Photo of Sarah Badat Richardson on her 40th birthday

Turning 40

To my friend who’s turning 40 and might struggle a bit with the idea… Lean in, I’ve got a secret to tell you: “I’ve been on the other side for a year now and it’s great! Promised! You’ve got this sister. I know it.”

40 comes with a special super power: the ability to see time passing. That super power puts everything else in perspective and brings order to our psyche (let’s face it, it can get cluttery in that head of ours sometimes). What a relief!

40. If you’re lucky, that’s close to the halfway mark.
You have grown a career; you have grown kids; maybe you did both; maybe at the same time.
By now, you should know you’re hot stuff. You get it done, woman! You take care of business!
You’re fierce yet kind (except maybe to yourself sometimes).
You’re intelligent.
You’re a force to be reckoned with.

40 can make you stronger yet. (Bet you didn’t know that!).

Look in that mirror. See what I see?
You’re beautiful.

Sure at 20, your skin was smoother, your hair shinier and your thighs firmer.
But look again. Do you see those past two decades of your beautiful life?
This face your husband cherishes seeing every morning.
This body he loves touching.
This woman he’s in awe of and can’t believe he was so lucky to marry long long ago.

Look even more closely. Maybe there are lines around your eyes; and grooves around your mouth. Maybe, silver streaks twinkle in your hair.
Maybe it’s a little harder to bend over and clip your toe nails.
Maybe you cannot gobble down the entire box of cookies without consequences.
Maybe there’s no more partying the night away.

That’s a small price to pay to be you, right now: alive (first and foremost) and awesome (just take my word for it).

You and I, we’re 40 year old women now. We’re over the hill of crap that bogged us down in our twenties and thirties.

Maybe we can’t go as fast as when we were young, but at least now we know where we’re going. We know what we want and we know we ain’t got all the time in the world to get it.

That’s what the clock’s ticking for. To remind us to go for it! The dreams, the aspirations, the being ourselves fully and unashamed. It’s got to happen now. For if not now, when?

That’s the freedom that aging brings. The freedom to leave our baggage behind and move on forward a little lighter and a lot brighter. To lead by example for our daughters and our nieces, who can look at the new generation of 40 year old women and have something to look forward to.

You and I, we’re the new thing. We’re not over the hill, we own the hill.

We are smart and courageous.
We know sacrifice. We know blessings.
We know grief. We know happiness.
We know pain. We know joy.

We know BS when we see it and we’re not gonna take it anymore.

A lot of 40 year old women accept the status quo and give up.
You and I, we’re going to take this challenge head on. We’re going to prove how great 40 can be and then 50 and then 60, and then and then.
We’re going to travel the world.
We’re going to raise those kids.
We’re going to love our husbands.
We’re going to like ourselves.

How is that for a nice and easy plan to follow?
Are you ready?
Let’s get ready to ruuuumbleeee!


Thank you for reading. Next week’s essay is titled “The crazy lady in my laundry room”. Subscribe using the widget below if you want to be notified when it gets published.

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