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