I don’t know what it is about turning 40 that has me, well, quietly freaking out.
I think it has less to do with actually aging — I feel 28 and eat like a teenager — and more to do with one simple fact: I like being in my 30s.
I was 25 when I got my first “real” job, one that utilized my college degree and gave me health benefits. I walked — OK, stormed — into the newsroom full of ideas and enthusiasm, exactly what you’d expect from a recent college grad in her 20s.
And while my effervescent personality was mostly embraced by my coworkers, I was still considered a kid in the field. My age — and perhaps my eating habits — kept me in the “Oh, she’s just a baby” category, and I felt like I always had to prove myself to the office veterans.
Fast forward to 30, though, and things suddenly changed.
While my metabolism slowed down — honestly, it felt like my body completely shut down on my birthday — my self-confidence grew. I felt competent and appropriately cynical, still idealistic and hopeful but more honest and grounded. I found a depth in life I didn’t realize was there when I was younger. The way I viewed people, their actions, the world — that all changed. It was a paradigm shift in many ways — and I liked it.
Turning 30 wasn’t a big deal at all. In fact, I actually looked forward to it. I wouldn’t be dismissed as some young kid with no experience and no idea what life was really about anymore. I would be 30 — and I would have arrived.
(Except, to be honest, I had the stomach flu on my birthday and all I remember was throwing up the cheesecake my mom made for me in my parent’s bathroom. It wasn’t one of my finer moments.)
But in a month I’ll be 40 — and it’s not sitting well with me.
I don’t want to be 25 again. (Thanks, it was fun, but I’m over it.) And screw going back to high school. But 30 — that was a great decade.
I worked in a lively newsroom with talented writers, many of whom are still my close friends. I fought for sustainable fishing practices as part of a marine conservation campaign with The Nature Conservancy. I taught journalism, developed products for Rainbow Drive-In, traveled around the world, grew plants, killed plants, wrote more stories about native birds than I ever thought possible, got married, got divorced, got married again, acquired three dogs and five chickens and a baby goat. It’s been quite a whirlwind.
People who are beyond 30 have told me the 40s are the best. But I’m skeptical.
The 30s were great. Did you read that list? How can you beat that?