In her AMAZING post titled “The Fourth Decade,” Amanda Mininger sends one of her good friends off into his or her fourth decade of life with a miniature-bevy of lists. To me, her most affecting sub-list was “What I’ve Lost:”
What I’ve lost:
1. Unchecked cynicism
2. That horrific sense of panic when something doesn’t go right (I like to think)
3. Deep sadnesses, old hurts, festering wounds…to the extent that I may still remember them, but don’t carry them with me daily
4. Hatred—of myself and others
5. Reliance on anyone or anything to tell me how things are or should be (including the news, self-proclaimed experts, women’s magazines, popular blogs, politicians, social media, conventional wisdom of all kinds, consumer product companies, and what can be deemed orthodoxy in industry, government, religion, economics, medicine, and culture)
As a young woman of only, say, 37ish, I can’t relate. Nope, not at all. But then, why am I writing this post? OK I lied. This list is so true to what I’m feeling about approaching the big 4-0, and I feel… good… about it? Really? Yes. I think I’m pretty sure I do feel… good.
Let me paint you a picture: I LOVED my younger self. I was pretty. I had a bod. I was whip-smart, and had good grades, and got into all the good colleges. I had the best friends a young, impressionable girl dared hope for, and I was really, truly in love with my life. Oh, and my family was pretty darn awesome, too. This sounds like the perfect set up for some sort of mid-life crisis, afraid-to-get-old, stuck-in-the-past, high-school nightmare scenario, doesn’t it?
But guess what! I am relieved to tell you that I have recovered from adolescence intact, and I’m embracing the mature side of life. And for all the reasons listed on the list above. It’s really not what I expected: The things I thought were going to be depressing are the best parts; the parts I thought would be highlights are the downers. For example, I have exactly one friend. My boyfriend. Two if you count our dog. And I am as happy as I have ever been. It’s not depressing at all. I am very fulfilled. We recently went out to a rock concert that started at 9pm in a loud arena full of screaming 16 year-olds. I would have guessed “staying young like that” would be something to be proud of; really, all the kids kind of looked at us like they didn’t know what planet we’d landed off of and they weren’t sure we had the proper ear apparatus to process the same music as them. Ok, not that bad, but you get the idea. We belonged at home, snuggling, watching Kimmy Schmidt!
And, I would argue, its the way that these things totally and completely — and endlessly — surprise you that is the best part of getting older. Younger people are starting to look at us like we’ve got nothing left to look forward to. But we know the shackles of the conformist world they’re always complaining about are falling off and as we move out of the “young” world, we begin to see how much “cooler” the real world is! Oh god, do I sound like I’m 40 or 80? Lololololololololololol.
Anyway, I’m only turning 38 this coming year, but in honor of #EverydayInspiration Day 2, here is my list of…
The Top 5 Things I like about being in my late 30s.
- I can listen to absolutely any type of music, at any time and in any order, and enjoy it because there is not a “DJ” critiquing my “taste!”
- I decided to stop proving my smarts after I nearly dropped out of Berkeley. Sometimes, smarts can be fun, like when Neil DeGrasse Tyson rocks your world by explaining some random scientific theory in a totally accessible way. You know what’s not fun? Yeah. 35,000 science nerds trying to out-tech each other (and by that I mean they literally speak in the most technical jargon they can muster. All. Night. Long.)
- I am finding out I’m, like, a really good person and stuff. No really. When you’re a kid you think “doing a good deed” means you’re a saint! Getting older means expressing your heart every day (hopefully.) And thus, we learn to love ourselves, which leads me to…
- The Significant Other. You reach an age where meeting a life partner doesn’t seem like the world’s most daunting task. Like the song says, “Birds do it, Bees do it….Just do it!” And no, I am not minimizing how hard dating is. Trust me I know. I’m just saying, it’s generally much less traumatic at this point!
- This could be the best of all: I know how to take care of myself. I could have avoided so much trouble if only I had known these things which I learned along the way. But oh well, now I know, and my Chi-weenie and I are comin-ta–get-ya!