writer, listener

Turning 40: Obligatory Heartening Internet Edition

on March 18, 2015

Thirty was weird. Fine but weird. That was the year I quit my then-dream job, dropped out of my PhD program, sold my house, and moved to an island. But 40? Everybody seems to think 40 feels really, really good. And I’ll let you know tomorrow, but I’m confident I’ll concur.

I’m pretty sure I’ll tell you tomorrow that 40 is motherfucking wonderful, actually, because approaching 40 has been this fantastic process that leaves me feeling smarter and more confident in ways my 20-something self would say are completely baseless. Yeah, I’m definitely feeling all those unreasonably positive things I believed people were lying about feeling as they reached the point of halfwayish.

I bought bigger jeans on my approach to 40, which I do every decade or so. But for the first time, in the most genuinely honest and self-aware corner of my brain, I just don’t feel any kind of self-loathing whatsoever. I’m not compelled to rationalize moving up a size–not even to myself. After getting four decades under my belt–winning some, losing plenty, saying hello and good-bye to the most important people in my life–something like the size of my jeans feels so trivial that it’s fallen clear off the spectrum of things to give any shits at all about. Which sounds like a rationalization, I realize, because I’m so aware of myself now, see?

In addition to spending far less time trying to look maximally appealing to others, I spend less time silently and harshly judging people who spend lots of time and energy trying hard to look maximally appealing to others. I was her in my twenties. In my thirties, I transitioned away from her and felt anybody like her was sad and vain. But now, in general, I feel myself making fewer swift judgments, especially about people I don’t know.

I have fewer and better friends.

I say what I mean and I do it far less apologetically than ever.

I’m doing what I love with and for people I love.

The drive that moves me toward my professional goals is healthy, but I’ve done enough in my lifetime to leave me satisfied in that area. Anything else is gravy–gravy I’m hoping and planning to pour on thick, of course. What matters most to me, though, is seeing each of my kids find their way in this world. I’d give up everything for them, which I hope goes without saying.

This has probably read like a series of cliches about aging. But that’s another thing that’s happened–I realize and find comfort in the notion that, while I’m lucky to be around, I’m just not that special. We’re all so similar in what motivates us and matters to us–love, I guess, in various incarnations–than I ever cared to realize before. And it’s good. I’m good. Forty’s good.

16 responses to “Turning 40: Obligatory Heartening Internet Edition

  1. Marie says:

    Welcome to 40! After turning 50 last October, I’m just so grateful to be alive…especially because I have 3 very close friends who’ve survived Stage 3 breast cancer. The older I get, the more I realize that aging is so much more preferable than the alternative! 🙂

  2. Kathleen Garcia-Zavala says:

    Your words speak truth.We did all of our learning, growing and finding ourselves over the years.
    Now it is about Us.Our children being the best they can and being their biggest supporters.We are our own worst critics but those that matter and love Us see past the younger years.

  3. Emily says:


  4. Dude, just wait until 50! It’s actually quite freeing to stop giving any shits at all about SO many things. And yeah: love. Love is what it’s all about. Happy birthday! Here’s to making gravy!

  5. Britni says:

    Thanks for sharing, Rhonda. I really enjoy your insight, wisdom and authenticity–in this post and all the other ones I read! May your forties be as fulfilling as ringing in 40. Happy Birthday!

  6. Richard J. Niedzwiecki says:

    You’re only as old as you feel. I’ll bet on some days Dutch can take you to the old age side of the house from zero to 100 in nothing flat. lol

  7. Nostrikethat says:

    *Great big Internet Cheers!*

  8. Barb says:

    You don’t get older…you get more mature, like a fine wine! Enjoy every moment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: