George Bernard Shaw said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I don’t know that I’d go that far with it. I had some good times in my late teens and 20s. There were also a lot of nights spent crying. I may have passed my last f***able day by Hollywood’s standards, but rest assured, getting f***ed in Hollywood is highly overrated.
I think what I love most about my 40s is eliminating the gauge I used to have for external acceptance. Do I worry if something looks good on me? Yeah, but I don’t worry about it because I want to look doable; it concerns me because I understand the connection between how I present myself, how I am treated and how I feel.
Next month I’ll turn 42. I’m still me, same as I was at almost 32 and almost 22. The only things that have changed are the way I view things and how my body responds, which I guess is actually a lot, but the stories of death and irrelevance in our 40s are greatly exaggerated.
I bristle at the idea of looking good for being in my 40s, and revel in the idea that I look good for me. Does that sound like an excuse for someone past her prime? I think the answer is more about the person thinking that than it is about me. A few years ago I sat in the audience as Katie Couric responded to the question, “Don’t you feel marginalized at your age?”
She made a sound, cocked her head, flexed one of those amazing gams of hers and said, “By whom? Who’s marginalizing me?” It wasn’t about her celebrity; it was about the fact that she is a grown woman in charge of defining herself. She feels great.
My 40s have finally given me the contours in my face I always wanted. Gone are the fleshy cheeks I detested. I revel in all 70 inches of my height and no longer try to wedge it into clothing that fights it. My eyes are flanked by crow’s feet and the loathsome “11” wrinkles, but the woman who has emerged behind them is someone I love. This isn’t something I could even imagine before my 40s.
I own a business and go toe-to-toe with people who might try to pat me on the head or dismiss me because I am woman, but my 40s are like the liquid courage of my 20s. I line my 3-inch wedge or oxblood cowboy boot right up with anyone and give them the kind of what for that confidence, experience and wisdom fuel.
The sharp lines of my cheekbones catch the light beneath my eyes. I see beauty in the way the features on my face complement each other and tell a story of laughter shared and pain endured. I go back and forth between laying the mascara on thick and going barefaced, intrigued by the way what pleases me on any given day might be different.
The rhythm of my contentment is not rooted in appearance. I like understanding that when I covet something, I confuse object lust for joy. My truest compass for happiness is the degree of peace I feel inside of me. Peace—did we ever seek that in our 20s? Life was about living inside of the noise and rush of it all.
Being in my 40s is asserting myself personally, professionally, sexually, all of it. There is singing out loud in the car as much as there is digging my hands in the earth to plant a garden. It feels in many ways like I am living within the core of life, arms outstretched, touching either side—my beginning and end, both equally vibrant.
The most surprising thing about my 40s is that I didn’t realize how much I had to look forward to by getting here.