If you are under the age of 40, I know what you are thinking about my title…that’s only something that old people say. If you are around 40 or older, though, I bet you are nodding and agreeing with me. I never thought I’d be one of those people who was bothered by the number, but as 40 crept closer and closer over the past couple of years, I’d find myself cringing at the thought. Even as of last week I wasn’t really looking forward to it. But I can honestly say today, that 40 is better than 20.
When I was twenty, I was in the middle of college. I thought I knew what I was doing with my life. I studied hard, had a job, and joined a couple of extracurricular clubs so I could get a good teaching position when I graduated. I had always pretty much been a rule-follower, and I continued that into my university years. I was sure that I was going to marry my high school sweetheart, move back to North Manchester, have a family and retire from teaching when I was older.
When I was twenty, I compared myself to others and found myself wanting. I frowned about my Freshman 15, and worked hard to get rid of it. I was still testing out my independence. I was somewhat introverted at the time, and not great at the whole friend thing.
Fast forward twenty years (yikes, ok, so that makes me feel old), and so much has changed. Over those years I have lived out many of my twenty-year-old plans. I did marry my high school sweetheart, but life wasn’t always marital bliss. We are stronger for the struggles. We have two amazing children who are bigger blessings than I could have ever imagined. We did move back to our home town, and I’m incredibly thankful to be so close to family.
I did become an elementary teacher and followed that calling for fourteen years. But, I took a risk and left the classroom to become a curriculum director. That move was scary, but it reignited a passion in me for education that had been flickering at best. I took another risk a few years later and started my own educational consulting company, and found a niche that I wouldn’t have dreamed of in college.
I have found incredible friends who make my life richer every single day. I rediscovered my inner extrovert (that may be an oxymoron, but it’s true), and thrive on deep and/or fun conversations with others.
And, I no longer compare my physical qualities with others. I love myself the way I am. I wish I could go back and tell my twenty-year-old self to love that body, to stand tall, and smile often. I’d also tell her to take more risks….live a little more loudly. But the beauty of it is, that I can do all of that now. And I am.
Forty brings freedom. It brings empowerment. It brings wisdom and experience. I can’t wait to see what is to come.