Somewhere around the age of 30-32, I remember going out to lunch as a performance reward with some of my coworkers to a nice restaurant in West Des Moines. Next to us, was a long table of about 10-15 women. It was obvious that they were celebrating a 40th birthday, due to the “four-o’s” on the streamers and balloons. All of the women were stylishly dressed, and their hair and make-up was nicely done. One of my coworkers, who was and still is a close friend, said to me, “Look how fashionable they are, Mary. That’s what you’re going to look like at 40.” And I remember looking at the ladies again and thinking that they were absolutely fabulous. If that’s what 40 looks like, then it’s going to be OK. Now that I am on the eve of 40 and withering in the shadow of the Grim Reaper, I’ve decided that I don’t want to turn 40, and I’m not going to.
I think the problem is that because 40 seems significant, I have begun to dwell on what things I have not done with my life, and I need to remind myself of all the time I may have left to do them. My grandparents retired at around 50 years old, and they had no idea that they would live to be 96 and 105 years old. It is likely that my life is not even half over at this point.
What I also didn’t realize as a kid is that as adults, we do not always necessarily feel our age. Some days I do feel like I’m 80, but there are also other days I feel like I am 10 years old. Most of the time, I feel like I’m in my 20’s, but my 20 year-old self is not staring back at me from the mirror. Going to my class reunion really put this in perspective. It isn’t fair to walk into the local bar and try to compare myself most of the inhabitants in their early to mid and even late 20’s. I can’t compete and don’t even try to compete with them. When I was able to mingle with my female classmates and peers at my class reunion, I realized those bitches were no better looking or younger than I.
What will take away the sting of the 40th birthday is that I’m going on a trip. So, instead of dwelling on 40, I really am focused on the fact that I will finally have a vacation, which hasn’t happened in at least five years! Preparing and packing for the trip are totally distracting me. Viva Las Vegas!