A Former Raver Turns Forty . . . And Other Rants On Growing Older

Turning 40

Tonight I will go to bed as a 39-year-old, and tomorrow I’ll wake up and be 40. In a switch of a minute, I’ll be in a whole new decade of my life.

Ten years ago I ushered in my 30s with a private party that included over 200 guests and a band of drag queens twirling glitter. I was so afraid of being “old” that I wanted my 20s to go out loud—and long—into the night.

This year I celebrated with a handful of friends over a quiet dinner. The only glitter I dusted off was from a card that read: A Wish for You!

Tonight I’ll likely be in bed by 10.

I’ve loved my 30s. It’s where I discovered my voice and the real beat of my own drum. It’s where I found my people, said goodbye to a few, and allowed myself to finally be let go by others. I’m sad to see what’s felt like the best decade of my life disappear overnight, but I am embracing this crossroad. I’m at a place where I can look back for miles and appreciate, while looking ahead beyond the horizon and dream for what’s to come. This middle part of life isn’t scary or threadbare. It’s f-ing fantastic and I’m going to live it up . . . even if it means I’ll have to start using more eye cream.

If my 30s were spent coming into my own, my 40s are going to be spent on the things I Iove (and only on the things I love). I will learn to say yes to the right opportunities and no to the things that do not get me any closer to where I want my life—and dreams—to be. This middle part is going to be selfish and selfless because only now have I learned to balance both. I needed my 20s to learn how to be selfish, my 30s to be selfless, and now these equal parts will carry me forward.

At that quiet dinner a few nights ago my niece—who will turn 20 two days after my birthday—said she couldn’t wait to be out of her teens and into a whole new decade where it will all really happen. I was too quick to add, “Well, your 20s are nothing. Your 30s is where it’s really at.”

I wish I wouldn’t have said that. “Old” folks say stuff like that. But we both laughed it off in a moment between two people, half-a-life apart, imagining what’s in store and who we’ll be 10 years from now.

And that’s what growing older is really about. That anticipation keeps us moving at any age.

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© 2022 J.R. Jamison