Today is my birthday and I am 40.
I’ve heard people say now that 40 is the new 30, but I think that’s kind of a crock o’ crap.
40 is not the new 30.
40 is 40.
40 feels old to me. It feels like it needs to wear responsible pants and sturdy, sensible shoes that are capable of lasting a long time. 40 feels like it needs to be moisturized to look good, needs to be loved to glow. 40 feels like bad (yet thrifty) haircuts are on the horizon, right along with weird skin tags. 40 feels like it needs to be supported.
40 feels like it can’t take as many chances as 30 did.
If ages were cars, 30 would be the mini cooper and 40 would be the honda civic.
Looking back, my actual birthday absolutely sucked when I turned 30. I mean, big-time. It ended up with me standing outside the club, crying. Feeling so lonely and wrung out and…just sad.
I was 30.
I was new in the Bay Area (despite being born here), I had recently broken up an engagement, I had gone from being a fancy corporate trainer in Tokyo to taking care of old people. I was struggling through job interviews because I couldn’t hear and I had no idea how to get a job in the US.
I was 30.
The birthday was not what I would have wanted it to be, but the decade was. It was different than I planned, with the first part focused on my career and the second part focused on my family. It’s not what I thought it would be; it was more than I dreamed could be possible.
10 years ago, I was standing outside of a club in San Francisco, crying. I was alone and I was lonely. I had no idea how I was going to make what I wanted, happen. Being 30 was scary to me then because I felt I was dramatically failing in everything that society said a 30 year old could/should/would be/do/have.
And now I’m staring 40 straight in the eye.
40 is not the new 30.
40 is 40.
It’s nothing like 30.
I am getting the sense that it can be just as sweet as this cherry that Number One picked by hand and left on my table to enjoy as soon as I woke up this morning.
40 is a number I’ve never experienced. It’s a new marker, a new benchmark, springboard.
I imagine it’s going to be just as frustrating as learning to crawl can be.
My body is changing. I am feeling my mortality – which has never scared me but because my One True Darling is five whole years younger than me with his mother’s perfect (read: ageless, wrinkle-less) skin, I get nervous.
Not like I need to be, he says.
Okay, anyway. Where was I?
This brand new decade, full of promise. Promise of being able to still do cool stuff and having some thoughts worth thinking in my head. Issues resolved and I’ve located my baggage and unpacked a fair amount. 40, with the promise of big dreams that can be fleshed out. Promise of more juicy life, lying straight ahead, saying, “BITE me! I’m SAUCY! I’m FUN!”
This new big adventure in which I have this partner that I love with all my heart, by my side
Complete with small offspring! Woo-hoo!
I’m going where I haven’t gone before.
And I’m not going to lie: it’s scary.
It still feels like it calls for sensible shoes, thrifty and unattractive haircuts. Makeup that doesn’t sparkle much and “mature” moisturizer. But I look at myself and I really do look the same. Maybe more, on account of 3 babies and extra weight, maybe more, on account of becoming more comfortable in my own skin, with who I am as a person.
40 is already starting better than 30 did, thanks to the sweet “celebration cherry” left for me by my sweet son. And thanks to the delicious coffee brewed for me by my One True Darling Man, Mikey. The sounds of the kids playing – shreeking, maybe – as I type this post fills the air and their overall delight makes me smile.
The start of things that are scary always seems to hold the potential for something really amazing. 40 is new for me, it’s scary. And like this day starting off so much better than my 30th birthday, I believe that this decade will take us further than the decade of my 30’s took me.
Hopefully. God-willing. And with some effort.
Just like the effort, hope and will that my Mom employed to bring me here in the first place (and thank you, Mom, for that!)
So, 40 isn’t the new 30. It’s nothing like 30. It’s scarier, it’s bigger. It’s more challenging, it’s riper. It’s smarter, it walks with more assurance and speaks with more soul power.
40 is on the way to knowing itself and doing something about it.