[Warning: Reflection ahead]
I can’t remember anyone every saying anything nice about 40. Growing up, it was always something to be dreaded, the subject of lame Hallmark cards featuring grim reapers and “over the hill” jokes. My earliest thoughts of considering about what it might be like to be 40 are all tied up with a 1980s cultural conversation about aging rockers. Wasn’t it, maybe, after all, a little embarrassing for the Rolling Stones to be prancing about the stage in their forties? What is rock and roll if not the music of youthful rebellion, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
Truth is, I didn’t think all that much about turning 40 until about a year ago, when it started to feel imminent, maybe even unavoidable. My last check-up found me in great shape, having recently dropped about 30 pounds and I always look both ways before crossing the street. And today I made it to that landmark. And, you know what? It doesn’t feel bad at all. In fact, it feels pretty good. I’m going into it with a happy marriage, a cheery toddler, and a sense of possibility. My career recently took an unexpected turn, but after a few weeks away I now think of that in terms of conversations I don’t have to have, burdens I don’t have to shoulder, and opportunities I can now explore. It’s scary but exciting. I’ve spent my career watching, listening, thinking, connecting, and helping likeminded colleagues do the same. I’m confident those skills will transfer elsewhere.
And if I can take a moment to be self-indulgent—and I think the occasion warrants it, if any—I feel better than I have in a long time: loved by my family, confident in my professional abilities, secure that I conduct myself personally with care and integrity, and ready for whatever the next decade brings. I’ve heard fifty’s not so bad either.