Before I turned 40, all I heard about was how amazing this decade is. People would talk about this newfound self-confidence and IDGAF attitude. You (should be) hitting your stride professionally, and your kids are (probably) in that “sweet spot” between toddlers and teens. You don’t care about your body or what other people think. You know who you are and you do your thing. Unapologetically.
Things are just… easier, they said either implicitly or explicitly.
Well, now that I’ve been in this supposed-utopia of a decade for almost a year now, I can affirmatively and confidently say: BULLSHIT.
Your 40s aren’t any easier, and telling folks that they are is like telling a new mom that motherhood gets easier. Things don’t get easier, just different. (And you get better.)
Sure, some people might be hitting their stride professionally, but others might be changing directions or struggling in a career that doesn’t suit them. Yes, we might be in the sweet spot of parenting, but we are also acutely aware of how quickly it is ending and we’re freaking terrified. With aging parents and growing kids, we’re intensely aware of the swift passage of time and the strong hand of human mortality (both our loved ones’ and our own).
And our bodies? Well, I might not care about the dimples on my ass or thigh chafe, but I now have a near constant back ache and an odd clicking in my knee. I need to wear shoe inserts, FFS.
I might not care what random strangers and acquaintances think about my unkempt hair and messy minivan, but I sure as hell care a lot (too much?) about whether people know me as a kind and compassionate person.
Don’t get me wrong, that IDGAF attitude that started in my 30s is being honed in 40s when it comes to the “little things” that don’t matter to me (using the right skin cream and attending every moms night out). But I can assure you that I give several fucks about the big things that matter to me, and quite frankly there’s a lot to fret about lately.
But here’s the thing I didn’t get about being in your 40s until now: It doesn’t get easier; it gets richer. Deeper. Sweeter and more substantial. Kind of like an enormously rich and decadent chocolate cake (and yes, I did eat that cake pictured on my 40th).
And because of that, it’s more important than ever to surround yourself as much as possible with people who want to enjoy the cake with you. With people who know your TRUE heart. With people who act with and assume good intentions in your interactions. With people who help you be your best self and push you to be better, while also understanding that they themselves are falling short of their best self too. With people who don’t just tolerate but appreciate vulnerability. With people who know you and get you.
These people — these special and rare relationships — are what make the 40s so damn awesome. They are the brightly colored rainbow sprinkles (or M&Ms) on a delicious chocolate cake.
So live well and love well, my friends. Find Your People. Here’s to our so-very-full 40s (and beyond).