My favorite thing about getting older is that I can finally say, without a doubt, that I really, truly don’t have any fucks left to give about anything anymore.
It wasn’t always this way.
As a teen, I definitely had an IDGAF reputation. I went to high school in a high-achieving, affluent town. I was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. I lived in an apartment with my single mom, who taught me at an early age to question authority.
And I did just that. I dressed like a hippie. I wrote poetry. I argued with other kids in history class about politics and women’s rights. I was voted “Most Individualistic” and graduated six months early so that I could escape the suburban bubble of high school and tackle the real world.
The thing was: I was not tough at all. I was vulnerable, and I was a bit of a lost soul. I had body image issues. I overate at times, starved myself at others. I had an anxiety disorder that I hadn’t yet gotten help for.
College was a roller coaster. I switched colleges, changed majors, moved back in with my mom, and then moved out again. But I made it through. I spent my 20s learning how to be an adult. I finally got help for my anxiety. I got married. I figured out how to be financially independent, successful, and stable.
In my late 20s, I started a family, which threw a wrench into things, as it can be known to do. New anxieties popped up. I felt incredibly vulnerable to criticism from others, and I was constantly worried about the health and welfare of my kids.
But now, with my first decade of motherhood behind me and the big 4-0 around the corner, I’m starting to finally feel like the independent, confident, no-fucks-giving woman that I so desperately wanted to be when I was younger.
And let me tell you, it feels good. So goddamn fucking good.
It’s not that life isn’t difficult sometimes or that I don’t ever feel vulnerable anymore. In fact, I do, all the time. But even when I feel like I’m falling apart, or that the world around me is, I know how to deal with it. I have four decades of experience dealing with it.
Maybe 40 years is just the right amount of time required for someone to learn how to kick ass. I look back at my life and I see suffering, I see failures, and I see shit that went wrong. But I also see that it’s behind me now—and that I was able to get through it.
It’s that strength acquired during those early decades of hard times that now carries me more confidently through my current life. I can see what has worked and what hasn’t. I can harness the good and throw the rest to the curb where it damn well belongs.
And I don’t know about you, but aging has taught me that there are certain people who should be in my life, and certain others—just no. I’m done with codependency. I’m done with people who drag me down. I used to think I could fix broken people, but I’ve realized that that’s impossible—and detrimental to everyone involved.
I’ve fallen madly in love with boundaries. I no longer feel the need to say “yes” to anything I don’t want to do—whether it be work projects, life commitments, or my 9-year-old’s millionth request for an Xbox. “No” isn’t a bad word: it’s a valuable word, actually, and one that we all should probably use more often.
And here’s the biggest one: I used to think that standing up for myself was something I needed to do to prove to others that I was powerful and independent. But now I know the truth, which is that I have nothing to prove. I’m in charge of my own life, my own destiny. I decide my own value. No one else can do that for me.
Yes, there are certain things I wish were different about my life. But life will always be filled with variables we can’t control. What we can control is our outlook—and I’m very happy to say that getting older has done wonders for that.
Forty is midlife, yes, but for me, it is also a beginning. I look forward to many more decades of giving absolutely no fucks and enjoying the hell out of my life.