Celebrating my 39th year feels so ho hum. Is this a result of pandemic blues or is it really all downhill after 40? I polled my peers, my elders, and what I learned about moving out of your 30’s and into your 40’s shifted my perspective greatly. Short answer, yes, it’s downhill, but not for long.
No More Birthdays
I prepared for my 29th birthday. Declaring that it was my last birthday and that it was just going to be anniversaries of my 29th birthday going forward, I went all out! Of course this was before children when I had disposable income. I rented a venue, I got food catered, I got a pony keg from my favorite brewery and I invited all of my friends and family. We had a blast!
My now husband, then boyfriend, used his bookbinding skills to craft me a handmade journal that everyone wrote in. Still to this day my favorite birthday gift. I even gave a speech. It was a party to remember! Partly because it was my self-declared last birthday and partly because in six months I packed up my life and moved from Kansas to New York. It was my last hurrah in more ways than one.
I Have Loved My 30’s
Looking back on the last nine years, my 30’s are going to be hard to beat. I had a very successful career on Long Island, NY, Queens and Brooklyn. Married my true partner and companion. Became a mom and birthed three beautiful babies. I reinvented myself as a Stay At Home Mom and re-found my identity by making peace with motherhood (that one took most of my 30’s). I started a nonprofit.
On my 38th birthday I declared that I was going to celebrate my 39th year the same way I celebrated my 29th. But as the time sped by, I found myself less and less inclined to do so. A big contributing factor: 2020 and 2021 were mostly spent in survival mode. I also was consumed by the thoughts that my big milestones were over. That going forward it’s celebrating my children’s achievements and I would just kind of shrink into the background. That I would spend my 40’s on the shelf because just to maintain what I have achieved so far — raising three small humans, running Stork Support — has required me to put much of myself on the back burner.
So, I reached out to my community about what I could look forward to in my 40’s and it recharged my enthusiasm for getting older. Down hill is nothing to be bummed about after all. Here are the top three takeaways I heard loud and clear from the women in my community, which, of course, included my own mother.
1. You Cannot Fill From An Empty Cup
We’ve all heard this before, but how many of us actually practice it? We know to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping others. Self care has become trendy even. Yet to actually practice this truth still doesn’t make it on the priority list. Looking back on my 20’s and 30’s I have consistently worked myself to the point of unhealthy exhaustion. Good news! That’s going to change in my 40’s. With overwhelming consensus, your 40’s are a time where you have to take care of yourself and therefore you do because you can also more clearly see that outside validation doesn’t empower you. You empower you. Your insightful care to who you are and what you need has great capacity to grow and strengthen in this decade.
2. Embrace, Be Open, Renew
Now is a time to embrace new opportunities, but also be open to the renewal of where you are. I’m not feeling new opportunities right now in my life, but many women in my circle found themselves trying a completely new path than what they were on during their transition to their 40’s. The point is, whether you are trying something completely different for your life, or you are committed to the path you are on, be open to the gift of renewal. This is a time to renew your relationship with yourself. Your outside achievements cannot hold a candle to your inner light. Sit in the discomfort of having to unlearn a few decades of limiting beliefs knowing that when you stand, you will be standing for yourself and the magic that is you.
3. It’s a Roller Coaster!
So, maybe it is down hill right now. And it will be down hill again. Because, guess what? There will be another climb in your future again, and again. Like the waves on the ocean. Or hills and valleys. There will always be times in our life where we may feel like we are falling. Or times when we feel like we are climbing. And times when we can just appreciate being. Life does seem to move faster and faster as you age, so you have more opportunities to go with the flow. To be at peace with what you are experiencing now and not judge it because you know it will soon change.