Don’t Go Gray at Forty and Other Reasons Why Getting Older Never Gets Old
When I turned forty almost three years ago, I received it the way you accept the inevitable. You know it’s coming and no matter how much you dread it — there are zero ways to delay its arrival.
If you’re lucky enough to reach the milestone — then you should be willing to stick around and experience the bipolar roster of assignments that you will be required to complete as you prepare to spend the remainder of your days reminiscing about your youth as opposed to reveling in it.
I consider myself an expert when it comes to dissecting the intricacies of the sudden onset of middle age.
Not only am I living it but in actuality I have lived it.
It’s an interesting state of mind when you can literally relate to people way younger and way older than you.
I’ve spent most of my life either being the first or the last. I am the firstborn of the family and I was also the last to get a drivers license.
Being in the middle is weird and at times jarringly aimless. Life has the authority to kick you in any direction — unless you’re stubborn enough to reclaim the rebel of your youth and the fortitude of what your new status can afford.
If you want it.
While you decide — here is a quick overview of what life as a newbie in a club that officially makes you old as fuck — looks like:
You will experience a healthy dose of euphoria as the impact of your mighty leap from “sorta young” to “kinda old” befalls you. Enjoy every minute because it is fleeting.
The mornings and nights will be longer because without any initiation from you — being in a perpetual state of contemplativeness will become a habit that you won’t be able to break.
You were already warming up to being the oldest person in the room but be prepared to be the oldest by far. All the time. It will knock you off your feet. But being humbled by reality either breaks or makes you. Try really hard to shoot for the latter.
If you’re single at forty — no matter how unaffected you are by this, others around you will force you to be affected. Let them have their fill. You are now officially drowning in their eyes and nothing you say will change that. So don’t say anything at all.
Night sweats and hot flashes will be your unexpected guests. Your emotional template will have a hard time processing each occurrence but take a deep breath and pray it won’t last longer than you anticipated.
If like me, it does last longer — seek medical assistance and weigh your options based on the results. I will have a shit of a time having kids. Hopefully you won’t suffer the same fate. If you do — it’s time to look into meditation.
Getting along with those you know will become akin to getting along with strangers. Everything becomes crystal clear. So clear, that you almost wish for the times that you were blinded by the surface stuff. Now, you have to contend with your laser vision. And the victims won’t thank you later.
Saying goodbye to the ones that no longer matter will be a lot less dramatic than you imagined. If you had a hard time letting go of dead weight in your younger years — you will be amazed at what maturity can amass. Feeling lighter will be your ultimate goal. Don’t fight it.
Again, your body will stop working with your regulated disposition. This means that you will be a bystander as you watch things unfold that are beyond your control. It’s alarming, disturbing and nerve-wrecking. You may want to devour bottles of wine every night and even throw in capsules of “vitamins” for that extra comfort. Pace yourself. Go for the liquor and forget the pills.
If there is something you need to do — do it now. Don’t wait and don’t listen to the voices inside and outside of your head that thwart all the reasons why you deserve to finally be the person you always wanted to be. Time is of the essence. And this time its personal.
When the wind is knocked out of you as you assess your situation and you find that you are drastically far from where you hoped to be at this stage of your life — run and hide from the demons because they will eat you alive. You deserve to be alive. Don’t cower to the notion that “Life Begins or Ends at Forty”. Life begins when you finally understand why the fuck you’re here. When that happens — you’re saved.
Unfinished business remains exactly that until you address it. The good news is that you won’t have any problems with what needs to be handled. Getting older automatically categorizes your threshold for bullshit at an all time low. If you’ve been tormented for years — be prepared to choreograph your very own Formation.
It’s all or nothing. Anything half-assed won’t do. You will see yourself instinctively rising to the occasion because that’s the nature of things. Allow this new code to dictate your fundamentals. But before this new system overtakes you. Reach in, reach out and command the script that was written in your absence. Nobody can do it better than you.
There will be more bad news than good. This is because your mortality is erratically signaling at every turn that your best days are behind you. It’s time to concede and allow the hands of time to decide how much longer you have. Don’t be fooled. Your time to depart this world matches the timetable of every human being sharing the same air you breathe.
Don’t go gray. Yes, the trend to be a hip, gray-haired youngster is all the rage but remember who you are and what it means. If you still harbor hopes of seducing a younger man and getting pregnant despite all the odds — going gray cannot be the hue of choice. However if you’re a sexy divorcee with a body that won’t quit and a face that is committed to the benefits of overtime — you may be on to something.
Fuck the rest and do what you gotta do. Time is of the essence when you turn forty. Which means that you can’t afford to put others above you. If you want to be an actress — audition like a maniac until Law &Order calls you to be the adoptive mother seeking her long lost son. If being a full time writer is your utmost desire — write as if your life depends on it. And eventually it will.
Looking your age isn’t so bad — if you look good. Fighting the effects of aging is a valiant effort but you will be in situations where being referred to as Ma’am will happen more often than you would like. It’s not a pleasant feeling but it’s a wake up call that can’t be devalued. We can get lost in the world we create — that is devoid of the substance we need to stay on our toes. Absorb the shock of it and move on. To bigger and better!
If you need help to construct the elements of the past — now is the time to do just that. Whether or not you want to face it — you are on the cusp of your true identity. So many die without really understanding who they were or why they came to be. You have the privilege of deciding whether you want to dissect or bypass. Be a grown up and trudge through it. It will free you and add many more years to your life.
Be a role model. It sounds corny but this is the time to open up and release your words of wisdom to the ones who need it. You may not think you’re capable of such noble acts but believe me when I say that getting older is enough to propel you to “Yoda” status. Every word that comes out of your mouth will be encased in gold for the ones that are twenty years behind. Don’t misuse or abuse your nobility. And don’t ignore it.
Finally, celebrate who you are and far you’ve come. Comparing yourself to your more accomplished mates is a natural tendency but it should never be a destructive or even fatal endeavor. If you made it this far with all your faculties intact — that is proof that you did something right. So, pat yourself on the back and get serious about this thing called life. It’s been on your side for this long but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods.
You’ve got a longer road ahead. Make it good, Make it last. And don’t let the gray strands get in the way.
You’ve got a lotta livin’ to do. Hold the ones you love closer than ever before. And love yourself with astute selfishness. You’ve earned that right.
Here’s to the next forty! Or as they say — life ends when you say so.