That’s Right. Forty-Fucking-Five.

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It’s my birthday and I’ll boast if I want to. Actually, it’s less of a boast and more a combination of false bravado (if I scream it till my throat is raw it won’t seem as scary) and some moral imperative to be a role model (we can’t exclusively expect the Gloria Steinem’s of the world to be the ones willing to announce This Is What [enter age here] Looks Like). 

I’ve lived through enough decades at this point to know that in my 50’s, this post and it’s intended effect will seem cute, if not naïve.

I remember being in my 20’s – my unilateral focus on landing a husband to provide me with the family stability I lacked growing up, lest I reach the critical age of 30 when I was certain that a) Age would make me look as though a train had hit me, and b) Said train would render me so desperate to marry that my husband would be in depends by the time I was middle-aged.

I spent my 30’s eagerly examining my life in that thing called therapy, mostly with therapists who validated me into a victim until I was so filled with self-pity and anger that it’s a wonder I speak to any family members today (for the record, I speak to more than half). I also divorced that guy and married a woman.

Now I’m smack in the middle of my 40’s, and let me tell you: It’s nothing like what I expected. I don’t think I look very different. My brain works a whole lot better than it used to (I credit physical exercise, meditation and Lumosity for this – in that order). My career is more fulfilling than I ever dreamed. I wake up every day grateful for the series of personal mistakes that resulted in derailing me from my chosen career and led me on this journey to be a shrink. I don’t hurt. Not physically and not so much emotionally. And that’s really fucking different. I had enough pain in me to fill a psych ward at times. And I dance. I mean, really dance. I’m honored to train with 20-somethings, many of whom are professional dancers, most of which probably don’t know how old I am. It’s for them and for my young adult clients that I’m writing this post.

Here’s the skinny on your 40’s:

You’re going to be able to breathe in your pores. Maybe not perfectly, but a hell of a lot better than you do now. You have no idea how this one difference is going to change your life, because you’ve spent your life suffocating in your skin. You’re not going to give a shit what other people think of you, because you’ll realize how infrequently they do. So all that energy that you expend trying to get people to like you or to view you through a certain lens is energy that you’ll be able to use in other parts of your life.

You’re not going to look half as bad as you think. Most of how you’ll look will be contingent on your lifestyle. Eat clean today. Sleep a lot now. Find some type of physical exercise that lights you on fire and never stop doing it. I only recently stopped getting carded – and most of my friends who are in their late 30’s still do. And every month I’m a stronger dancer than the month before.

You’ll have a tribe – a family of choice – and that tribe will show up for you in ways that will alternately bring tears to your eyes and blot the tears from your eyes. They’ll fill your table on holidays and on rainy days. They’ll call you out on your bullshit when you ask and they’ll keep quiet (mostly) when you need.

You’ll realize how little space you need and how unimportant things really are. This goes back to the first point: When you can breathe better in your pores, when you care less about what others think, you don’t spend money on stupid shit. And when you don’t spend money on stupid shit, you have money to spend on important shit – like donating to charity when there’s a crisis or like flying out to see your sister just because.

There you have it folks. I’m signing off now to go enjoy my birthday. Wishing you a happy September 16th.

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