Next week my sister turns 40. I would cackle with glee and do an evil little leprechaun dance except for that fact that she’s my younger sister and her turning 40 means that I’m well over 40.
Schadenfreude, have you met my good friend irony?
The internet abounds–it practically explodes–with advice about turning 40. What to look forward to, what to expect when you’re expecting middle age, how to enjoy the last uptick of the hill before you’re over it. Somewhere out there is probably a recommended soundtrack featuring The Smiths and Tears for Fears. But you know. It’s my sister this time. As big sister I’m supposed to lead the way, forge a path, lay the foundation and other carpentry metaphors. I’m supposed to tell her the truth about being 40.
At 44, I feel like I’m on the cusp of being an expert 40-something. As a writer, I’m rarely at a loss for words. With that in mind dear sistah…here’s what you have to look forward to.
Your 40s are Fearless
As you take your first tentative steps into your 40s, you may notice you suddenly have more time to stop and smell the roses. Some of that may be because your finances are in better shape or your retirement plan is doing well giving you a bit more leisure time in the garden to cultivate those roses. But a lot of it is because you stop worrying so much about shit that doesn’t matter. Bending down over those roses, with your gut hanging over your pants, you are probably going to realize that you no longer care if the girls and the boys lining your garden path are gossiping about your camel-toe or making fun of your muffin top. Remember all that time you used to spend worrying about what other people thought? You are going to find yourself with a lot more space in your head freed up from caring. You will fearlessly cavort down your path in your too-tight jeans. Wedgie be damned.
Your 40s are Forgetful
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to warn you that a lot of that free time is going to be spent trying to figure out if you’ve forgotten something important. A child, an appointment for surgery, your best friend’s birthday, to put shoes on. You will stand in front of the refrigerator, the cupboard, the door to the basement frantically wondering if it is normal for you to forget what sent you there five minutes before. You will happily spend whole afternoons in your garden remembering only at bedtime that there was some soul sucking meeting regarding your kid or your retirement plan that you plumb forgot. A word of advice: don’t pick at the contents of the fridge or the pantry while you’re desperately trying to remember what you went there for because the next ‘f’ is for flab.
Your 40s are spent Fighting Fat
Remember how you used to cut out bread for a week or do an extra spin class, have a few salads and you’d fit back into your jeans? Well, you can forget about all that the same way you’ve forgotten your kid at the bus stop. All of a sudden, seemingly overnight, there’s a spare tire here and a few bingo wings there and you start understanding why Nana preferred elasticized pants. The kicker? Even though you mostly don’t care about what other people think, this one’s hard to let go of. So you’ll spend the first year of your forties thinking, oh, that won’t happen to me, the next saying, shit it’s happening to me, the next one trying to come up with everything else it could be, (lupus? cancer? the water??) and the next reconciling yourself to the fact that it is indeed, as your wise, slightly older sister told you, age. Perhaps by the time you reach 50 you don’t care about that either. I’ll let you know in a few years.
Your 40s are about Flashes
As in hot, as in rage, as in that’s how quick it was between moods and the last time you plucked that stubborn chin hair. Flash as in, no way am I going to do that with my boobs because they’re down by my belt. Flash as in, I can’t believe how quickly the time doth fly. Get used to roller coaster emotions, sleeping with the windows open and getting pissed off when the indicator on your car blinks too loudly. Get ready to think its April when it’s really August. Get ready to want to rip someone’s head off and eat their beating heart in front of them to show them how loudly they’re chewing. Get ready to start thinking that global warming is a very, very, very personal thing.
Your 40s are going to be about Friends and Family and the Future
Your forties are all about realizing what and who is important. It’s a time to streamline, to clean out your closet, purge your Facebook friend list and shed dead weight, whether that weight comes in the form of toxic friendships or dead-end jobs or stuck in the mud relationships. It’s no coincidence that by the time you hit 40, you look around and realize that statistically speaking, more than half of your life is behind you. The good news? You’ve come a long way baby, but you’ve still got a long way to go. The time is ripe to make a change. You’re young enough to still grab life by the balls, even if you have to stick your head in the freezer and you don’t remember why you were at the freezer to begin with.
So almost welcome to your 40s, baby sis. You’re going to love it, I promise. So ice the cake, light the candles and say a different kind of ‘f’ word to what you’re leaving behind. Your 40s called and they’re going to be fantastic.
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