SO THIS IS FORTY

I woke up, rushed to the mirror, and stared at my reflection. At first glance everything was the same. My lips were the same. My nose was the same. My ears were the same. However, the corners of my eyes were etched with thin lines, gray hair graced my hairline, and moles dotted the landscape of my once smooth skin. All are telltale signs of aging. These changes didn’t happen overnight but it seems like only yesterday my skin was smooth and unmarred and all of my hair was the same color. What happened? Perhaps the Steve Miller band said it best, while I was busy taking my youth for granted, time kept on slipping into the future.

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I vividly recall turning twenty-one and going to a nightclub for the first time. I wore a small scarf around my neck and my sweater was unbuttoned at the bottom to show my belly button; I was going for the sexy, yet sophisticated look. I was excited about getting older. I couldn’t wait to be grown, out of my parents’ house, and making my own rules. In my twenties, I finished school, started a career, and bought my first home. I achieved a lot and yet I was incredibly insecure and constantly in search of validation. I weighed 110 pounds my first year in law school. A friend nicknamed me Tuna because I ate one tuna sandwich a day. I thought if only I could lose 5 more pounds, then I would be happy. My romantic and platonic relationships were often unhealthy. Many times I remained in them past their expiration dates because I was “in love.” I thought even painful love was better than no love at all. Fortunately, I made it out of my twenties bruised but not defeated.

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I also remember turning thirty. I celebrated by going to dinner, dancing, and traveling to Europe. I wanted to do it big because to me thirty signaled old age and the end of fun. Now I realize I was a fool. I had no idea that in my thirties I would really start to live. I had a little more confidence. Although I was still obsessed with dieting and being the “perfect” weight, I no longer aimed to be 105 pounds. Instead, I wanted to be 106. My body changed due to a slower metabolism and multiple pregnancies. My once unmarred, tight, abdomen now has c-section scars and a belly button that pops out at inconvenient times! While I am not happy about these changes, I realize before them, I was just as insecure about my body. Fortunately, with the physical changes came my most precious gifts, Max and Myles.  Looking back I wish I’d spent more time in my thirties appreciating who I was. It was a great decade. I got married, had two babies, established my career, and began investigating and investing in my passions (international travel, sewing, blogging, and running). I like to think I got closer to discovering who I am in my thirties.

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Yesterday, I said goodbye to my thirties and begrudgingly said hello to forty.  My dad reminded me that I am now middle-aged; I instantly felt sad. Thanks dad. He said someone recently asked him if he had any children in their forties and he quickly responded, “no way!” before realizing his eldest, me, was almost forty. Clearly he is getting older too. I felt sad because in some ways turning forty means my best years are behind me. My childbearing years are coming to a close (I tied my tubes so that isn’t a real concern), my metabolism is slower so I am not as fit as I used to be, and I prefer napping to partying. My dad said at least I am not in my sixties- he has started getting calls from telemarketers offering him depends samples.

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To celebrate this milestone I purchased tickets to Australia, went to dinner with friends and family, and attempted to dance the night away. I’m definitely older, instead of shutting down the dance floor, Kwabs and I rushed home and promptly fell asleep. It was a great but exhausting birthday.

I want to leave my forties with fewer regrets than previous decades. I vow to love myself more and cut myself some slack. I want to be more accepting of my imperfections. Someone recommended that we live each day as though it were our last. I want to do that! I want to step outside of my comfort zone more. Hell, I want to eat more chocolate cake even though the number on the scale might increase.

Forty is not the new twenty or the new thirty to me, it is still forty but it is new and improved. I am trying not to buy into societies message that aging is a bad thing and we need to do all we can to stay young. That mindset makes me feel bad; after all aging is a part of life and the alternative is death. I think about my relatives and friends who are no longer here and realize I am blessed to see forty. Changing my mindset will be hard, because I have been conditioned to embrace youth and shun evidence of aging. However, in my moments of clarity, I must acknowledge along with completing four decades of life, I am wiser, kinder, and more beautiful than ever…at least that is what I will continue to tell myself. And better yet, now I know it for myself, I don’t need validation…okay, maybe sometimes.

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “SO THIS IS FORTY

  1. You stole my idea! I’ve made collages to show my journey from teens through my thirties, the insecurities I faced & what I would tell my teenage self, my twenties self, and so on for my 40th birthday (fast approaching). Lol, as Geminis, I believe we deal with perfectionist issues, I certainly have even when people are telling me you’re fine as you are, I see little things, lol.

    As usual, your writing is spot on; is descriptive, transparent, honest & authentic. I love it. As for me, I’m embracing 40!

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    1. Girl, I’m trying to embrace it too! It just seems like it came so fast. I really am puzzled by how fast the time has passed. I was a mess in my twenties because I was so insecure. I was better in my thirties and I hope to be even better in my forties.

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      1. The best age you will ever be is the age you are right now. ENJOY EVERY DAY OF THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR AFTER. You are an awesome creation of almighty God!

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  2. “I no longer aimed to be 105. Instead, I wanted to be 106.” Haha.

    I’m so behind on reading your posts! Welcome to forty! I think it’s going to be the best yet. And yes, even though the fact of being 40 makes us feel aged, my mother is REALLY feeling old about being old enough to have her kids in their forties, too! Love your insight, Camile… and Happy Birthday! 🎉

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  3. WONDERFUL! !! I thought I would never be 40 but when it came I was on one of my many “Welcome to Forty” adventures…in Mexico! You have spoken your truth, my truth and the truth of many of us that shuttered at the thought of checking the next box “40-44”, but are now proud to embrace this new chapter!!!…Thank you!

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  4. Welcome to the forties (wouldn’t have known), start looking forward to 41. This comes from someone who is 41 and looking forward to 42. When I look back, the various decades were spent evolving and now I look at my forties as the time where I truly begin to enjoy that evolution. I appreciate the past and look forward to the future….only a middle aged person and older can speak like that.
    Great article x

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  5. I’m composing my turning 40 speech in my head as well. I been in shock since our 20yr H.S. reunion. Embracing is all I can do. We in this together y’all. I love it and I love our flawed selves. I despise the idea of perfection, what a boring concept. 40 & Fabulous works for me!!!

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  6. Congratulations!!! I am excited about turning 40. Another year of life, I anticipate greater wisdom, confidence in myself, greater achievements, and do much more! Thankful to God for life and a full and blessed one. I am embracing the journey and not only stopping to smell the roses, I’m purchasing my own to treat myself because I am soo worth it. You are tooo! A great read as always. Celebrating the fabulous 40’s with you my sister💎🎂👑

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    1. I love it…purchasing your own because you are worth it! Yes!! I love your attitude. You are right, we are worth it! I’m definitely going to try to live the heck out of this life. Thanks for reading.

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  7. My 35th birthday is on the 18th and I was so dreading it!!! Looking back at my past on all of my shoulda, coulda, and woulda’s in life. Then one day I decide I’m excited about turning 35!! This is a new year for me!!! So I’m going to take the next year reinventing me taking a lil bit of ole school Jessica and mixing it in with this new Jessica to make an even more patience, caring, sweet talking, adventurous, loving , happy , intentional about what I dream for my life, God-fearing Proverbs 31 woman!!! Thank you for the reminder that just because I’m older doesn’t mean it’s the end but the beginning of a new and even more exciting ME!!!!
    Enjoy 40 !!! And you know you don’t look over 31!!!!😀

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  8. My uncle told me that my mom cried when she turned 39. I told him I can relate. However, I look forward to growing older… wiser…now I start with embracing fabulous 40. Thanks for your article.

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  9. Isn’t it crazy when you look back over your life and at times all you can do is shake your head. I have always said that life will start for me when I turn 50. I don’t exactly know why but that’s the feeling I have. I’ll be 47 this year.

    I enjoyed reading this as I always do when you post.

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