Tomorrow I hit a new decade, a “milestone birthday” as some like to call it. I turn 40. Yep, it’s my turn now as I have watched others over the years hit this number and survive the change. So why is turning the Big 4-0 such a huge deal for our society? Maybe because when you are entering your twenties or thirties, there seem to be prescribed “rules” as to what needs to happen for your life. You might get a job, finish college, start a career, get married, have kids, etcetera, etcetera. But no one really has a prescribed roadmap for your forties. You are supposed to have already achieved all these other things in your life, right?
I look back on the last decade of my life and contemplate what I feel I have “achieved” as an individual. And I have to give myself some space for self-reflection. My thirties have been a ride, let me tell you. I had babies, lost a parent, discovered friendships, and experienced quite a bit of personal heartache. But I also learned a load about myself and the person I want to be as I enter into a new phase of life. When I hit 39, I wanted to wrap up this decade by stretching myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I called it my #fearlesstoforty journey. Because I chose to look things I have always “feared” straight in the face, I gave myself the gift of personal growth and new relationships. I became a part of movements and organizations that have opened my eyes and changed my viewpoints about how I see things in this world. I grew deeper in my faith with Jesus and let go of what I thought it meant to be “religious.”
In the last ten years I have learned to let things slide off my back more and to not try so hard to fit into some ridiculous mold prescribed by society. I take social media with a grain of salt because I know it’s not the end-all, be-all in how I live on a daily basis. I have learned how to listen to my body; to know when to back off and when to push harder. I see things through such a different lens than I did when I was 29, I couldn’t ever go back in time and be the same person. The challenges I faced in my thirties have given me a jump-start to the personal growth many people think they will have when they hit their forties. It’s like I am painting my own canvas with as many colors and brush strokes imaginable in my mind.
When we look at our own lives, it’s wise to not try and compare it with others around us because no one life is the same. We all have our own battles to forage through, and we all respond differently to the environment around us. But what we can do is look at ourselves as pieces of artwork in the making. We are journeys of expressions and experiences, hidden diamonds underneath the rubble of life. And one thing I want to remember as I go forward is to respect and love myself, to not let inner demons try and determine the level of my worth in this world. Because I know what drives me, what irritates me, what makes me happy, and where I am the most vulnerable. That, my friends, is what turning 40 means to me.