My 40th birthday started off pretty much like any other day. I swatted the snooze bar on my alarm clock 20 x’s and would have probably gone for a record 30 if the “happy birthday” phone calls didn’t start rolling in. After the last phone call, I made my way to the shower, got dressed and headed out for appointments. I had agreed to a little get together that was being organized and hosted by my aunts that evening and I wanted to look pretty for my big day. My first stop was at the Dominican salon followed by a stop at Sephora to get my makeup done. All was normal and went as planned. I went home, and got dressed an hour earlier than I was supposed to. I fixed myself a snack and sat down to pass the hour. As I lifted my guava jelly and butter smothered cracker to my mouth, that’s when it dawned on me that I was 40.
Turning 40 meant that I was now officially “middle aged” a label I am not at all fond of. With the average life expectancy of 75 in America I started thinking that most of my life was already over. As I sat there, I looked back at what I had accomplished, wondering if I had made best use of my last 18 years and wondering if I was a little too late to address and go after those other goals that have been on my list for far too long. I thought about my weight, the masters degree and that I never traveled anywhere outside of North America. I thought about my parents… Now that I was 40 this meant that they were getting closer to their own average life expectancy. I thought about my blog, and my dating life and wondered how either of them would survive in this culture that celebrates youth. These thoughts stayed with me as I made the long drive to my aunts house. They were compounded when I walked in and saw the “40″ confetti and decorations in her living room and honestly, I almost fainted when she thrust the 40 tiara on my head.
I must have been the quietest birthday girl ever, that night. The food, the champagne, the smiling faces, great company, nor the over proofed laced rum cake pulled me out of my introspection. I went home and cried and spent the rest of the weekend mad at myself that the realization of turning 40 had made me so sad that I couldn’t even enjoy my own night.
Days turned into a week and when weeks almost turned into an entire month I took steps to pull out of the funk. First and foremost I started to talk about how I was feeling and discovered that my feelings were not unique. Little by little, I’ve started to chip away at all of the things that were bothering me about being 40. First and foremost I decided that I made great use of my time these last 18 years and I am very proud of all of my accomplishments. I bought one of those 90-day tv advertised exercise programs and I am getting ready to start week 3 of the 12 week program. I am down from 172 to 167 and will probably continue to shed the pounds if I can steer clear of my family and their scrumptious offerings. Speaking of family, I had that difficult discussion with the parents. I’ve accepted that there are certain things that I can no longer do such as join any of the military branches to serve my country, not even the National Guards and also that I probably shouldn’t do certain things such as wearing mini skirts or crop tops (maybe in another 15 pounds or so). I started looking into travel plans and found a really great tour that will take me through several countries in Europe. It looks like I will be solo on my trip though and I’ve accepted that. As far as my blog is concerned, I am not hiding my age or pretending that I am 10-years younger. I still look “youthful” and I am hoping that I can be an inspiration to the next woman who is approaching her 40th.
Here is some advice for those women who are approaching 40.
Your early years are shaped by your parents. My advice is to listen and learn. Don’t be in a rush to grow old or to take on adult responsibilities. Once you get them there is no point of return.
Go to college. Get it out of the way. I don’t think its just enough to travel. Live abroad, for a year or two, preferably right out of college. That experience (good or bad) is something that you will have forever. Have careful responsible fun and address and deal with any “issues” that surface in your 20′s. Take care of your bodies and say no to procrastination.
Now that you spent the last 8 years addressing your curiosity and your issues, your 30′s is the best time to plant your roots. Meet someone, marry buy a house, have kids if you chose to; go back to school and get your masters or a second degree in something that you now know that you are best suited for. I can’t stress this enough, take care of your bodies and don’t procrastinate.