Turning 40 for anyone of you who’ve already arrived, is a real mixture of celebration, and then an odd feeling that I should be more upset that I’m leaving my 30’s behind than I’m yet to feel.
You see I’ve always had the image of this fabulous lady I worked with back at Sportsgirl when I was about 17, and she was just so glamorous and cooler than any of us teenage girls, that I could tell she had something that we did not.
She said to me as clear as if it were yesterday, “don’t ever fear turning 40 Amber, it’s the start of the best years of your life!” But what about getting wrinkles I thought, from the base of my shallow little twit mind?
“You truly know who you are by the time you get there, and you know exactly who you want to spend time with. You don’t even end up having sex with people you don’t want to. Or, let’s say, you don’t look back with regret, because you’ve finally worked out what, and who turns you on.”
Ok, a little too much information for the 17-year-old girl I once was. The girl that hadn’t yet decided if she even wanted to have sex just yet, but I clung to the belief that maybe she was right.
Maybe all the trials and tribulations – (the morons, the disasters) leading up to that age, were all about arriving eventually at a place that finally felt like home. Finally, in every way that symbolic home was decorated the way you wanted it to be. Not a lava lamp, or fake fur rug in sight.
And then as I pondered yet again the other day about what a major milestone this day was going to be, I realized that I am healthier physically, and emotionally than I have ever been at any other point in my life. So if those mini axe wounds either side of my mouth have to be there because I laughed my head off for 40 years, then stiff &^%&.
As I sweat my 40 year old butt off on that cross trainer at Next Gen because I am now fuelled with a little more fear that my bum might drop a millimeter or so more, then bring it on. Who cares what gets me on that cross trainer for the first time in my life, as long as I’m on the flipping thing.
Perhaps knowing that I should look after myself health wise more now, is actually a bit of a blessing, because let me give you the tip, for at least 30 of those years I’ve been thrashing the hell out of it, because I guess, I felt I can. “I’m young, I’ll bounce back”, I thought.
Of course I realize down the road that there will be reminders that I’m now of an age that doctors feel I should have more check ups, and maybe that will annoy me at times. I understand that I might get invitations to certain activities that I am not ready to enjoy. But even if those ladies playing Bridge do think I’d make a good player, I will politely tell them “all in good time.”
My attitude really is, would I want to go back to being the girl that was turning 30, who felt that wearing a sequined boob tube to my party was ‘fun’? No, I would not.
Would I still want to be thinking I enjoyed managing bands and living with a nosy, pain in the butt flat mate? No, I sure don’t.
I have never been in a more happy place in my life so I just don’t see why I should mourn. So I say, “goodbye dearest 30’s, I will think of you often, but it’s time to move on because I have a wonderful place to go.”
In only a matter of weeks, I’ll be throwing the biggest party I’ve ever had, for the biggest milestone I’ve ever reached. On August 12th, I’ll be hitting big 40! As you do when a big one is coming your way, it’s natural to take stock of what we’ve achieved, how we envisaged we’d be upon getting to that age, and how we’ll go into it feeling about ourselves! In complete hypocrisy of how women like to think we’re there for each other, what is often the truth is that we women often highlight to each other an unrealistic version of what we should be!
I realized that when I was growing up, I didn’t really have any particular role models which I kind of thought at the time, meant that I was my own person, and it was good that I didn’t focus on any particular person to show me how things should or shouldn’t be done! I have now decided, that that may have been my undoing, and that going into my 40th year, I need to be realistic about who I wanted to strive to become, or I may wind up once again feeling lost!
As we get older, especially as women, it’s hard not to get bogged down by how young we no longer look, and all the things that we no longer have on our side – as opposed to those things we now do! Focusing on how many wrinkles we have, or whether our bottoms are still where we left them at 25, is in a word, ‘futile’! Same goes with being 25, having that great behind, but expecting to have a wealth of wisdom, and life experience on board! Realistically the two don’t often go hand in hand! And no disrespect meant to either ‘tick box’ I’d like to add!
So while watching Oprah Winfrey’s special on ‘Inspiring Women’ the other day, I realized how exciting it was to look forward, thanks to women like Maria Shriver, Billie Jean King, and Gloria Steinhem, who were profiled on this particular show! How beautiful they all were, in so many ways that is earnt only over time!
For instance, I had no idea that ex tennis world champ, Billie Jean King, had not only 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, but had also famously accepted a challenge from former Wimbledon men’s champ, Bobby Riggs who at age 55 yrs, had come out In a match that became dubbed the ‘Battle of the Sexes’, King, watched by over 50 million people around the world, defeated Riggs in what she still describes as the most nerve wracking match of her life! Nerve wracking because “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s [tennis] tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.”
And then looking at the still so beautiful Gloria Stenheim, who was not always so flatteringly dubbed a ‘feminist’ – showed me that age 70 not only can still be stunning to look at, but adds a layer of beauty that cannot be bought over a counter! Her life achievements in bringing society up to speed for women in the areas of equality, that we now take for granted has earnt her the position of ‘inspiring’! Thirty years to achieve an ounce of what she has, certainly seems like a better goal than botoxing myself back to age 30.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting in the next 40 years I am going to defeat any tennis world champs! Nor am I thinking whatever I achieve needs to land me on a talk show! Nor am I holding out hope of ever meeting Elton John, let alone him being inspire to write me a song, but what I do hope we can do as ‘people’ moving into another stage of life, is, to find people that we can look up to, so we don’t get distracted by the hype of the one’s no longer so relevant to where we are!
DO YOU HAVE SOMEONE YOU LOOK UP TO?