I turn 40 next month, and if you thought I already had no f%^&s to give, you’d be mistaken. Because there were a few lingering and they have died with my 30s.
In the interest of always over-sharing and telling you my life, here are some things I have learned over the past four decades that I hope will help you with any anxiety about turning the big 4-0.
1.Congratulations, You Made It About Halfway There
Seriously, Mazel Tov. Not all of us make it this far. You are now entering your mid-life crisis, if you have not already. And that is perfectly fine because it’s better than being dead.
2. Nobody Cares
This is something that was recently reinforced to me by a great book by someone younger than me. Nobody Cares. Basically, what we’re saying here is that nobody is actually dwelling on the dumb thing you said yesterday apart from you. No one else is obsessing over that time you did something awkwardly. No one has noticed or cares that you gained or lost 10 pounds. Similarly, no one really cares that you ran a half marathon, your child made honor roll, or you published a new book (seriously I sold 4 copies LOLOL). Everyone has their heads firmly planted up their own asses, Yes, even you. Stop looking for accolades and also stop beating yourself up – because literally, nobody cares.
3. Live Your Best Life Right Now
Always wanted to go to a sex club? Learn how to blow glass? Go on a meditation retreat? Buy a convertible? Live in a yurt? DO IT NOW. I don’t care if they call it a midlife crisis and neither should you – the clock is ticking and you deserve to live your best life. Worried about your children if you suddenly find yourself exploring an unconventional sexuality or alternative lifestyle? Are they loved and cared for and are you being age-appropriate honest with them? Yes? Then you do you. Anyone who is judging you for doing what makes you happy is probably just jealous.
4. Keep Expectations Low
This is a lesson I am fully aware of but still have trouble fully embracing. Despite the evidence that most people are the worst, I still have unreasonable expectations that people will do the least. But they usually won’t. Except for the people who do the most, who are usually extremely random and unexpected people. Your neighbor who brings you cake, your dry cleaner who cares more about what’s going on in your kids’ lives than your in-laws, the person you knew in 5th grade who checks in about your health more than anyone in your inner circle (and isn’t actually trying to sell you protein shakes). Generally, I have found it is best to expect nothing. Do not expect to be invited, understood, recognized, or thought of. Then, when it actually happens, you will be giddy from the pleasant surprise.
5. Be Thankful for The People who Have Tolerated Your Bullshit
If you are lucky, you have a few people who have stuck with you through the better part of this lifetime, despite your every effort to be the worst person possible. Maybe it’s a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or a best friend. Maybe it’s actually your child. Maybe it’s your damn dog. I don’t know, if you are still here, I am sure there is someone who tolerates you. Because, let’s face it, living with you has not been easy. Remember when you thought you were a raver? When you were dating that truly terrible person? When you spent too much money on a motorcycle? When you voted for Jill Stein (Personally I’m gonna stay mad at you for that)? You have done some truly questionable things. Look around and thank the people who are still present in your life after your horseback riding phase.
6. Take Care of Your Health
This might sound obvious, but you really do need to stop behaving like you are invincible. In fact, there is a pretty high chance that if you’ve made it to 40 you’ve already been through some shit. You may have survived cancer, a broken back, an inexplicable autoimmune disease, or debilitating mental health issues. There’s a good chance you are living with a chronic something – and if not, you are probably going to wake up tomorrow and find out you have developed an inexplicable allergy to raisins. Take your lactose-intolerant ass for a prostate exam right now. It’s cool if a mammogram is the most action your boobs have seen lately – go. And if you can afford the top insurance plan, buy it. America’s healthcare system is trash but you will be thankful your co-pays are minimal when you break your femur. And you will break your femur.
7. Don’t Settle
Halo Top is not ice cream. People who don’t get you aren’t worth investing that much time in. As one of my favorite song lyrics says, “Never fall in love with potential.” (See mid-life crisis pottery). That goes for partners, clothing, and snacks. Cut out the garbage toxic people and sweatpants which are not serving you. Your career is a bit more complicated – not everyone has the privilege to up and quit an unsatisfying job on their journey for a more fulfilling life. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for your dream job, take the class you always wanted to, write that book, or explore actually launching that side business that really utilizes your best talents.
8. It’s OK If Not Everyone Likes You
“It’s impossible to live a life of integrity without pissing a few people off” – that is a quote by my DAMN SELF. Because when you are 40, you can do insufferable things like quote yourself, hashtag it, and make it an Instagram story. People will judge you for that, but people will judge you anyway – seriously there is no way that everyone will like you unless you are basic, bland, and always “nice.” Who wants to be that? Not me.
9. You are Never too Old to Listen, Learn, and Do Better
Every single one of us has made missteps, held deeply embedded prejudices, and said or done something wholly inappropriate or misinformed. I know that I have said and done things in my life that were low-key racist, sexist, islamophobic, homophobic, or transphobic – often without even realizing it. Like most white women, I didn’t know what intersectional feminism meant until after the 2016 election, but I listened and I learned. I allowed marginalized people to correct me when I was wrong, and continually work to be a better ally and advocate for both the marginalized groups I exist in and the ones whose life experiences I could not possibly understand. There is no shame in admitting and correcting our mistakes. We are never too old to examine our own ingrained prejudices and misconceptions, apologize for past behavior, and work on being better versions of ourselves.
10. Love Yourself
I recommend listening to Lizzo – who loves herself the way you should – as much as possible. You look amazing and you are a goddamn queen. You have done a lot over 40 years. Seriously, you need to embrace how fabulous you are. I have friends in their 40s who legit date themselves – they take themselves out to dinner and a show. Why not? Crush on yourself and kiss the mirror. Wear leather pants if you want and rock a bikini because all bodies are beach bodies. You have never looked better – and someone has the old photos to prove it.