May of 2015 I turned 40 and I am still not quite sure how I feel about it. When you turn 40 you don’t get messages saying “Welcome to the club! You are going to love your 40’s” or “Your 40’s are so much better than your 30’s”. You just get “Happy Birthday!! You don’t look 40!!!” I am still trying to figure out what 40 is supposed to “look” like.
Know why?? Because no one is stoked to get out of their 30’s. My 30’s were a huge decade of transition, transformation, growth, and change. I was living in Virginia, got divorced, made some bad decisions, had my house foreclosed on, created an amazing tribe of amazing people that I love, met the love of my life, took more classes and certifications, tried and failed in becoming a firefighter, and moved to Pennsylvania and so much more. Even though there were major, and I do mean major ups and downs, during this decade it was still great because I felt like I had it all under control. I was in my 30’s. I had youth, energy, and experience on my side.
Now in my 40’s I worry more about my health and my ailing parents health. My kids are getting older which means there is much less in my control when it comes to protecting them and supporting them. My vision of myself has changed over night. Do I change the way I dress? Should I chop my hair off? Why does it feel like looking sexy has become less appropriate? Should I start wearing turtlenecks and moo-moo’s? I have no idea why at 40 this magical not so magical shift has occurred but it has and there are no instructions or classes on how to gracefully transition into 40.
My darling friend and I were discussing this shift last week. Her observation is that women have no idea what it means to look like a “real” woman. In this day and age of botox, breast augmentation, and photoshop can anyone tell me what a 40 year old woman that is growing old gracefully looks and feels like? Should I go down kicking and screaming? Get botox, get my boobs redone along with a little nip here and a tuck there? Change my wardrobe to be trendy and sophisticated? Chop my hair off and wear more makeup?
Not just only has my superficial self perception changed but the way my body adapts to my workouts and nutrition has changed, actually it feels like it has stalled out. No matter what I do to challenge and fuel my body, my body is like “Nope. I like the way I am just fine. Your weight will not change and you will not get leaner but you will get stronger but I promise you will not look like you are.” So great It’s not just a superficial exterior shift but it is also a physiological shift – woo hoo!! Hormones are the best!!! (Not so much)
I think all of this is a lesson about loving myself and not comparing myself. Doesn’t that sound so nice and cliche’?!?! If I love myself and accept my body for all of the positive then I will be happier even if my body doesn’t change and I no longer have youth on my side, tell the control freak side of me that.
Tell me how do you cope with aging? With all of the false advertising, photoshop, artificial enhancements, and everything else that gives us a temporary sense of youth and beauty how do you embrace being human and growing older gracefully?