The Seven Stages of Turning 40

by Nicole Johnson
Originally Published: 

There are days when turning 40 seems fine, simply the next phase, and it’s certainly better than the alternative, death. Here are the seven stages of turning 40…

1. Shock/Disbelief. You can’t believe the time has come. When did you become a mid-lifer? Aren’t you still in your 30s? How did these children get here? How many are there? Are they yours? Who stole your body and replaced it with your mother’s? Why am I asking so many rhetorical questions?

2. Denial. No, in fact, these aren’t my children. I am too young to have birthed these people, though it would explain the less than perky breasts, drooping lady parts and gray hairs springing up everywhere. I’m young and hip. Do people still say hip? Maybe I should say cool or awesome. What happened to my heels and low rise jeans? Am I wearing pajamas, to the grocery store?

3. Anger. OK, this is enough—cut the shit. I’m going to get drunk and binge watch every John Hughes movie and I’m having shots, several, namely Jell-O and Kamikaze. Don’t try to stop me. I am vital and spry. I can still do a cartwheel and a somersault. What 40-year-old woman can say that? I may even have sex with that strange man who is not my husband, because I’m too young to have a husband.

4. Bargaining. Please, please let this be a mistake. I can’t be 40. If you give me a few more years, I will do charitable work. I will take better care of myself and others. I will run a race/marathon for dogs who have gender identity issues or participate in a Tri for geriatric cryogenic research so every old person has a chance to be frozen and thawed like Walt Disney.

5. Guilt. I’ve wasted it all, every last second. Why didn’t I have a career? What have I done with the first half of my life? Am I really mid-life or will I die sooner than average life expectancy? Why didn’t I do more? What kind of mother am I? Is that my child with one thumb in his mouth and his other hand down his pants? How could I have wasted so much time watching television and did I really have to watch every single season of The Real World? That is over 10 days of straight television…I think. I’m not a math whiz, something else I’ve failed at.

6. Depression. I’m miserable; maybe I’ll have another drink or take a day and watch every Lifetime movie or the whole season of 90210, the original 1990s version. They should never have made another one. The new 90210 kids are only in their 20s…I hate them. I hate all people in their 20s and 30s. Young people are evil. Is that girl prettier than me? Am I still a girl? I guess I’m a woman. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a 40-year-old girl. I’m moody and sad; maybe I’m pregnant or going through perimenopause.

7. Acceptance and Hope. Hell, this isn’t so bad. Age is only a number, right? I’m in great shape, minus the belly flab, dark upper lip skin and the road map of blue and green veins on my legs. But, we all have them now. We are 40, and we’ve worked for these flaws. I’m going to embrace and enjoy them. Every woman I know looks just like me, or worse. Did I just say that? Well, Christie Brinkley and Heidi Klum look great. So do Cindy Crawford and Madonna, though her arms are a bit much. She looks like a man, a well-toned man. And the others are freaks of nature really. It’s also airbrushing, and they have people. I have people too, but they are my kids and they don’t do my makeup or help me work out. I can do a push-up, several push-ups. I’m fine. I’ve never looked better. This 40 thing is nothing. Am I having an anxiety attack? Maybe it’s a nervous breakdown. Maybe this is what happens when you turn 40.

No, I’m not 40. I can’t be 40…

Related post: This Is 39

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