This article was previously published on January 4, 2012.
I’m on the cusp of my 40th birthday and I’m excited. Not that anybody believes me when I say it. In fact, every time I gleefully sing: “I’m turning 40, I’m turning 40! Hooray I’m going to be old!” at anyone within earshot lately (silly I know, but please note I never claimed not to be) and I gear up to start my happiness dance, someone always chimes in with…
“Well not to worry, you look so young. No one would ever guess you’re anywhere near to 40.”
“Old? Forty is the new 20/30? You’re sooo not old.”
Generally, I ignore such comments and just carry on singing. Moreover, the seemingly knee jerk response to console me every time I mention that I’m about to hit the BIG Four-O, only serves to make me want to declare it even more loudly to more people.
You see, I don’t ever want to get to a place where I’m mourning the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve always thought it best to accept what I can and cannot change in life. So, from time to time I may allow myself to bitch and moan about my weight, my finances, and/or the men I choose to date. But even though my knees have started to creak, the bouts of lower back pain I occasionally have to deal with now last a little longer, and certain parts of my body simply aren’t as perky as they used to be, I never complain about getting older.
I figured out a long time ago that I could choose to focus on the down or upside of the aging process, and being an optimist, I chose the upside. And just what is the upside of getting old? Well, I’d say evolving into someone who is more self-aware, being increasingly comfortable in my own skin, and learning to be true to myself in all circumstances (even stressful ones). In essence, with each passing year I am becoming a better and more grounded human being: a person my more nubile, 20-year old self would hardly recognize, much less claim to be.
That’s why, in spite of all the well-intentioned folk who attempt to ‘make me feel better’ about my pending birthday by telling me just how young I look (according to them, because what does 40 look like anyway?) or am in spirit, I refuse to shy away from telling people my age, or celebrating the fact that with each passing year I learn more about myself and the world around me.
Yes, in just a few short days I’ll be turning 40. But I won’t be the 40-something striving to be 20 or 30 with a decade or two of experience. Nope, not me. Instead I plan to revel in the JOY of actually being 40 – nothing more, nothing less. My 40 is simply going to be the new 40 and as hard as it may be for some to believe, that’s a-ok with me.