Lately the magic elves at Facebook, you know the ones that somehow always know everything from what big events are coming up in your life to what beauty products you have been researching, have been sending me tidbits of information on turning… (gulp)… the big 40. With articles entitled ‘Why Forty is the New Thirty,” and “Twenty Things I Can Do in My 40’s That I Could Not Do in My 20’s”, I could not help but feel inspired to write my own article, because guess what? When I turned 20 I did not need any articles to prove that turning 20 would be amazing.
No matter what these articles say the truth is the things I could do at 20 that I cannot do now were pretty awesome!
1. Stay awake until 4 am and sleep in until noon.
In my 20’s I would not even leave the house until 11:00 pm, getting home before 4 in the morning was a disappointment; closing down the bar was a must! Now if I am up until 4 am it is not by choice, it is because of a sick child, a sick dog, or because I am worrying about having a sick child or a sick dog. And no matter how little sleep I get, I cannot sleep until past 8:00… seriously… no matter how hard I try.
2. Get ready in five minutes.
I could roll out of bed and basically be ready. I did not need makeup. It was a choice to wear it to enhance my features not to cover up something or give the illusion of the ‘no makeup, makeup look’. Spending 20 minutes putting on makeup to make it look like I am not wearing makeup… is that something to be excited about as I near 40?
3. Spend a small fortune on shoes.
Of course it was a luxury but I could do it if it was something I really wanted. Who cared? My money was for me and me alone. There was no responsibility of a mortgage or pre-school tuition. No thought of braces or retirement looming in the future. Life insurance, ha! Who needs that? It was a footloose and fancy free life and my feet were reaping the benefits!
4. Spend all day in my pajamas…
snuggled on the couch, watching movies… with no interruptions. I will probably be 60 before that happens again.
5. Run, do cartwheels, nearly do a split.
Now I am suffering from a severe muscle injury that started long ago but because I am getting older my body is no longer bouncing back, so I am forced to actually deal with it and try to heal. In my 20’s if I over exerted myself I could take a couple days off and recover, now it takes a bit longer (like a year and counting).
6. See the good in everyone.
Once upon a time I lived in a world where I could trust people, where I could meet someone and see only their good qualities and truly believe that the good would outweigh the bad. Over time events in my personal life and worldwide events have left me jaded and now I truly can see that some people are genuinely bad. While this may be a safer way to live, it also prevents me from living as freely.
7. Wear a bikini without thinking twice.
This one has only a little to do with body image. Obviously after two children I have lost a bit of the confidence I once had, stretch marks and a not as flat stomach may hinder my decision to show it all off but the real factor is when a 20 something wears a bikini, no one thinks twice about it. She should be wearing one, but when a 40 something year old wears a bikini, people notice. Whether it is for good reasons or not, people pay attention when a woman over 40 wears a bikini.
8. Forgive easily.
If you did me wrong when I was younger I could get over it. We were young, stupid, trying to find our way, mistakes were made. If you do me wrong now I may not forgive so easily because I have no time for that in my life. I need laughter and empathy, I need cheerleaders and smiles, I need people who know I will give them my all but never expect it and appreciate it when I do.
9. Only go to the salon a few times a year.
I used to color my hair for fun. I changed it up often but I could easily go three to four months without having to go to the salon. Then suddenly I started finding a few gray hairs, then those few multiplied and now I find myself searching for something to cover up my roots until my next salon visit. I truly miss the days of dark roots being my biggest hair problem and I miss the money I saved by not having to get my hair done every 2 months.
10. Believe in fairy tales.
There was a time when finding true love meant everything to me. I thought love could conquer all and it was all that was needed to make a relationship survive. Now I am keenly aware that love varies in strength throughout long term relationships. Sometimes there are moments to nurture it and it grows and other times it is neglected and suffering ensues. The true bond in a relationship is friendship, not nearly as romantic and passionate but much longer lasting than the fairy tale version of love.
There is no doubt being a 20 something is pretty amazing. The world is at your feet and if you take the wrong path there are opportunities to try again with little consequence. Getting older is tough, I do not always like what I see in the mirror and I do not always like the events that occur and force me to make tough, grown up decisions.
But I have also never laughed so hard and so genuinely as when I play with my children, I have never felt a more truer love than the love I feel for them and there is something surprisingly comforting about knowing that my happiness will remain as long as my children are happy.
When you are no longer the center of your own universe magical things can happen. In my 20’s I do not know that these things would have been enough for me. I was too curious, too self-centered, too lost. At least now I am capable of seeing and feeling what matters most. And I do not need any articles on the joy of turning 40 to prove that to me!