Eight. It’s not a lucky number or an unlucky number. There is nothing incredibly spectacular about the number eight, except for that it lives between seven and nine and you can make seven seem like a super bad dude when you say seven “eight” nine. (Thank you, Bare Naked Ladies.)
On a usual day, eight doesn’t mean that much to me – but today it does.
Eight. That’s the number of days I have left in my 30s. Eight more days until the passing of another decade. But who’s counting?
I have watched countless friends exit their thirties and enter their forties before me with style and grace. I read posts about the wisdom imparted on them in their thirties and about how their forties are going to be that much better. They post pictures of themselves beaming from ear to ear on their big day. One friend even had her arms open wide in the air, head lifted to the sky. I imagine her twirling in circles like Julie Andrews playing Maria von Trapp in ‘The Sound of Music.’ It was a beautiful picture. Really, it was.
I, on the other hand, am more like Veruca Salt than Maria von Trapp. Like a bratty kid being forced to leave the toy aisle, I find myself kicking and screaming and throwing a royal, ugly fit. There is nothing stylish. Nothing graceful. Nothing pretty happening here. Look away. I’m hideous.
Okay, I may be exaggerating just a little, but you get the gist. This hasn’t been an easy transition for me. And as I ruminate on this (as any good over-analyzer does), I have come to the following conclusions.
Eight of them. One for each day left in my 30s.
Our culture places a lot of value on youth.
And I get it. Youth is cool. It’s fun. It’s freedom. It also can be kind of crazy. And emotional. And confusing. It’s a time of age when people may or may not decide to eat laundry detergent because they want YouTube views.
We idolize people because of their age. They know the best songs and hottest trends. They tell you the names of the most popular actors and actresses and come up with cool slang words like “on fleek” and “lit.” They wear mini skirts and don’t have to worry about varicose veins or cellulite. Wrinkles and stretch marks aren’t even a topic of discussion.
And do you know what? At one time I did all of those things, too. (Except eat laundry detergent. I never did that.) I had my time. My teens, my 20s, and my 30s were well lived. And now it’s time to move on. This is their time.
When you are nearing your forties, medical professionals feel the need to point out that things are about to “go downhill.”
And when you are huffing and puffing as you talk to your friends who are 40 and over, hoping they will deny all of this mumbo-jumbo about your eye-sight and your skin and your weight and your sex drive – they look at you with defeat in their eyes, slowly nod their heads and confirm this not mumbo-jumbo, but is in fact true. Grrrr.
For some odd reason, it was decided that every decade from forty on needs to be celebrated with the color black and other paraphernalia to emphasize what the medical professionals are telling you – you’re over the hill and on your way down.
Didn’t they get the memo that black is for funerals and mourning – which is the exact opposite of a Birthday?! Shouldn’t celebrating another year of life always be played out in full color?
And what’s up with the Over the Hill signs and walking sticks and erection pills and the diaper mounted in a case with a sign that says “In Case of Emergency Break Open” just in case, God forbid, you really do have that emergency and just so happen to have that diaper-in-a-case tucked away in your back pocket – which nobody would. Ever. (My husband was the proud recipient of that one on his 40th.) I feel like Seinfeld….and just want to yell out, “What’s the deal?!” Come on people. Birthday merchandising needs a once over.
Someone sold me a lie that I am getting “old” and I completely bought it (that value on youth thing I was talking about).
If I really stop all of my lamenting about turning 40 and think about it – I am not old, nor am I getting old. Of course to a kid I’m old, but when I was four somebody who was eight seemed old. Age is completely relative to the amount of time you’ve lived.
I remember perfectly clearly sitting at a bar on my 25th Birthday with some friends and thinking I was “too old” to be there. What the heck?! Can someone please go back and throw a glass of water on that girl’s face? What was I thinking?! Come to think of it, I can remember having this feeling numerous times in my life – going all the way back to my graduation from high school. Yep. At the ripe young age of 18, I felt old.
I am pretty sure my 50-year-old self and 60-year-old self, and hopefully on down the line to the age of 100 or more would love to come back and throw water on my face, too. I have been buying that lie, but I think it’s time for me to return it for something of a little more value.
Between the war of the high heel and the flat there is a definite champion.
In my mind it is the flat. In no way am I putting down you lovely ladies who sport the high heel. I say kudos to you. But for me, personally, comfort wins.
There was once a time when I would put on my heels and spend an entire night out walking and dancing and trying to mask my pain. I would throw my shoes off the minute I walked through the door and bask in the feeling of sweet relief.
Now, as my Birthday party is approaching, I have thought about how cute it would be to wear heels for the night, but then I stop and think. Do I really want to be uncomfortable and forced to sit down? For what? Why in the world would I want to spend a night with the feeling of pain? No way. I’m over trying to impress people. I will look good enough in my flats. As I said before, comfort wins.
I have a fear that the dreams I have been chasing are slipping out of my reach.
There is some irrational fear in my mind that I would not apply to any other person – which shows how irrational it is. I fear my dreams of writing a book, or running a marathon, or traveling to Europe are slipping out of my grasp. That, for some odd reason, turning 40 signifies the hourglass has turned and I am running out of time.
Which makes no sense.
If someone who was 65 or 70 said to me they wanted to write a book, I would completely tell them they could. Absolutely. So, why should it be any different for me?
I believe the passing of another decade should only reinforce all of the possibilities that a decade holds. It is amazing to think of all that can happen in 10 years. It’s time to kiss those fears goodbye and chase those dreams. They exist to be captured.
All of those friends who are optimistic about the forties being that much better than previous decades are probably right.
The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin. No longer am I easily swayed by the thoughts and opinions of others (which is why I wear flats.) I want people to like me, of course, but am not devastated if they do not. I recognize my talents and my quirks. And I am okay with both. More so than in any other time in my life, I find happiness just being myself.
Life is like cheese and wine — it gets better with age.
So grab a cheese board, pop a cork and let’s start celebrating.
And if you are approaching a big milestone in your life and have felt like like I did (like your own special variety of Veruca Salt) it’s okay. As I have written this post, I have managed to find my inner Maria von Trapp. I may not be spinning in circles quite yet, but I am closer to that then falling on the ground kicking and screaming.
Milestones are meant to be celebrated. In the case of another decade passing, it signifies the end of something fantastic and the start of something fantastic as well. With each passing year, we grow more into who we were created to be.
Our culture may place value on youth, but let’s not forget the incredible value of the wisdom that comes from living and experiencing life.
Eight days to go.
I have a feeling when the time comes, you may find me beaming from ear to ear, arms open wide in the air, head lifted to the sky.
It’s time to grab the camera. Ready or not, 40 here I come.