help to build hospitals. I loved #6, your point about how you don’t worry about how it’ll all work out anymore. India has taught me a lot about learning to go where life leads you and I’m grateful to have learned it young. Congratulations on being 40, I’m quite jealous of your car and I love your blog!
Having no real responsibilities sounds excellent. And yet, I can’t help but notice you being all responsible with social reform in India. That’s awesome. Enjoy the hell out of 25!
Just 5 minutes before I got the email that you had a new post up I checked out your blog, wondering where you’ve been. I guess you’ve been milking that 40th. Anyway, Happy Birthday and welcome to the decade where you finally get to feel comfortable in your own skin. Never mind that it may be wrinkling a bit. The number one thing that rocks about my age, and now that I am almost exactly one year away from a whole new set of numbers, is that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. Unless I want. 50. Bring It. (Well, give me another year)
I love that feeling of not having to prove anything anymore.
Absolutely, positively LOVE this! I had exactly the same type of revelation at 30 – the breakthrough to a fresh new decade, the feeling that the world just cracked open and offered up a whole new life to check out – but 40 was more of a blur of work and travel and getting married. All wonderful, but not exactly freeing. No fancy reset button. And now, this. My new manifesto! You rock yet again! Thank you so very much. 🙂
Best thing about your 50’s? Well, post menopause actually. You don’t feel the need to fliter everything you think, do or say. Very freeing, but sometimes comes off a bit blunt. But you don’t give a rip. Not in that “fuck-you” kind of way, but more like a Secret Society, “Sorry you just don’t get it” kind of way. Think: Fried Green Tomatoes and the parking lot scene. Perfect! Clearly, you’re going to age well. Kudos!
I love that. Even more to look forward to!
Clearly, you are rocking this 40 thing! I love what rontuaru said about the 50’s. However, I think I came out the womb “a bit blunt.” Tawanda lives!
Julie, I love you; I miss you and I know you are going to have fun in your 40’s. It’s a very liberating time of our lives. Enjoy it, embrace it, and have fun with the size 0s on the mat!
I’ve been sort of excited to turn 40 in another couple of years and now I have even more reasons. One of them being that car. It’s complementary on your birthday, right?
Yes, yes it is. If it doesn’t show up in your driveway on the day of, feel free to be angry at your significant other.
I felt the same when I turned 30. Suddenly I was a woman over thirty, not just a girl in her twenties. Plus (so far) I love the look on folk’s faces when they learn I’m older than they think I am.
I enjoy that look too. Although I don’t get it nearly as often as I used to :-).
I’m 30 this year…and a career changer. The best part of my year so far has been the realization that I am totally and completely myself when I interview for new jobs (side note: terrifying…I know…since you actually know me). I don’t feel like I have to be perfect, or someone else, or whoever they are looking for. I am just me. Take it or leave it, people. Not only does it feel great, but it seems to work for me. I got a job. Never mind that I had to give it up because of pregnancy problems. Which brings me to another enlightening realization…I can’t control the universe…no matter how hard I try. I’m actually not that good with this one…but maybe by the time I’m 40 I will have accepted it. One step (or decade) at a time, right? 🙂
I’ve never met anyone who was once a stage manager who was even a little bit interested in not trying to control the universe 🙂 You’re right where you’re supposed to be.
At 45 I am the happiest I have ever been as an adult! I couldn’t agree more with your list however if I intend to lie in bed all day crying my pity food of choice is Fritos!
Chili cheese or plain? With or without dip?
You’re old. 🙂
(I turn 40 shortly as well.)
Rockin it as always, Julie.
Resistance is futile!
Before I read all the comments from the *ahem* younger set, I agree that my 40s have been awesome. And I’m almost halfway through! I have a tip: don’t be afraid of trying something new if the *cough* laugh lines start to get you down. Also, I tack on five years. Why? Because I look good for 44, but I am amazing for 49. Just sayin’. Save that for one of those “bag of cookies in bed day.” 😉
Happy belated b’day to you. For reals.
Ooh, I love your idea, Renee. From now on I will tell myself I look fantastic for 50!
Totally brilliant suggestion. I’m going to work that starting next year.
I’ve got fifteen years on you and if you think 40 rocks, wait until you hit 50! One of my favorite things to do now is go to a club (if they let me in) and dance my ass off and just have a blast with my friends. No longer wondering if some cute guy will want to dance with me because I’ve got an awesome husband waiting for me at home. (He hates dance clubs…gets grouchy when people bump into him.)
Maybe you can teach me how to dance.
“age is just a number” Well that’s certainly the the belief of those with lower numbers. I remember reading about those people in Caucuses or Steppes eastern Europe or sw Russia where they live (allegedly)115-120. The interviewer asked one ancient fellow what he would choose having one wish . The man said he would give anything to be 70 again !
Ah, perspective. That’s very cool!
One of the biggest things I’ve come to terms with is that my 43 year old body will never look 23 again. The best part about this is that my husband has seen my 20-something body, my 30-something body, and now my 40-something body…and he continues to tell me that I am sexy and beautiful. Getting older brings a depth of understanding to relationships that is missing in our younger years. I’m grateful for every wrinkle that made me the woman I am today.
Beautiful- thanks for sharing that!
This list is amazing! I love being the age that I am, just because I’ve earned it over the years prior. 😀 Happy 40th and may you rock at it, just as you have in the past. A great attitude is better than anything else out there.
I like that- we’ve totally earned this age!
Awesome post. Love your photos, you are gorgeous! I agree with everything you said. Especially not falling for drama and actually giving a shit about your health.
The number one thing that rocks about being in my 40s? I am closing in on my 42nd bday in a few months and I find that I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of me anymore. This is HUGE. Completely transformed my way of thinking and enjoying life.
Happy belated bday and I hope you’re enjoying the hell out of your extended celebration!
I just resubscribed to your blog as I haven’t been getting yours in my reader, I hope this works…
I love that! What freedom, right? Rock on, sister.
Congratulations on the first 40! And I love Carls comments, above by the guy who said “I wish I were in my 70’s again”. Can you imagine? The somewhat disputed oldest man on record was Thomas Par, who supposedly lived to age 152 and was burried in Westminster Abbey. But they think maybe he lied about his age and used his grandfathers birth records to trick people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Tom_Parr
The longest living woman was Jeanne Calment of Arles, France, who passed at age 122 in 1997. She met Van Gogh when she was 12.
The only good thing I can say about the accumulation of years for me is surrendering. Otherwise, well, a whole lot of just ((shrugging)). I should have very powerful delts and lats by now. But don’t.
I am positive that by the time you’re 112 you’ll be able to lift small cars with your shrugging muscles. Speaking of weightlifting, have you seen Ernestine Shepherd? http://ernestineshepherd.net/ Age 74 last year, oldest female competitive body builder in 2010. Didn’t start body building until age 56.
Wow! How inspirationsal…Thanks, I’ll check out that link 🙂
Hey, I’d milk the whole 40 think too if I could! Unfortunately, I’m going to wait three years and totally milk the whole 60 thing!
Loved your 5 and 4 – agree totally with those two in particular. Takes us a long time to accept we AFRE good at our jobs, doesn’t it?
Finally – Congratulations on reaching such a milestone. Live life and be grateful we live in countries where the life expectancy (if we don’t kill ourselves with over-eating) actually gives us many more to come!