The big 4-0
As we begin the New Year, I’m also beginning a new decade. The day this issue of The Vail Trail hits the stands will be my first full day of being 40. The big 4-0. F-O-R-T-Y. 40. 40. 40. I’m going to keep saying it until it sinks in.
I don’t feel 40. I don’t feel a day over 30. Well, maybe a couple. But what exactly is it supposed to feel like? Am I supposed to start wearing sensible shoes and elastic waist pants? I think not, because 40 is the new 30. But isn’t this when I become known as, “a woman of a certain age?”
Society attaches significance to specific ages and when we’re younger, we count the days to those milestones. You can drive at 16. You’re an adult at 18. At 21, you can drink legally. Then it gets a little less fun. Doctors have a list of benchmark ages. If you’re 35, pregnancies become high risk. At 40, a barrage of tests are recommended, none of which seem like a nice way to celebrate a birthday.
So the question is, at what age did we stop looking forward to getting older? I think it’s tougher for women to age gracefully now than it was 30 years ago, what with our youth-obsessed culture and easy access to plastic surgery. Even so, my mom told me she spent the entire year leading up to her 40th birthday worrying about it. In her mind, she wasn’t 39; she was “almost 40.”
I learned from her and tried to embrace the last year of my 30s. I’m actually looking forward to entering the next decade of my life because at the wise old age of 40, I can appreciate that I’m amazingly, ridiculously lucky.
I’m healthy and so is my family, something for which I’m incredibly grateful. I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need, which is more important anyway. I have amazing, fantastic friends whom I love and a family who loves me. I can look back and recognize that there are things I wish I’d done and a few I wish I hadn’t, but that everything that has happened in my life has lead me to this point, and it’s a pretty great place to be.
The older I get, the less I’m concerned about what other people think. What I want, what I think is best for myself, my family and my life has become paramount. It’s rather liberating! However, I do find myself endlessly fascinated with eye creams and lotions containing alpha hydroxy acid. Don’t care what they think, but I want to look good anyway. Hmm. I’m a study in contradictions.
Forty has this aura about it, a mystique even. I keep waiting for my magical powers to kick in. I do get magical powers, don’t I? I mean, come on, I’ve lived for 40 years! I should at least be bestowed a little more wisdom, insight, patience and the ability to find a great pair of jeans. VT
Linda Boyne is an Edwards resident and a regular columnist for The Vail Trail. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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