I recently blew out 40 candles. (Figuratively, of course. Who has that kind of time or air?)
Entering a new decade of life is a time that already brings a lot of self-reflection. Add in that this milestone landed during a global pandemic where I’m home all. the. time. and well, that time for
self-reflection (overthinking) goes into overdrive.
I remember I used to think that 40 seemed so old. It didn’t matter if 40 was supposedly the new 30. It was still associated with being “over the hill,” and I’m not sure I felt prepared to be on the other side of that hill. My husband and I were recently watching the Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere. The show is set in the late ’90s, so naturally, the music was from that decade as well. There’s nothing like listening to the music that saw you through your teenage years and early 20s to make you feel young again. Until it makes you feel really old.
Because now I’m 40. And I’m not quite sure where the past decade has gone?
My 30s were filled with most of my biggest moments in life. My highest highs and my lowest lows. Giving birth to both of my daughters, but also losing a baby. Selling our first home and leaving Chicago, a city that had seen me through so many major life events. Starting a new life in Charleston, where we had only briefly visited. Buying a home. Buying a business. Watching those close to me lose parents and babies. Questioning what the heck I was doing with my life. Questioning who the heck I was.
It’s like I blinked and my 30s flew by. Well, the years did. Some days, many days really, felt very long. With a five year age gap between my two kids, by the time my oldest hit a stage of independence, I had a new baby. They say that your 30s is when you start to figure out important life things like who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life, but I’m still wondering how are you supposed to do that when you’re knee-deep in parenting young children?
I thought by 40, I’d have more answers. But nope, just more questions. Some silly. Some serious. Some scary.
Am I wiser now, or just more cynical about life?
Am I looking back on memories fondly, or bitter that those days are gone? Can I do both?
When we compare ourselves to others that we perceive to have it all together and figured out, I’m wondering what it is exactly that I’m still supposed to be figuring out? Most days, I feel like I’m doing well if I’ve got dinner for that night figured out.
Am I an old young person, or a young old person?
Why am I getting AARP magazines in the mail and seeing ads for Forever 21 pop up on Facebook? Where do I fit?
Why can I vividly remember things that happened over a decade ago and not why I’m standing in front of the refrigerator?
Can I see women in their 20s and feel envious that I’m not them anymore and also grateful that I’m not them anymore?
Am I really qualified to be in charge of two small humans’ lives if I still have to double-check with my own mom half the time to make sure that I’m not totally screwing it all up?
What will I do when my mom isn’t around to answer those questions for me anymore?
Aren’t I too old to care what others think?
Will the push-pull between trying to hurry things up and also slow them down ever stop?
I thought by 40 I’d have it all together.
Turns out, I just have more questions.