Full disclosure: I just turned 30 last month. But I am something of an old soul, and am definitely starting to feel more “myself” the older I get. While your twenties are a time in which to truly discover yourself, your thirties are a time to establish yourself in the hopes that, when you turn forty, you have a solid foundation and can start to feel as if you’re finally in control of your life. Once you hit the fourth decade of your life, you can be happy knowing that:
1. People finally see you as an adult
I got called “sir” last week, but it was by a teenager. When I’m 40, I hope to have established myself enough that people older than me will stop seeing me as a young buck, and start taking me a bit more seriously. When you’re in your 20s and 30s, veterans of your industry will often proverbially thumb their noses at you whenever you express your ideas or opinions, believing you to be “too young to know what you’re talking about.” There’s something about turning 40 that makes this argument obsolete, regardless of whether or not you do actually know what you’re talking about.
2. You don’t need to be current
Even at 30, I absolutely love coming across a headline on Facebook reporting that two celebrities are dating, and I have no idea who either of them are. I think current clothing trends are ridiculous, and I have no intention of seeing most of the current summer blockbusters in theaters right now. As you hit 40, you realize all that garbage is stuff you cared about because you had nothing else to care about. Now, you have a wife, two kids, and a mortgage to pay. When you were 20, that didn’t sound too appealing. But at 40, you wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Especially not for a pair of skinny jeans.
3. You actually own things
Your car was paid off years ago. You can actually afford to put additions onto your home. You own lawn furniture, let alone living room furniture. You can go to the store and buy a big screen TV without it meaning you’ll be eating Ramen noodles for a month. You’re comfortable enough financially to not freak out every time your wife says “Let’s go to Target!” You might not have that private jet you thought you’d have by this time in your life, but at least you can afford to pay more than the minimum on your credit card bills.
4. You don’t have a fear of missing out
FOMO, as the kids are calling it these days, doesn’t overcome you anymore. You don’t see Friday nights as an automatic party night, and you don’t even really care when your birthday comes up anymore for that matter. When your friends get together and you can’t make it because of life’s responsibilities, you don’t spend the rest of the weekend wishing you had gone. When they recall all the crazy stuff you missed, instead of thinking “Man, I should have been there,” you think “I guess I had to be there.” When you hit 40, you know you’ve had your time to party, and missing out on one night isn’t that big a deal.
5. People don’t judge you, and it doesn’t matter if they do
You’re not in high school anymore. People aren’t going to judge you for what you wear, or how you act. And if they do, you either take it in stride, or give them the what for. You also don’t care when people make fun of you for saying “what for.” Because what others think isn’t important anymore, you can feel comfortable going to the convenience store in sweats and a t-shirt, or not having a good hair day. You have way too much else on your plate to worry about the big red pimple on your nose (unfortunately, those don’t go away – but your attitude toward them sure does change).
6. You’ve surrounded yourself with true friends
Again, high school is over. The friends you have at 40 are true-blue pals who will be with you through thick and thin. They’re not just around for the party, but will also help you out when you’re in need. Not only that, but your friends’ family have become your family, and vice versa. Your kids play together and your spouses get along great. You might not see each other as often as you like, but when you do get a chance to get together, it feels like you haven’t missed a beat.
7. You enjoy things you used to think were boring
At one point in the comedy Old School, Will Ferrell’s character mentions “a pretty nice little Saturday” in which he and his wife will be going to Home Depot, and maybe – if they’re lucky – Bed Bath & Beyond. There are either two extreme schools of thought on this: People who think this is a terrible way to spend a Saturday, and people who think this is an awesome way to spend a Saturday. Chances are, if you’re in the latter group, you’re most likely over 40. If you’re any younger than that, you’ll most likely have to pretend not to have enjoyed your time shopping for bath salts and fragrances when you’re with your buddies. After 40, no one will think twice when you say you can’t go fishing because you’re looking for new siding for the house.
8. You’re still young
Being 40 shouldn’t mean half your life has passed you by. It means you still have an entire lifetime left to live. You might not be as quick as you were when you were a teenager, and you might not be able to stay up all hours of the night on a weekday like you did in college, but there’s still so much to do on this Earth. Your forties are a perfect time to do all of the things you’ve always wanted to do. I’m not saying go all “mid-life crisis” on your family, but you should definitely plan the vacation you’ve always dreamed of, or learn a skill you’ve always wanted to try. Just because life has gotten busy doesn’t mean you should be too busy to live life. Make the most of it!
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm1.staticflickr.com