Last year when I turned 40 I thought I would feel different.  Closer to middle age (whatever that means), older, wiser, mature.  It’s just a number…or is it?  Well, I don’t feel the same way I felt at 20 or 30.  40 is different.  I recently saw a post circulating on Facebook that read; “13 Fucks You Stop Giving When You’re a Grown Woman.”  

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I thought, yeah, something like that but the idea stayed with me.  The insecurities and doubts that at times overpowered me are less.  At 20 I was half way through college with big plans but I didn’t know what the eff I was actually going to do with my life.  It was terrifying; trying to live up to my own expectations, let alone everyone else’s.  At 30 I was a new mother and oh, I definitely didn’t know what the eff I was doing at times.  So when I turned 40 I missed some of the challenges from my previous decades because they were also filled with opportunities for discovery.  That’s the idea that stayed with me.  A grown woman has discovered things about herself and she doesn’t give an eff if no one else gets it.  Yeah, that’s not entirely me but I can say that being 40 has given me a confidence that only comes from experience; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You own it, and at times, you don’t give an eff!  I found some journal doodles last weekend that included a list of revelations about turning the big 4-0.  Here goes:

Not caring what others think.
I like to think so at times, but it’s not always the case. I practice kindness because it’s what I expect in return.  That saying about, “people may not always remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.”  It’s that.

Not feeling necessary to have everyone like you.
You can be the kindest person in the world but not everyone is going to like you.  I’m over it.  Personalities and agendas and heck, political affiliations–so many differences to accept, or not .  Some people are just bullies. What are you going to do? Move on.

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Not eager to please.
Being a grown woman means there’s lots of difficult decisions to make.  Especially if you are a woman in a position of leadership.  People will disagree with you and it’s hard not to take it personal. I sit on committees at work and at my kid’s schools where balancing budgets and people’s needs don’t always mesh.  I think of the greater good and try to make decisions based on informed choices.  I also don’t beat myself up if I change my mind.  I can’t and won’t pretend to have it all figured out!

Own mistakes.
Yup, it happens.  Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re always wiser.  I like to think that I’ve built enough social capital by now that when I do make mistakes, I won’t be judged too harsh for them.  I learn and move on.

Coping.
When my kids fail and I tell them, it’s not the end of the world I know because I’ve been there.  I’ve been there, stuck dwelling on if only things had gone this way or that way.  There is a calmness that comes when you think this too shall pass in the middle of a world wind shit storm.  It comes from experience and by the time you’re 40 you’ve likely experienced quite a bit. Resiliency is empowering.

Feeling hurt and wronged but moving on.
It’s not productive. Move on.

Fine about body image.
Especially if you’ve squeezed two babies out! I’m not trying to fit into teen jeans and I’m a Latina who loves chiles rellenos so yes, real women do have curves!

Not feeling guilty about wanting me/alone time.
This might include ignoring your kid’s text messages about “when are you coming home?”
I’ve never taken a day off during the week and told no one just to chill at home by myself. Never. Ever. (I totally have!)

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Spending time with only people you like.
Maybe it’s that whole closer to middle age thing or between work, kid activities and trying to find me/alone time… but life is short- spend it with people you like!

Appreciating comfortable shoes.
Now we’re talking!  I’m not trying to be all cute in the same pumps I wore when I used to go clubbing.  Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE shoes!  I LOVE cute shoes BUT they better be comfortable.

Go YOLO at BevMo.
Being 40 for me means I enjoy a fine cocktail.  This includes top shelf liquor and my favorite wine.  No FOMO here.

Recognizing limitations.
It depends. Being 40 (and a woman of color) means I’ve experienced a share of isms–sexism, racism, ageism, egoism, absurdism, just to name a few.  At times I would feel defeated by the obstacles that I didn’t have control over.  At 40 I’ve learned to work with what I do have control over.  I’ve also learned that compromising does not mean defeat.  Like the time I quit library school because I couldn’t balance my time between two small babies at home and going through a shift in my career while trying to attend classes at night.  I still work in a library and my colleagues are librarians but I don’t hold the title. We make our own paths without labels and sometimes within limits.  I’m old enough to know that determination, kindness, and smarts will take you on some fantastic journeys.  

People will have your back.
It’s reciprocal. Stick your neck out when it matters! Also, surrounding yourself with strong women builds solidarity…and makes for the best happy hour conversations!    

Style is timeless!
Rock it, no matter your age!  At 40 I want functionality in my clothing (dresses with pockets), my accessories (a blingy bracelet that doubles as a pedometer) and my makeup (coverage with wrinkle protection.) My style is part of my identity and I’m not trying to be anyone else. Plus, I think confidence is contagious and I have a ten-year-old daughter who picks up on these things without a said word.