This year I have been doing something I have never done before. I have caught myself interjecting my age into sentences and various conversations. Age has never been something that has bothered me. In fact, in the past when someone has asked me my age I have even had to stop and think about it for a minute because I often say the age I am going to be instead of the age I am. So what's the new obsession with my age? Well in one week I am about to turn forty.
Yep, that's right. The BIG 4-0.
Now I have heard about people my age, male and female, that have done things ranging from spending the day crying under the covers in bed & refusing to talk to anyone, to having a major midlife crisis, to shrugging it off and not really acknowledging it at all. I will say this, most people at least say at some point, "Wow, I can't believe I am going to be forty."
I think the reason for the big forty awakening is because you are hit with a number of things when you turn or are about to turn forty. For example, Like most people, my friends are constantly posting pictures of their kids on Facebook. The disturbing thing about that is that instead of the cute baby's first steps videos or look who lost her first tooth pictures, the photos are of children graduating from high school or heading off to college, or (gulp*) of their babies having babies which makes my friends officially grandparents. Aren't grandparents supposed to be little, old, cute gray haired people that are always handing out candy or giving you a quarter? And the fact that my friends' children are heading off to school makes me realize one thing - their kids are now as old (or in many cases older) than the age I was when I first met their mother or father. Eeeeek!
Besides my friends having offspring that are old enough to drink and have kids, the other forty realization that slaps me in the face is that forty seems to be the age when you are really viewed as an adult. Yes, it's cute that we call 18 year olds adults, and allow people to officially drink and buy their own alcohol at 21 because they are adults, and you even get a break in your car insurance when you hit the big 2-5. But forty is the age when you are expected to really have your shit together.
According to societies' standards, by forty you should be married, have your career in full swing, and your family well underway, have stability, and saved at least half of your retirement. And well, all of this makes me more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Hmmmm, let's see how I stack up:
Married - check!
Divorced - check! (Ok, that wasn't on the list, but hey! look at me Bonus Accomplishment! Plus they kind of go hand in hand)
Career - Which one? Still trying to find that perfect fit.
Family - Do dogs and cats count? I had my tubes tied so I guess I can check that off, right?
Stability - I pay my bills , if you call that stable. However, one bad illness and I could end up on the street living in a cardboard box with my dogs and cats...but it would be a stable box.
Retirement - Ha! Can't even fathom that. My last long term investment was in my 1997 Toyota Corolla because I knew it would save me money on gas. Between my divorce and the Recession (you know, the one they say we never had), coupled with a few unexpected surgeries, my bank account pretty much consists of dust. Seriously, when I get my statement for my savings account from my bank it says, "Balance: HAHAHAHA! P.S. When are you going to get started on this?"
Like most people, it seems every time I start to get ahead, something happens like my car needs brakes, or I get a rock to the windshield, or my uterus tries to implode. You know, normal every day things that seem to keep me from getting on my feet and ahead of the game. It's frustrating when there seem to be obstacles at every turn. So instead of beating myself up for where I should be, I'm going to try to think about the things I've done, learned, and most of all, overcome.
At 40 I have:
Graduated high school and completed some college;
Survived a major accident;
Overcome (for the most part), several health issues that would have sidelined most people;
Written 2 books that were both published;
Owned a record label, pizzeria, Italian restaurant, horse farm, and recycling business;
Found hobbies I thoroughly enjoy (painting and writing);
Lived in 3 different states;
Experienced marriage...and even better, experienced divorce :)
Learned what I do and don't want in a partner and that I am perfectly comfortable being single too;
Made lifelong friends that I wouldn't trade for anything;
Understand the difference between friends you can count on & friends that are just fun friends;
Learned blood doesn't make you family. Loyalty does - that's why some friends are family.
Acknowledged that if I have to fight to keep someone in my life, they probably don't deserve to be there;
Learned to never take advice or care about the opinion of someone that I don't respect;
Saved or given a home to some incredible animals;
Traveled (not as much as I'd like, but I am still fortunate enough to have done some travelling);
Learned my clothing size has nothing to do with my self worth;
Realized it's OK to tell people, "No" when I don't want to do something;
Volunteered for various charities;
Learned the only person responsible for my happiness is me;
Acknowledged that people will treat you how you allow them to treat you;
Realized it's OK to like sex and own that fact;
Understood I will always come second to someone's addiction. That's not my problem, it's their's;
Realized some people want to be miserable; I also realized I should distance myself from those people so they don't make me miserable;
Learned to trust my gut;
Continued to feed my inner child to keep me young- sometimes with a cupcake; sometimes with cartoons (How The Grinch Stole Christmas!);
Realized feeding that child doesn't keep me looking young, but sunscreen, moisturizer, exercise, and water will;
Age is a mindset;
Carmines has the best Italian food in the country with Christini's in Orlando being a very close 2nd;
A wagging tail = an immediate smile;
Most of all, I realized I like me and it's OK if no one else does.
And while I had thought that I would be in a very different place by the time I reached forty, I'm not in a bad place. No one's life is perfect or turns out just the way they planned. I mean, how boring would that be? In the word's of Aerosmith, " Life's a journey not a destination" and I'm looking forward to what the next forty will bring.
What have you learned by the time you turned 20? 30? 40? 50? 60? 70+?