Today is my 40th birthday. I have passionately disliked most of my birthdays throughout my life, but I can confidently assert that I hate this particular one the very most. Despite what everyone has told me how 40 feels, how everything is so great and wonderful and birds land on their shoulders and they have their own theme songs as they skip down the street, I don't feel like celebrating, I don't feel happy or triumphant, and I certainly don't feel wiser and more comfortable in my skin. I don't feel like I know myself, and I certainly don't feel that I can face the world because I have unlocked the secrets of the universe.
I feel the complete and exact opposite of all of those things. For me, there is nothing great about turning 40. 40 is not the new 30. What a bullshit notion. 40 is just 40, and it is probably way past the halfway point of my life. I now have to think about things like mammograms and menopause, and I will probably be the proud owner of a goatee in the not-too-distant future. I have more gray hair on my head than most octogenarians, but at least I am not going bald - so there is an upside I suppose. I feel like I have made no impact on the world. Not that I ever knew what kind of impact I wanted to make. I don't feel "comfortable in my skin" - I hate that expression. In fact, I'm tired of trying to convince myself that I'm not completely dissatisfied with where the ball landed on my genetic roulette wheel. I don't "know who I am as a woman" because I still feel like a child inside my head, complete with all of the fear and trepidation of having to grow up someday. I am not wise to any big secrets, I've had no "A-ha" moments, other than realizing that I'm not turning into my mother when I look in the mirror but that I am actually turning into my father.
You get no gold watch when you turn 40. The day comes and it goes and there you are. 40. 4-0. Middle-aged and riddled with guilt about all of the things you didn't accomplish. All of those things that, as a child, you'd dreamt about achieving. As I sit here today, I am not an archaeologist, I have not written a book, and I did not win a gold medal in the Olympics. I am a mom, a wife, a sister, and a friend. All things that I do with varying degrees of success and failure depending on the day. I like to cook, I like to take photographs, I run and swim and try to cycle, and I write the occasional word here and there that less than .0000001% of the population reads. I am an average woman, with very little drama in my life. And I guess I'm ok with that.
But I am still pissed about being 40.