I’m a little overwhelmed with all the ways women in their 40s don’t give a fuck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud to count myself as one of those women who are kicking the insecurities of their 20s and 30s to the curb. I love that we 40-somethings know who we are, what makes us tick, and what pisses us off. We’re confident about our parenting choices and that we can handle whatever comes next.
We could care less what people think about our well-worn yoga pants or skin-tight skinny jeans, our light attendance at volunteer school events, and whether or not we wear makeup. We know to say “so long” to the toxic relationships that had us in a tizzy and we honor our post-baby bodies, whether we have sagging bellies or tight barre class abs, smile lines or a Botoxed brow.
Fantastic. Now what?
Ditching the crap is such a relief. For me, it’s freed up quite a bit of time and emotional space to think about what really does matter. In the spirit of making it count, here’s what I’m dedicating my remaining fucks to.
Making the World a Better Place
Okay, I know that sounds trite, but it’s totally true. In my 20s and 30s, I had pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams for the world. While I volunteered with the homeless and raised money for cancer, I believed the powers-that-be would address the world’s challenges effectively and on a broader scale.
Then I had kids — three girls. Education, health care, women’s rights, and gender equality issues became even more personal to me, but raising my kids took most of my time and attention. Now that my girls are growing up and heading toward making lives of their own, I worry even more about the world they’ll soon tumble into. I’m more motivated than ever to fight against gun violence, sexual assault, and racism. Since IDGAF about the vitriolic people who disagree with what I believe in, I plan to be loud and proud.
I’ve spent decades cataloging, fretting, and bemoaning the shape and limitations of my body. It’s what a lot of us do in our 20s and 30s. My 40s is the decade when I finally started caring way more about how my body works than what it looks like. Healthy is the new skinny. Strength is the new size 2. Taking care of my body is what will get me through the second half of my life with my health intact. Sleep is a priority as is exercise and eating as well as I can. That said, I’m not a nut about it. Cocktails and chocolate are still my close friends, because at this point in my life, I know how to take care of myself. Plus, IDGAF if I gain a pound or two.
I’m still working on owning up to relationships that don’t work well and letting them go. If that means I’m left with a handful of friends rather than a crowd, so be it. That said, I’m even more fierce about the relationships that matter and doing more to make them better. This is especially poignant for me now as my oldest heads to high school; I want to know her and I want her to know me.
In a few years, my other two daughters will follow, and my husband and I will be left with…each other. Which brings me to marriage: I don’t know about you, but mine is always a work in progress. Readying it for the next phase is top on my list. Same goes for my parents, sister, and handful of close friends.
Having My Shit Together – MY Shit and No One Else’s
As my kids grow up and take more responsibility for themselves, I no longer need to deal with their schedules, social plans, and deadlines. Now is the time to pay attention to my own needs and wants, and weed out obligations I took on that are no longer fulfilling or take up time I’d like to spend in a different way. It’s time to make some important choices for myself. Going back to work full time is an option. Getting serious about surfing is another. I’m taking stock of my life, prioritizing what I’d like to pursue and pulling it together so it works for me.
Accepting Myself for Who I Am
I’ve spent years denying certain aspects of myself because I didn’t think they were acceptable or I was ashamed of them. What a waste of time. We’re all flawed. We all make mistakes. We’re all afraid of our weaknesses and don’t always acknowledge our strengths. I’m anxious, startlingly passionate about certain subjects, can’t leave the house without making the bed, and need good chunks of alone time. In my 40s, I’m owning up to these and several other quirks. I’m letting the people who love me know about them, too. Turns out they’re okay with me just the way I am. Clearly, I’m rockin’ it in the relationships department (see above).
Realizing IDGAF anymore about certain people and situations is one of the most empowering experiences I’ve had in my 40s. Deciding what does matter to me and how to make it a reality is definitely one of the most exciting.
What will you do with your remaining fucks?