A Message to All of Us Millennials Turning 40 This Year

Because today is my 40th birthday and I’m about to bffr, as they say on TikTok…

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the social media front (and on here), and today I’m ready to talk about why:

I absolutely DO NOT want to turn 40.

And I’ve been depressed AF about it.

There, I’m now saying it publicly, no take backs and, quite frankly, I’m exhausted from feeling shame over my shame.

I’m writing this blog post the day before my 40th, my late grandfather Warren Stone’s birthday, and I’m struggling to even clearly organize the thoughts that have been going through my head for the past few months.  Honestly, it’s been a roller coaster, and those said thoughts have ranged everywhere from “I never thought I’d be such a huge loser at 40” to “maybe this will be MY decade” – and the in between, of course.  Friends who already went through this have been super supportive; many told me that the initial shock is hard, but that I’ll actually feel better once it’s over and I accept it.  Others have said they actually prefer their forties even though the initial number feels…just like a lot?  They get it. I feel loved and heard.

But when I started writing this post, I was going to use the below photo and it just sent me; this amazing picture is from my 30th birthday party…and when I look at it, I remember exactly how I felt: like I was fucking thriving.

Like I was about to start my “real” adult life from that moment forward, and with no hangover the next day – natch!

But that’s not at all how I feel today.

I feel a lot more like the deflated, sad balloon that’s branded FORTY.  It’s my scarlet letter and, for me, it’s a much bigger and scarier thing to wear than an A for adulterer.

I absolutely love reading articles like this one (from the prestigious Harper’s Bazaar, no less), poignantly sub-titled “society has a vested interest in telling women that aging is terrible.  Don’t believe it.”  YES, yes, THIS?!  But then the sadness and overwhelm creep in.

Wait, yay women- feminism!  But they’re not talking to ME, right?

Yes, Jamie. They are. You are exactly who they are talking to because you are now 40.

Even though I mentally feel 28, look 30, and have the metabolic age of 45 (not kidding/wish I was- my FitTrack told me), I just couldn’t possibly believe that I am now the woman who has to defend simply existing in the second half of her life. I always defended those women. I just never expected to be one of them one day.  And then it hit me: I truly think that all of my anxiety around turning 40 ultimately boils down to my biggest fears: I’m now, at 40, no longer desirable and I’m going to die alone.

Logically, OF COURSE, I know this isn’t true.  But here I am, 39 and 364 days, and I’m just realizing now (or, ok, more like last night on Zoom with my grief therapist), that even though I’m fully aware that society has tricked me (and a lot of us) into thinking I’m no longer hot, or fun, or sexy, I absolutely fell for it. More shame. More guilt.  Now I’m mad at myself for being mad at myself – don’t you just hate when that happens?

My point is this: I want to talk about it.  We NEED to talk about it.  All of it. Society telling us that we need to have “x amount of money saved by age x,” or we’re a failure.  Women over 35 are considered to have a “geriatric pregnancy,” (whatever the fuck that even actually means- from what I’ve heard, not a whole lot).  And that, yeah, you will ABSOLUTELY get a lot less matches on dating apps the day of your 36th birthday.  I’ve experienced it all first hand and it fucking SUCKS, but I still feel like the more we talk about this stuff, the less alone we will feel as women. In our forties. Typing that feels so weird guys, but my main goal for my 4oth year on this planet Earth is two things:

1-) Honoring those years, especially the tough ones filled with death and grief, by fucking thriving. I am going to seek out that feeling from my 30th birthday party every single day, even on the days when I have to fake it until I make it.

2-) I am going to throw away those fake timelines. For good. It’s going to be a big task, and I know I’ll have set backs, but I’m gonna do my damn best. Progress over perfection, always.

I can’t help how I feel about all of this but, know this, I don’t want to feel shame for my shame any longer.

Maybe that is the benefit of being 40.

Would love your thoughts- sound off in the comment below and thanks for reading my wild rant. <3

Balloon image via Stocksy, by Juan Moyano

16 thoughts on “A Message to All of Us Millennials Turning 40 This Year

  1. 40 is a wonderful celebration of your spirituality and just the beinning to a long prosperous life ahead of you. So very proud of all your accomplishments and your love and zest for life. I couldn’t be a more proud mom.
    love you,

  2. If I throw myself a 39th birthday party every year, can I avoid aging altogether?

    They say 40 is the new 30, but let’s be real – 30 was already pretty old. How about we just declare 40 the new 25 and call it a day?

  3. Pingback: My 40th Birthday Party: All the Details - Honestly JamieHonestly Jamie

  4. today is my 40th… birthday. I’m single, no kids, broke, and have zero friends. I feel depressed and lonely AF. this post spoke to me on so many levels. looking back at my life, I was so happy I thought? I had so many friends and so much to look forward to. Now, I’m alone on my 40th. who would have thought!

  5. I’m turning 40 in 3 days and you read my heart.. I’m struggling with it so badly for pretty much the same reasons and wishing I could get past it so I could ENJOY it. Trying. Nonetheless, I don’t have a platitude to end on other than the fact that I’m reading about you and the comments from other people below makes it impossible for me to tout that I’m alone and no one understands. I do. I understand you. Even if my experience is different, the bruises it touches affects us similarly.

    We are not irrelevant. We’ve made it through so much and because of that, maybe we have more to offer than when we did when we were 30. 30 felt like I was a baby at this point to be honest. The attention we once had isn’t the type of attention we want now. And every choice we’ve made up to this point is a culmination of who we are. So really, we are exactly who we’ve wanted to be in many ways and can reflect and see where we’d like to do better.

    I’m trying.

  6. I turned 40 yesterday. I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I was doing ok.

    Then this morning I needed to drive my husband to work but I couldn’t find my purse.
    “you need your license. they’ll tow the fucking car otherwise.”
    “but I HAVE one, it’s in their computers along with my picture.”
    “they don’t care.”
    a moment of realization… “oh fuck. I’m not cute enough to get out of this anymore” (tbf, it’s been awhile since I was)
    “that doesn’t work if you get a woman cop or an old grumpy cop. that only works in a small percentage of stops in the first place.”
    “it worked when I was going 85 on the 5. I pulled my shirt down a little bit more and flirted.”
    “…. how old were you?”
    “… … 22.”

    and then I’m sobbing because I realize that my youth is fucking GONE. I mean, I exploited being young and hot as much as I could. But now I’m 40 with two kids, treatment resistant depression (and the weight gain and bad skin from not having e energy to take care of myself) and a house with two unusable bedrooms because I’m a fucking disaster who can’t get anything done.

    but none of this matters, because 40 isn’t the problem.

    it’s that I’m an insecure disaster.

    p.s. this is going to sound absurd, but check out Olivia Rodrigo – pretty isn’t pretty. it feels insane that someone literally HALF my age gets it so well. also, I wish these albums existed when we were teenagers, they’re SOLID. (see also: brutal, jealousy)

  7. I don’t want to be 40 – two months’ time – as I’ve NEVER been hot or fun or sexy. I’ve never lived up to my potential. And now I definitely never will.

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are not alone because I feel the EXACT same way. This is NOT how I pictured my life: No children, no husband (not even in relationship), no house and I job I hate.
    I tried to do something new and daring for my 40th. That fell apart in the planning stages. I don’t even want to celebrate my 40th.
    At one point I was like you. I was holding on to that “maybe next year will be my time.” After saying that since 18, I’ve accepted that its not. I have accepted that everyone, no matter what they do has a destiny. Some people’s destiny is to die alone with no children. If this is my destiny, I have no choice but to accept it.
    I literally have tears streaming down my face typing this. In 4 days, this won’t be a theory, it will be factual.
    I figured the only thing I can do now, is try to convince the youth not to waste their lives. To go after the dreams and passions DESPITE what other people say. Even if they are your own parents, family and friends.
    Its one life and I have spent the first half working, paying bills, and watching others have the life that I dreamed about.
    My realization about 40: I’ve gotten used to being alone and ignored and it has staggered my life. Second half can’t be like that. I have to get out my comfort zone and do things by myself. I will travel, go to social events, attractions and functions. Accepting solidary in one thing, walking through it is another.
    I better get some good shoes!
    Please understand that this is my pitiful life story. I know many would say “your time is soon”, “he’s right around the corner”, “there’s still hope for you” (yes, some actually said that to me. I didn’t know I was such a loss cause).
    After hearing that for 20+ years, it falls on deaf ears. I know they are people excited about turning 40 and all the new adventures it holds. You seem to have that attitude. I’m proud of you for that. Thank you sharing and feeling confident enough to vulnerable in front of crowd of people with no faces.
    May the next 40 be the best for you and all others!

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