So I got formally introduced to the 'Big 40' with a hysterectomy within a month of my 40th birthday celebration. Celebration - well that's funny, I didn't exactly feel like a celebration, but as usual, kept that all to myself. It was just expected that a party was in order for this momentous occasion.
I was always the bouncy, fun blonde, life of the party kind-of-gal. I was the funny one, they hyper one, and at the same time, the one that was reliable and would hold your hair when the 'party' got the best of you. For goodness sake, I am a true Scorpio and loyal to a fault.
I had been having a lot of what my mom would call, 'female troubles.' Basically, and not to be too graphic, I had been having periods that never ended and were beyond what you could imagine. At one point I remember thinking that I was dying. I'm not joking, I was absolutely exhausted beyond an exhaustion that I can't even describe. Showering, going to work, hell even doing simple math, was like trying to balance the national debt, eradicate terrorism, and explain how a bill becomes a law to my 9-year-old son all at once while maintaining a household, managing a career, and being a half-assed wife, sister and daughter. Overwhelming, exhausting, painful, draining are all great words, but simply are understatements to describe how I felt. And all I kept thinking was, "This is freakin' 40? Are you kidding me?"
The women in my family seemed to love turning 40, so turning that age didn't bother me. They all seemed to be empowered and hit their strides in their 40's. It was like some magical transformation happened for them, or at least that is the way I perceived it. So, without a doubt, the dreaded age of 40 wasn't a horrible idea for me.
I couldn't wait for my 20's - seriously - who doesn't?! 30's didn't really phase me at all. 40's though, I felt like I was going to come into my own and seriously be awesome, a butterfly if you will. I guess I imagined it happening the minute the clock struck 12' on November 10th, 2014. All of a sudden I would be enlightened with a kick ass and take names, divide and conquer kind-of-power. But, it didn't happen that way at all. I found myself at a bar full of drinks, dancing, happy people, and me feeling really low and tired. I put on my happy birthday face but simply didn't feel so happy on the inside. And, there certainly was no moment of enlightenment; only a headache the next day.
After my hysterectomy, I felt so much better. After only three weeks, I returned to work and felt 'normal' again. The fatigue was gone, my energy level was almost back to 100%, and I was so relieved to finally be rid of the 'female troubles.' However, I still felt low and unsatisfied with life most days. I wasn't happy with anything.
Shortly after turning 41 things took a drastic turn for me. I started making changes in my life and talked about some of those changes in my About Me post. I finally made the realization after almost three years that I had become a person I didn't like. (I still cringe to think of what everyone thought of me.) And it finally clicked. I made a decision to get it together, take charge, and begin to live a happy life. Each day is better, even when I am thrown curve balls - and the older you get, the more of these are thrown your way - way more.
Don't mistake my positive attitude for having a unicorns and rainbows attitude about being in my 40's or life in general. That would be a huge error on anyone's part. There are plenty of disadvantages and days of struggle that everyone will face, Wrinkles are the first in-your-face-you're-older disadvantages.
It seems like one day your skin is awesome. It's soft, supple, bouncy and perfect(up until about 35), and then like a bomb dropped on you, you look in the mirror and have laugh lines, crows feet, frown lines, blah, blah, blah. There is no way to describe wrinkles other than - ugh! And no matter what any company tells you, there is no magic and, usually very expensive, cream that will rid you of wrinkles. The only way to get them to disappear, and only short-term, is with the use of fillers like Botox and Restylane. That is it! (And women, don't judge or be catty about fillers, Actually, don't be catty at all - stop it!)
And don't get me started about sleeping patterns. One night you sleep like a baby and the next night you find yourself up at 3am with no hope of going back to bed and binge-watching Makeupbytiffanyd videos on YouTube. (and yes, I recommend all of her videos, they are fantastic! She has terrific taste and is spot on with her product reviews.) The next night you'll sleep like a baby and feel so groggy when you wake, like the walking dead, that you can barely make coffee the next morning. It's just amazing.
Another disadvantage is being referred to by younger generations (yeah 20 and 30-year-olds, I'm talking to you) as old or a woman of age. Woman of age -who came up with this ridiculous title? Whoever did, take it and cram it back in the box. I am a woman, just a woman, thank you very much. And for 20 and 30 year-olds, the older you get, the faster time flies. I'm sure you've heard your mothers say this. They say it because it is the truth. You think you will be 20 or 30 forever. Guess what, tomorrow you will wake up a 40-year-old and will truly understand what I'm saying.
I don't want to continue focusing on the negatives because there certainly are positives. Focusing on the negatives only gives us more lines to Botox anyway!. Positives, that's the first realization of 40! You are able to see the great things in life with a better viewpoint and clarity.You have a better understanding of your body, mind, and soul. Your mistakes are no longer mistakes, but instead, they become learning tools for guidance. You are able to sniff out b.s. a lot easier and much faster. (I was always pretty good at that but still a sucker under some circumstances.)
You become a big sister to your younger friends and giving them advice about all sorts of things like makeup, relationships, fashion, health, fitness and family. And you have learned and explained to them that, even as a WOMAN OF AGE (ridiculous), that you don't know everything and still have so much to learn. I learn new things every day with a new attitude and sincere appreciation for learning them. I have a hunger for knowledge like no other time in my life.
But if I can pinpoint one single realization that I value most as a woman in my 40's, is that I need to empower other women and help them through chaos like others have helped me. This is my true gift of wisdom. Anyone can make a choice to make a difference and empower others, not just women, but anyone through acts of kindness, teaching, inspiring and just trying to be the best version of themselves. I wish I had figured this out 20 years ago. Any one human being truly has the power to make a difference, no matter what age, sex, belief or background. Don't wait until you're 40 to figure it out, be your own best version NOW!