I turned 40 this summer, and now I have something new to worry about. Ever since my birthday, any ache or pain that arises I think to myself, did I sleep in a weird way or is this 40? A few weeks ago I went for a run on a very hot day. I had stayed up too late drinking tequila and laughing with friends. Needless to say, the run was not a thing of beauty. The whole time I was thinking to myself. This is awful. Is it the tequila or is it 40?
The number has become a catch all for my fears. I have fallen asleep on the couch a couple of nights in a row. Am I tired or is it 40? My jeans are a little tight. Is it the guacamole or is it 40? It’s a game with virtually no end, and in some ways it’s nice to have something to blame for any unwanted behaviour. I don’t have to take responsibility for my short temper, or my disinterest in cooking. I can blame it all on 40.
Of course I know this is ridiculous but it is very funny to see how this new excuse came to live in my head. There is no question that my forty-year-old hips and knees feel different than my twenty-year-old ones did. The equipment has had industrial use; it’s entitled to some aches and pains. Should I be gentle with myself if I am feeling short tempered or achy? Absolutely. Should it have anything to do with me turning 40? No.
What I can say is that I now have the wisdom to see when I am getting in my own way…sometimes. While it can be handy every once in a while to make excuses, the old ones of stress, exhaustion, or infants don’t really have the oomph they once did. 40 is like a whole new landscape of excuses. I was explaining to a friend this new story line of mine. We were laughing about it because it does sound so ridiculous when you say it out loud. She confided that she found herself doing the same thing except for her the phrase is “I am almost 50…”
Age, like weight, is a useless statistic unless it is somehow way outside the norm. After you stop counting your age in weeks or if you aren’t deep into your 90’s your age is really subjective. I know very few people who hit their stride in their twenties, but many who did in their forties. I am, as always, a work in progress. If I stay up too late drinking tequila and then decide to go for a run on a hot day, and it isn’t awesome….that’s not 40’s fault. That is only proof that wisdom doesn’t always come with age.