I can honestly say I never really thought we’d get together. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t think I’d survive to reach the age of 40, but it always felt like you were so far away and that somehow, I would just stay 28 forever.
It’s not that I’m afraid of you, 40. It’s just… complicated.
Okay, here’s the deal. I really do believe age is just a number. As I mentioned earlier, in many ways I still see myself as being 28. Though I guess that over the last few years I now think 32ish might be more accurate. So, in many ways I am totally fine with you and have no problem with the two of us now meeting.
But then there’s society with its norms, standards, and stereotypes. Everywhere we look we are told that 40 is “old”, especially if you are a woman. That it’s a huge turning point where you go from being young at heart to officially being a mature (read: boring) adult. There’s also this idea that by the time you reach 40 you should have all of your shit together. You should be married (happily), have a family (with each member being happy), and your career should be figured out (happily making you plenty of money). All of your growth and innovation should be taken care of and now you just ride the wave of that hard work.
I’m not naïve enough to actually believe any of that. After all, I just started a business six months ago and plan on growing and innovating with that for years to come. I also got married at 38 and still haven’t had a child. I know there is still so much yet to come.
But I also know my body and my life are changing, perhaps now more rapidly than before. Women simply can’t have biological children forever. Physically we have a limit. We all reach it at different points and now mine might be nearing. That part flat out sucks. Especially when you finally meet your person at 35 (and a half).
My own fertility, or lack thereof (it’s still too soon to tell) is something I am going to have to work on dealing with and accepting. And that will not be easy. It’s also likely the source of all of my issues with you, 40. You’re taking away some of the physical options that mentally and realistically I am just now ready to begin.
But in so many ways you are exactly what I need and what I am ready for. I have learned so much and grown in ways I never expected over the last 40 years, and especially over the last 10. I remember when people freaked out about turning 30. Yet my 30s were so much better than my 20s and you couldn’t pay me now to go back to either. I don’t want to give up the knowledge I have gained—no, that I have earned. Life has often not been easy, but I managed my way through and for that I am grateful and proud.
Thanks to these 40 years I know more of who I am and where I want to fit in this life I’ve created. I know many of my strengths and I also have identified many of my weaknesses. I no longer see friendships from a quantity standpoint but rather for quality. And those that don’t apply are let go.
I married a man who is in every way my ideal match. He grounds me and inspires me, encourages me and comforts me. He makes me a better person in every possible way. He is everything I always wanted in a partner but didn’t know actually existed outside of movies and books. My only problem with it all is why it took so damn many years to find him. And yet, over a decade ago this may not have worked. As Marc often tells me, at 28 he wouldn’t have known how to treat me in the way I deserve to be treated. And truth be told, at 28 I wouldn’t have known to demand it.
I think it’s important to acknowledge the challenges your milestone brings, 40, because getting older isn’t always easy. And when we keep trying to pump each other up by saying it’s just a number and doesn’t really matter we aren’t covering the entire story, especially for women. And our complicated feelings toward you, 40, deserve to be acknowledged and validated.
But I also believe you deserve far more credit than you typically get. You aren’t really all that scary or intimidating. And you definitely don’t mean the best of my life has already happened.
You, 40, mean that I have lived through some stuff. I mean some real and difficult stuff. You can’t spend four decades on this planet without stuff happening. That stuff is different for each of us, but it means we have lived. And it’s a reminder that we will continue to live. And because of all of that stuff hopefully we’ll know how to live better. And bigger. And bolder.
When I was 30, I didn’t really know who I was. A decade later I’m still figuring it out—and will always be figuring it out—but I have 10 more years of data and experience with which to work. And that is invaluable.
So, here we go, 40. I can’t promise I’ll always be thrilled to now be in your club, but I can say with conviction that I have earned this membership. And I promise to use it well and with purpose. Because I deserve all the great things to come.
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