15 November 2012

Dear Leeza34 : Advice on Milestone Birthdays

Dear Leeza34, 

I have a big birthday coming up. I'm going to be 40. How do I not freak out about this?

Young at Heart.

The funny thing about adulthood is it just gradually happens. One day you're looking at adults as authority figures who are in the driver's seat and then the next, those same adults are your goofball peers and you realize no one is actually driving this crazy thing. No one has ever been at the wheel, and that lesson is both liberating and terrifying.

You may have a house, a car, a family and a job. You may have bought stocks, invested in a 401(k), signed a mortgage and filed your own taxes. You might wear comfortable clothing and sensible shoes, or refrain from dying your hair pink because you're "not 17 anymore." You might get nervous around teenagers because you don't know what the hell they're up to anymore or what weird drugs they're obviously on (or maybe that's just me.) These are all the things that make you feel like an adult. However forty is the age you are irrevocably inducted into the club, whether you like it or not.

And then you start feeling a new sensation besides adulthood... getting older. This is a markedly more grim feeling that the halfway point of your life is on the horizon. You look in the mirror to see a face that has changed, a body that doesn't bounce back like it used to. Perhaps you've been diagnosed with your first chronic ache or disorder. Maybe too much spice gives you heartburn now or you have acquired some other lame yet chilling reminder of your mortality. It's a bummer.

So, I am going to give you advice in two steps:

Step One: Freak out. Don't stifle it or stop it. Cry. Ask yourself what the hell you've done so far and what are you doing now? Take a good look at yourself. What do you love about your life? What are you missing? What fulfills you? What stresses you out? All of it. Get it all out of your system (but do not act on impulses!)

Done? Exhausted? Good.

Step Two: Get over it. Forty isn't old. There are plenty of amazing athletes and hot celebrities in the forty plus club, Google them for inspiration. Then, make a change in your lifestyle. Eat whole foods. Take up a form of exercise, whether it be running or a local yoga class. Take a good multivitamin. Do something that is going to make you feel good on the inside and it will not only remind you how long of a life you still have left in you, it will help you feel good while you live it. Getting older isn't so scary when you feel healthy and energetic.

And while you're doing a little housecleaning, remember all those things that stressed you out from your freak out phase? Get rid of them. Is there something you've been putting off? Get it done. Something you want to try? Do it. These don't have to be big, bucket-list type things. It could be learning to knit or taking a class at the local community college. You could try bellydancing or martial arts. Break the mold a little bit and liven things up.

By the time forty one rolls around, you will have forgotten this silly crisis and you'll still be a decade away from the next one.

Happy Birthday!


cath c said...

happy birthday, liz! and welcome to the club.

i took up belly dancing at 45. :)

EM Hum said...

Woa there. My birthday is next week. I'm just giving advice. You can welcome me in 6 years. :)