Le 40 is Le Terrifying and I Can’t Understand Why.

Y’all. Why am I so scurred about turning 40????

A bit of background: growing up, no age ever really scared me off. I ached to be 12. I fortycouldn’t wait to be 16. 21 was super cool. 25? Give me 5. And if you’ve read any of my past posts, you know about the wonder, amazement, and sheer beauty that 30 brought me. (There are too many posts to link about 30; just hit that search button, playa.) As the ages continued, I embraced each new year, grateful for the increase in wisdom and self-discovery, among other awesome things that came with getting older.

But why is 40 giving me all the terrors known to man? What is it about that number?

Oh, and the whole “you’re only as old as you feel” adage means nothing to me. I was born old and stressed out.  If anything, getting older has given me ample opportunities to age backwards. Meet your Melanin Benjamin Button, everyone. So why do I envision this new decade hiding behind a dark corner, flexing its long claws, ready to strike?

Here are some irrational, pre-40 fears:

  1. All my bones will fall apart.
  2. Someone will refer to me as middle-aged.
  3. My hormones will get further out of whack and someone will find me on the side of the road muttering unintelligibly to myself.

I said irrational, didn’t I?

In the past, like most kids, I always felt too young and dreamed of being older. And now…give me trips to the library during school-sanctioned summertime and rolling in the grass in the backyard without fear of ticks, please. Perhaps it’s that, the strange sense of losing youth, that’s bothering me. Even though I craved getting older, I also knew that the process would take time. Fast forward to now, where time is a giant clock that has “40” emblazoned on its surface, staring back at me with its arms folded and an impatient tapping of its foot. We have arrived.

In the grand scheme of things, rationally, I recognize that the age is really only a number. It’s relevant for tax, census, and records purposes. It doesn’t define me or create some sort of blueprint of what my life will become. I know, I know…

Here are some of my favorites who are turning 40 this year right along with me (or already have):

Anyway, I will continue to heave giant sighs and wonder what 40 will bring me. Meanwhile, you will tell me in the comments how you dealt with new ages and/or decades, won’t you? Because you love This Square Peg and want to comfort her somehow, right? Right? Riiiight?

how dare you guess my actual age?

Thanks to the African juices/genetics (thanks, Daddy and Ma), I have somewhat youthful features. When I was a teenager, I looked younger. When I was in my mid-20s, a woman at a hair salon once asked me if I was excited about Homecoming. Her shock when I explained that I was 26 years old–and not 15, like the girls getting their hair done–was memorable. Even in this later-third decade of life, when I meet new people, I frequently get a prolonged, quizzical stare before the onlooker leans forward and asks, “how old are you?” At a dance party last year, my dance partner asked me if I’d ever heard the song playing on the loudspeaker. It was “Motownphilly” by Boyz 2 Men. I replied that of course I knew it and that I grew up listening to it. I couldn’t help but laugh at his reaction. All that said, a lady gets used to questions like this, at the raised eyebrows of surprise, at the declarations that they would have never guessed my age. By the way, any woman who claims to find these questions/comments to be a nuisance and complains about them is trying to pull a bit of wool over your eyes, dear reader. Sure, there’s a difference between questioning age and questioning maturity (an entirely different animal), but who doesn’t like a bit of surprise when you explain that you’re older than you look? Come on.

Anywho, keeping all of that in mind, imagine my reaction when someone guessed my actual age. About a year ago, while in Alabama to visit the bestie, a bunch of us were chatting.

Lady: Do you mind if I ask how old you are?
Me (with muted pride and a mischievous, tiny smile in expectation of the impending guess): How old do you think I am?
Lady: I’d say…36?
Me (muted pride and mischievous, tiny smile vanish): You’re right.

The sheer audacity of that woman, I later raged to my bestie, who was laughing so hard and hysterically that tears brimmed in her eyes. How dare she accurately guess how old I am? carriefisherI was well aware of how foolish I sounded, y’all. But that didn’t stop me from waving my arms in the air and pontificating on how she was certainly in the minority, that several people believed me to be younger than I looked. Later, after I finally came out of my age-related fugue, I joined my best friend in loud, raucous laughter. “Welcome to the real world,” she pronounced. “Indeed,” I replied.

Ah, vanity.

When I was 14 years old, I couldn’t wait to be 16. When I was 23 years old, I couldn’t wait to be 25. When 30 came and many of my (mostly toxic) views about myself, my beauty, my worth, my body, and other things changed for the better, I embraced this wondrous start to a new, epiphany-laden decade. For me, I can honestly say that aging has always been about exciting transitions, new realizations and understandings, growing further into adulthood…

But it’s nice when you don’t look like you’re aging. *wink*

Happy Friday, everyone. Because I adore you and because my 15 year-old self danced to this song in my bedroom, here you go.

Thank Ya, Mama.

 
Thank ya, Mama, for genes that make me look 21 years old. I don’t want to return to 21, but it sure is nice to look it.

(This photo was snapped by my good friend and talented photographer during a trip to NYC a few weeks ago. That’s her IG handle. Check out her work. You really want to.)

((Go to How Old-Net and waste plenty of your precious time posting photos of your face to see how old you look.))

35.

35 is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. — Oscar Wilde

Oscar ain't never lied...
Oscar ain’t never lied…
Reflecting: we’ve been together for three months now, me and 35, and I have to say that I’m enjoying it so far. A few things…

1. Keeping it All in Perspective. My back hurts, you know? I need an Advil, not your complaint about the long line in the store.

2. I Sing the Body Electric. I accept that I will never have a flat stomach, or abs, or actual, visible hips. I’m so ok with that right now in my life. So, so, so ok with that. I’m not entirely sure where this peace of mind about my body and loving it came from, but I will take it.

3. Some Things Need to Be Said. I tend to shy away from confrontation. (My Sissy will dispute this, but whatever you do, don’t listen to her.) I’d rather let it go and leave it most of the time. But these days…certain things need to be said, acknowledged, dealt with, and then let go. If you say something silly that bears discussion, we will discuss it. K? 

4. This.

5. My Mother, my Friend. I think my mother and I are at a stage where we can really be friends. Although I very much respect her role as mother, parent, and all-around CEO of everything, I still think we can chat, laugh, and joke without me worrying about not being able to sit down because of being swatted on my rump. Within reason. Within reason.

6. This Writing Life. I’ve experienced the following phases with my life as a writer: joy, confusion, comparison, quiet, returning, acceptance, joy. The latter phase is what I feel at present, and I believe I feel this way because I stopped comparing my work to the works of others; stopped putting pressure on myself, stopped giving in to the excuse that there was nothing there, creatively, for me to work with. Once I left many toxic habits behind, my writing and the process itself has taken on a completely different and exciting feel.

35. What whaaat?