Lordy, Lordy, there’s a lot to love about turning 40

Pop Culture Decoder

Though society still tends to value youth and beauty over age and experience, culture writer Misty Harris discovered she was filled with as much optimism as dread at the thought of turning 40. ‘I feel like I’m finally where I need to be – and with the tribe I’m supposed to be with.’

Pop Culture Decoder with Misty Harris

By Misty Harris

So, this is 40. It’s a milestone I want to embrace, recognizing that every extra year we’re given is a gift – and, in the immortal words of Aaliyah, age ain’t nothing but a number. Then again, Aaliyah married R. Kelly at 15, so let’s not put too much stock in the wisdom of ’90s R&B.

Getting real here, my career isn’t where I thought it’d be at this age. I still care way too much what other people think. I have a secret drawer of “skinny clothes” that will never again fit me, but I can’t bring myself to donate. I still make my share of bad decisions (though I stand by my belief that popcorn and wine is as an acceptable dinner); and despite my faith that talent and character trump appearance and age, I’m terrified of becoming invisible in a world obsessed with youth.

But there’s also a lot about 40 that makes me optimistic. While my 20s were all drama and ladder-climbing, and my 30s were a Lifetime movie of relationship lessons, I feel like I’m finally where I need to be – and with the tribe I’m supposed to be with.

Getting real here, my career isn’t where I thought it’d be at this age. I still care way too much what other people think. I have a secret drawer of “skinny clothes” that will never again fit me, but I can’t bring myself to donate. I still make my share of bad decisions (though I stand by my belief that popcorn and wine is as an acceptable dinner); and despite my faith that talent and character trump appearance and age, I’m terrified of becoming invisible in a world obsessed with youth.

At 40, I know unequivocally who my friends are, and to never take those relationships for granted.

At 40, I don’t have to fight as hard for respect or to have a seat at the table. I’ve earned those things through years of sacrifice, hard work, and figuring out the fine art of when to speak up and when to keep my big mouth shut.

At 40, I’ve learned from my mistakes. So many mistakes.

At 40, I can go to bed early and nobody will judge me. (I actually love the start of Daylight Saving Time because it’s the one day a year my 9 p.m. bedtime looks like a marginally cooler 10.)

At 40, I’ve lost the presumptuousness I had at 30 – a time when I felt like I had life by the balls, knew exactly who I was, and that my path was set in stone. This feels like growth.

At 40, I’ve lost the presumptuousness I had at 30 – a time when I felt like I had life by the balls, knew exactly who I was, and that my path was set in stone. This feels like growth.

At 40, I still get nostalgic for when the London brothers were hot, SNL was funny, and the biggest drug problem on teen TV involved caffeine pills.

At 40, I have just two regrets. But I’d only take one of them back.

At 40, I have the financial freedom to travel, and have visited some of the most beautiful places in the world.

At 40, I get to do a job that’s fulfilling and makes a difference – even if it’s just putting a smile on someone’s face. The world needs less outrage.

At 40, I pass fewer judgments on other people’s life choices. You don’t know what you’re capable of enduring, forgiving, succumbing to, or overcoming until you’re really in it.

At 40, I feel justified in refusing any invitation to an event that starts later than 8 p.m.  That’s pajama hour, baby.

At 40, I recognize that life’s too short to drink bad wine.

corks 40

Cork it: Turning 40 is an occasion that often spurs denial, or a profound embrace of existence.

At 40, I have so many women to look up to. Women whose achievements, passion, and overall badassery assure me that things only get better from here.

At 40, I recognize that life’s too short to drink bad wine.

At 40, I’ve done things many people only dream of – and things most wouldn’t dare dream of.

At 40, I’m overwhelmingly grateful for my family. It says a lot that my only childhood grudge is that my parents wouldn’t let me attend a Tiffany concert in Grade 4.

At 40, I’ve learned to love Brussels sprouts. This is MAJOR.

At 40, I’m married to a good man who’s worked alongside me – through the good, the bad and the ugly – to earn every moment of the wonderful life we share. Also, he seems to be aging backward, which hardly seems fair (but hey, lucky me!).

At 40, I’ve learned to love Brussels sprouts. This is MAJOR.

At 40, I think we need fewer emojis, and more Oxford commas.

At 40, I’ve accumulated enough wisdom to feel confident in raising a tiny human, and to help her become the best person she can be.

At 40, I get to write every day, and get paid for it!

At 40, I still know every word to Girls Just Want to Have Fun, so I know my brain is prioritizing information correctly.

At 40, I’ve earned every line on my face, each one telling a different story – of heartbreak, stress, anger, laughter, exhaustion, struggle, and insatiable joy.

At 40, I’ve survived things I didn’t think I could.

At 40, I’m only just getting started.

@popcultini

Pink Willow Sage

In the Pink: Pink turns 40 this year, and she’s looking to share more time with her daughter Willow Sage, seen here in Inglewood, Ca.

Main image: Misty Harris and her family.
THE EX-PRESS, May 3, 2019

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