As my 43rd birthday approaches, I find myself in awe that I’m happy to be here. The other day my kids asked me what age has been my favorite. “This one feels pretty awesome,” I told them.
They reminded me I said that last year, and the year before. They are right on; I keep waiting for the day when I say, “Oh I miss that age,” but it’s not happening and I know why. When you reach the Fantastic Forties there’s a lot less you’ll put up with. For instance:
1. Clothing that’s too tight.
We’ve put up with jeans, bras, and dresses that make us turn into a bitch for long enough. Gone are the days of our vaginas eating our jeans when we sit down. We have shit to do that involves moving our body freely. We refuse to squeeze into something just because it fit us a year ago, so if we need a new size, we buy it. Do we keep the old jeans in hopes they will fit again someday? Probably, but we realize we aren’t defined by the size of our ass and tummy.
2. Bad sex.
We’ve had enough sex to know what works for us and what doesn’t. Sex doesn’t have to be mind-blowing every time, but we want to get ours and we aren’t afraid to ask. If someone is going to roll off of us without taking care of the star of the show, we won’t ask them to play with us again. We have a voice, we know how to use it, and if sharing a meal at a diner, then having sex in the bathroom is our idea of a fantastic Friday night, we’re gonna ask for it.
3. Reduced-fat ice cream.
If we are going to put something cold and soft into our mouth, we want the real deal. We’ve had our years (or decades) when we believed a little cupful of reduced-fat artificially flavored air would fill a void. It just doesn’t do it. If we’re going to have our way with a container of anything we want the full fat version — we know how to make things count.
4. Not speaking up if someone is being rude.
At this point, we don’t give a shit — we’ve seen it all, we’re sick of it all and we know if we let the rudeness continue, then… well, it will fucking continue. And we will be resentful and want to breathe fire every time someone takes their rude behavior or comments and parks them in our yard. No, I don’t think so. We’ve put up with enough lip to last us the rest of our lives and once we realize we don’t actually have to endure this kind of fuckery, we’re all set with it.
5. Letting our fear stop us.
There is no such thing as being fearless, at least not for me. Talk to me when I’m 80 and maybe I’ll be fearless then, but women in their prime are still afraid, they just don’t let it stop them. It’s a combination of realizing their fears have come between them and too many good things in their life, and realizing they’ve done some pretty scary shit in their past and they not only made it, they are better for it. Bring it on, fear: we aren’t that afraid of you any longer.
6. Trying to make everything okay for everyone else.
We’ve tried doing this our whole entire lives and finally in our fourth decade (sooner if you are smarter than me), we realize this doesn’t work at all. The only thing it accomplishes is letting yourself down because it means you’re always putting yourself last.
7. Unrealistic expectations.
That goes for ourselves as well as other people. Lowering your expectations also lowers blood pressure and your chances of feeling like shit because your friend Nancy canceled on you. With age comes some hardness, yes, but also softness. You recognize life is hard and everyone’s situation is different. You are able to forgive and let go easier than you were before and you are really fucking happier because of it.
8. Acting like you have it all together.
No one has this, no one. Especially the people you think have it all together — the amount of time and effort it takes to put up that front is so exhausting. You’ve tried it, you hated it, you want to be surrounded by people who will welcome your imperfections and you seek them out in other people, too — it makes them real.
9. Fake friends.
Oh, you can spot these people from miles away because we’ve all had a shit-ton of them whether we wanted to admit it or not. Fakeness shines bright, it’s easy to recognize, and we now know weeding out people who don’t really have our best interest in mind makes room for the keepers.
10. Comparing yourself to others.
Maybe this was a motivator in your 20s, but for most of us, there is nothing you can do that’s as damaging as constantly taking yourself down every time you see someone else who is prettier, thinner, making more money, having more patience with their kids, or talking about the sex they are still having with their partner every night despite being together for 15 years. Whatever it is, you know you are you, life isn’t a fucking competition, and just because someone has it good in one area of their lives, it doesn’t mean they are better than you.
It took a while, but we’ve learned one of the keys to happiness is not putting up with shit. And once you figure that out, you just don’t go back.