I recently turned 40.
All year, I’ve had apprehension about how I’d feel when the day finally came. I even came up with a kind of bucket list of all the things I wanted to do before turning 40. But as my milestone birthday came closer, I didn’t even care (and didn’t do a darn thing on that list). I had other things on my mind.
Weeks before my birthday, I had my second miscarriage. My pregnancy was unexpected and unplanned, but it gave me a sense of hope that only a new baby can bring. The moment I found out, I knew I wouldn’t share the news on Facebook. But in the days following my miscarriage, I told friends and family. I wrote about my loss on my blog. Because even though I wanted to keep my pregnancy secret, I couldn’t pretend everything was okay, I couldn’t silence my grief.
I hid my birthday on Facebook because I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate anything. I didn’t want anyone asking about my big birthday plans. I didn’t want a random stream of well-wishes from acquaintances. My day had been overshadowed with the thought of what was supposed to be.
My birthday fell on a Friday, and I felt like I needed a change. I guess to make up for all the things I didn’t do throughout the year. Something concrete, something that I had control over. So I cut my hair. And as I posted the picture, sharing my new do and caption about turning 40, I got a few comments like “40 is the new 30” or “40 is the new 20.”
I know why people say it, but I still think why? I don’t want 40 to be anything like my 20s or even my 30s. Why can’t 40 just be 40?
Why the hell would anyone want to be 20-something again? I’m happy those days are over. I mean, sure there are things I wish I had done differently. I was all over the place — moving from job to job, school to school, boyfriend to boyfriend. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I made a lot of dumb mistakes in my early 20s. A lot. But I have to own them. Those dumb mistakes led to the smart decisions I made as I approached my 30s.
As for my 30s? They were pretty special. I had a beautiful baby boy, I graduated from college, and a few years later from graduate school. I grew up. I learned to speak up. I began to think of myself as a writer. If I could go back in time just to savor the really special moments, I would. But I don’t want or a need a do-over. As special as my 30s were, it came with loss, uncertainty, depression. I don’t want to go through that, again. I want to put distance between myself and those feelings.
I’ve been 40 for a few weeks now, and I already know I don’t need 40 to be anything other than 40. I know I can’t escape the realities of life. I am sure that this decade will have it’s share of heartbreak. Everything I went through over the last 20 years has made me the woman I am today.
And yet, it still feels like a fresh start. Because I’m still evolving. I want this year to be about letting go of what was supposed to be and accepting what is. I’m excited to see how this decade shapes me.