The Day I Kissed Off My 30s

The other day this showed up in my mailbox:

I have no idea where it came from or why it found its way to me. The only magazine I have a subscription to is Time, and we have been going steady since I was a Freshman in college. I tried Better Homes & Gardens and Country Living during my 20s as a new homeowner, but I couldn’t sustain the facade. Fashion tips, home decor advice, all-around style pointers…all lost on me. This publication arriving at my door might have sent me into a self-conscious frenzy ten years ago. Now, its destination is the recycling bin without me even cracking its spine.

I will be 40 years old this weekend. The days of trying to be someone I’m not are long over. I spent years trying to “find” myself only to realize I was never missing. The only thing that needed discovering was acceptance of who I am. I may have been the only kid in Catholic school that preferred to wear a uniform on “dress down” days just so I didn’t have to put together an outfit. I wear my wedding ring permanently, but other than a hat on occasion to cover my unruly curls, I tend to roll as plain as I come. Fashion and style, whether through clothing and accessories or home decor, have never been my strong points. I’m most comfortable in worn jeans and a tour t-shirt. My laugh is loud, my manner is direct, and I’ve grown to love science fiction. There are things I am no longer ashamed to proclaim.

Do you know what’s amazing about turning 40? Making it out of my 20s, for starters. The learning curve of youth took me for quite a ride, but I like to think I did more than survive it. Here I am, all grown up, and those trials and tribulations forced me to define myself. My 30s started off with a young marriage, an infant, a career I enjoyed, a creative writing class, and a brand-new sewing machine. The marriage is thriving, the infant is now the oldest of four children, the career is paused but not forgotten, the writing slowly improves and, truthfully, the sewing machine is collecting dust because I still can’t figure out how to thread it properly.

How do I feel about turning 40? Relieved. The last few years of my 30s were far from kind. Breast cancer and a BRCA2+ diagnosis have impacted not just me, but also my husband, my children, and our way of life. My perspective has shifted, and I have a clearer vision of what my goals are. Mostly, I’m thankful for the opportunity to be 40. I’m proud of it and I worked hard to earn it. I plan on wearing it as a badge, and using it as motivation to reach 41 and beyond.

What’s the truth about turning 40? I’m not different today than I will be on my birthday. While I will never be done evolving as an individual, the constants in my personality are mine for better or worse. I’m comfortable with owning them and, because I am, I’ll continue to get better with age.

Maybe I’ll even figure out that damn sewing machine.

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