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Whomever said your 40’s are great are full of shit.
We’ve all heard and read it – “40 is the new 30”, “40 and Fabulous!”, “Age is Just a Number!”, and the list of magazine headlines that prop you up go on and on. I’m going to call bullshit on them all. I hate my 40’s. Don’t get this confused with thinking that my life isn’t great – because my life is pretty great and yes, I’m happy. I have a super existence, I travel the world, I don’t work at a desk, I make a meager living (that’s not too super – but it works), and I have great friends around the world. All I’m saying is that aging sorta sucks.
Warning…men…you may just want to skip this post if you are sensitive to female hormonal emotional talk. Go read this article of mine instead – Topless Dancing in Paris
Going Back to Puberty
I still remember being in 5th grade and having all the boys leave class for their ‘talk’ and the girls remained in Mrs. Sawyer’s room to watch our ‘Turning into a Woman’ video. I remember distinctly thinking – this doesn’t sound like fun, but yet everyone is telling me this ‘flowering into a woman’ thing is great and I should like it and want it.
Then when I did get my period my first thought was, this process lasts for 40 years??????!!! This sucks. I tried to mask my hatred for the whole process and be like other girls my age who seemed to be all excited about this process, but I thought that it was all just super gross and a pain in the ass.
There was nothing particularly fun about puberty for the people around me either. I was a ball of emotions, I had major self-esteem issues, was self-conscious and thought I was generally worthless. Then when I left for college I sort of snapped out of it. My confidence in my 20’s grew and grew and I settled into the adult I wanted to be throughout my 20’s and 30’s; a confident, smart, witty, sexy, athletic woman. In fact I was so confident that I devoured being single and independent – it was my identity.
The Beast of Perimenopause
Fast forward to present day – my 46th birthday. I woke up this morning in a sweat, immediately kicking off the covers and lying in bed in a puddle of sweaty anxiety thinking about everything I was behind on. My mind was racing but going nowhere. On top of all of this, I was another year older.
Riding the Hormone Roller Coaster
I can’t even organize my own life my thoughts are so scatterbrain at times. My ability to focus has gone to hell. I’m not sure that I was ever great at focus – but now I really suck. I’m sure that our digital lives and addiction to screens also has something to do with my scatterbrain-ness. But age and perimenopause shit doesn’t help.
I’ve also noticed this new trait creep up on me much like the wrinkles on my face (wrinkles are sneaky bastards); I can have an entire emotional nuclear meltdown that I can sort of see happening and can’t pull out of. I feel as if I’m a spectator on the bleachers watching it all happen – an out of body experience.
Thanks to my hormonal 40’s, most days I feel that I have completely digressed to being that 13-year-old teenager again in puberty. Self esteem plummeting up and down like a roller coaster that makes you want to vomit. I feel like the real me has been kidnapped and is being held hostage somewhere.
I can’t sleep like I used to. I have gained weight no matter what I do. I can’t make decisions. I cry at the drop of a hat. My knee hurts and makes a clicking noise when I go up stairs. My eyesight just gets worse and worse. I’m starting to get a double chin. I have tendinitis in my foot and started taking arthritis meds to heal it last week.
And I just don’t feel sexy. I feel like I’m a really interesting person to get to know, I feel smart, worldly…but not sexy. Sexy was my 30’s. Sarcastic and double chins are my 40’s.
I don’t understand the people who say that they have come into their own in their 40’s and they have learned to not care what other people think – they say they are comfortable in their own skin. I apparently never got that magic glass of positive self-loving Kool-Aid. That’s certainly not my 40’s. I’m not comfortable in my own wrinkly skin and I do care what other people think about me most of the time. Truth.
Who knows – maybe that will change. Maybe I’ll have an epiphany one day and turn into that magazine headline that pisses me off. Or maybe I’ll just keep on keeping on. Keep on writing, keep on moving, keep on aging.
Finding the Silver Lining in Your 40’s
The good news is that travel makes you younger – at least that’s what it does for me. This is probably one of the main reasons I keep traveling. I recently told someone that one of the biggest things that travel has taught me is how to be in an uncomfortable situation for a prolonged time. Maybe that’s just what my 40’s are; a decade of an uncomfortable situation.
My 40’s aren’t fabulous, I’m not excited about turning 46 today – not at all. However that doesn’t mean I won’t be celebrating it as if I’m 28 again. You can’t stop time, so you just go on. You rely on your friends who have your back no matter what. You don’t look in the mirror too closely. You soak up every compliment about how you look good at your age or how people though you were younger than you are.
And you never EVER pick up one of those stupid magazines that tell you to feel fabulous.