The day I turned 36, I told my husband, “I might as well be 40.”
He laughed it off, saying I was crazy, but I knew what I was talking about. You see, our oldest, Violet, was born a few months earlier. I knew the hand of parenthood was holding down the VCR’s fast-forward button on the VHS of my life. (For you non-40-approaching peeps, a VCR and a VHS are like a DVD player and a DVD. See, I’m already dating myself.)
Guess what? I was right. Two blinks and one baby sister later, and I’m suddenly two weeks away from the big 4-0, a skip and a hop from going over the hill.
Here’s what I didn’t know: Turning 40 is not really a big deal. I mean, don’t get me wrong; it’s certainly a good excuse for a killer celebration with friends and family. But 40 candles on your cake is no reason to hide out later and eat said cake in the dark with tears streaming down your face.
After a little research on the World Wide Web (millennials: that’s another term used to describe the Internet), I have come across a multitude of misconceptions about the “dreaded” age of 40. As it turns out, many of them are partially true in my case, but for good reason.
Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Only Partially True Misconceptions About Turning 40:
5. Your Party Days Are Over
Now I’m not talking about kid birthday parties here, guys. Those are still happening every single weekend, with no end in sight. The party days I’m referring to are when you used to go out every weekend, both Friday and Saturday, and indulge in adult sips, sweaty dancing, perhaps some bad karaoke, and stumble your way home to pass out face down on your pillow and/or toilet bowl. Heck, maybe this was even just another Tuesday night for you.
Yeah, those days are probably over, but here’s where the misconception lies: Young people think you give up this charming lifestyle because you don’t have the energy to pull it off anymore. Wrong. I’m a stay-at-home-mom to two girls under 5. In my spare time, I dance ballet 6-8 hours a week. Trust me, I’ve got energy. No, the real reason my party days are over is because I’m smart. You know, older and wiser? In my advanced age, I’ve come to realize that I get a lot more enjoyment from more enriching activities, like a night at the theater, an intimate dinner with close friends, or binge-watching a few seasons of Gilmore Girls.
4. Your Social Circle Diminishes
Have you ever ended up becoming Facebook friends with a high school or college gal? You click on their profile and go to check out your mutuals and, holy smokes, you see they have over 3,000 friends? I blame middle school, where popularity rules. By the time you’re in your 30s, you figure out that a handful of close BFFs and lots of acquaintances is the way to go. But now that you’re turning the 40 corner, not only do you stop bothering with acquaintances, but you also start trimming down that BFF list, weeding out those who don’t believe in you, who never show you support, and who have betrayed you one time too many. So, yes, maybe your social circle diminishes. You know what else diminishes? The completely unnecessary drama in your life.
3. You Watch the MTV Music Awards, like, Huh?
OK, so this is actually a blessing in disguise. It’s perfectly fine to not recognize names like Wizkid & Kyla, or to realize that “Cake by the Ocean” is a song about unmentionable activities performed by the sea, and not part of your retirement goals, or to even begin to comprehend what’s happening with that girl that has the Cousin Itt hair thing going on. I mean, I just had to Google “Top 40 chart” to write this paragraph. If you are able to distinguish the difference between good and bad music by the time you’re 40, consider yourself lucky. Judging by the overwhelming enthusiasm for the recent “I Love the 90s” Vanilla Ice and company extravaganza tour, you are well ahead of the pack. Personally, I fell off the Top 40 wagon when I chose Guns N Roses over New Kids on the Block back in 7th grade. I kid, of course — music preference is entirely subjective. All I’m saying is that when I try to think of a current song that will stand the test of time like, say, The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” I’m pretty sure “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” is not it.
2. Your Fashion Sense Goes Out the Window
You trade in your heels for flats, you prefer LuLaRoe leggings to designer jeans, and you really don’t particularly care if high-waisted pants are back in or not — you just wear them because they look better on you. It’s that simple, folks. I see it less as the end of fashion sense and more as the start of common sense. You wear clothes that make you feel good because they are comfortable and flattering. Anything that has me counting the minutes until I can get home and tear it off — I don’t need that kind of negativity hanging in my closet, people.
1. Your Body Isn’t What It Used to Be
Obviously. But you know what else isn’t what it used to be? My self-esteem. I don’t want to be that skinny 20-year-old girl with the flat stomach who walked around in a cloud of insecurity and self-doubt. Today, my body is fit and curvy. My daughters’ footprints proudly march across my lower belly. My once meticulously straightened hair is finally free to spiral and spin into its naturally curly state. My face crinkles when I smile a lot, so basically all the time. I am me as I was meant to be and I’ve never been happier. Seriously, is there anything in the world sexier than confidence?