Turning 40 is different than I thought it would be.
I used to think that turning 40 was a mark of a life being over, or if not over, certainly on a downward trajectory. Thinking of 40-year-old celebrations from years past, I picture black everywhere with canes and wrinkle cream and lots of talk about gray hair. I can vividly remember when my mom turned 40 years old and my dad threw her a giant surprise party at our house, complete with a massive lawn sign proclaiming, “Debbie is Turning 40!” (or something to that effect). People flew in from thousands of miles away. We planned it for months. It was a big deal.
Turning 40 is a big deal, but in a different way than I expected. I expected dread and regret and nostalgia. The nostalgia I’m feeling is sweet, not bitter, and there’s no dread – only hope and eager anticipation of what’s next. I’m not preoccupied with my wrinkles and I’m not surrounded by black. I’m excited to see what the future brings and I’m surrounded by smiles and laughter. I may be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts, but I am choosing to see it as a mid-life breakthrough.
I’m glad to be 40. And here are 40 reasons why.
- I may still have that nightmare where it’s the last day of college and I realize I’ve forgotten to turn in an important paper or take a course that prevents me from graduating – but it’s just a dream. I graduated. It’s okay.
- I don’t have to fold a fitted sheet if I don’t want to.
- I don’t need to try the latest fashion (*cough cough* fringed shawls *cough cough*) to know they don’t look good on me. I have my own style, and I like it.
- I no longer feel pressure to be famous or wildly successful, and my definition of success has changed. I can be somebody without being somebody.
- I’ve never changed anyone’s opinions by telling them they were wrong, so I’m not doing that anymore.
- Guilt, anxiety and worry have stolen enough of my life so I’m leaving them behind.
- Growth is a gift. Change is a blessing.
- I get to keep all the love I’ve gotten over the years, even if the people that gave it to me have left me. I get to keep that love.
- My thoughts may have been thought before, my words may have been spoken before and people may have done the same things I’ve done – but my life is uniquely mine.
- When we know better, we do better. My past got me where I am today and has taught me incredible lessons. I don’t have to feel regret. There’s no reason to regret the things I did when I didn’t know better, and there’s no excuse for not doing better once I learn more.
I’ve learned that:
- Control is an illusion. The tighter my grip, the less control I have. Letting go gives me the balance and freedom I truly desire.
- Nobody really cares what I eat or drink.
- An open mind is more important than having the answers, and my happiness is more important than being right.
- Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.
- I’m unique and deserving of love … just like everyone else.
- My passions don’t have to make me money to be fulfilling or worthwhile.
- Time is more important than money, and there is enough time. I don’t have to do everything all at once.
- I am a human being, not a human doing.
- I don’t have to do everything alone.
- Sometimes (many times!) it’s best to just let it be and move on.
- Hurt people hurt people, everyone is a little bit broken, and time spent healing is time very well spent.
- Judgment may be human nature, but it’s a waste of time, it limits potential and it diminishes relationships.
- My needs matter.
- I don’t have to be like anybody else. More to the point, I shouldn’t be like anybody else. Pretending to be somebody other than me is a waste of my life. I wasn’t born to be a shadow or a puppet.
- No one was born to be put in a corner. Everyone needs and deserves sunlight.
- Focusing on negative events invites more negative events into my life. It’s important to acknowledge all the good, bad and truly ugly feelings and things in life, but it’s also critical not to ruminate and swim in that negativity. Feel feelings fully, and then move on.
- I can always find evidence to support my story. I can choose to tell the good stories and let the bad ones go.
- The universe is perfectly designed and beyond my capacity to understand.
- It doesn’t matter what I believe, it only matters that I believe.
- Meditation isn’t weird.
- No good decisions are made at 2:00 a.m.
- There is enough to go around. We live in an abundant universe. We don’t need to hoard, or steal, or fear – we need only open our hearts and arms and give freely of our time, our energy and our love. There is enough.
- Choices made on the side of love are always, always, always the best choices.
- I may have been through some crazy/awful/terrible things and may have been hurt by some crazy/awful/terribly behaving people, but those things don’t define me. I’m not a victim. I have the power and responsibility to create my life.
I’m still learning:
- How to say no.
- To be present.
- To let go of the illusion of control and trust the world and the beautiful people in it. I don’t have to understand everything right now.
- How to be the author of my own life story.
- What I want to be when I grow up.
- I have a lot to learn.
To live is to grow. I still have plenty of growing to do. The point of the dance of my life is not to make it to the finish line but to dance.
I may have less time ahead of me to dance, but I intend to dance each step of my life with joy, gratitude and love.