Before you begin reading, please note that this is an opinion piece – and everything here was written in jest and poking fun at mostly myself at a realization of how age affects me. There is no judgment here even though some comments may seem flip and judg-y. All this article is is fun. Fun and having a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor along with self-awareness. So please, don’t take offense but read this with humor, which is how it is intended. Enjoy.
I now understand what a midlife crisis is – I think. And I might be in the middle of one – I think.
You know how when you’re growing up and you hear adults talking about a midlife crisis? Or you see it in a movie or on TV displayed in some embarrassing and pitiful way? Or you know of that guy or girl who bought a sports car or maybe cheated on his wife/husband because he/she was in the middle of a midlife crisis? (Again, this is the stuff movies are made of and not my personal opinion). Yeah, that’s typical midlife crisis stuff, right? (At least that’s what the movies tell us). Well, I think I get it now – like actually get it-get it… and there’s way more to it than what one might originally have thought or the movies have us believe.
That said, I am most definitely NOT about to cheat on my spouse nor buy a little red Corvette, although a cute little convertible does sound pretty fun right about now. No, no, I digress… even though I’ll totally be Googling convertibles in a hot minute…
Back to the point, here’s what I realized and is the crux of the midlife crisis: I’m not 20 anymore.
It’s really as simple as THAT!
Aging is not for the Faint of Heart
And that realization is H-A-R-D! It’s a really hard pill to swallow on some days and it just plain old sucks! I can’t get away with things like I did in my 20s, or even in my 30s for that matter. I can’t eat like I used to, or not eat like I used to. I used to be able to cut back on my eating and do a little exercise, and as a result, drop a few pounds in a matter of days especially if I needed to fit into a cute little outfit. But the closer to 40 that I got, the more stubborn those pounds got. I certainly can’t drink and party like I used to (not that I ever did much of that), that $%&* just hurts… for days. While we’re on this whole “my body isn’t what it used to be” thing – it’s a hard day when you realize you’ve got cellulite and it seems to be here to stay – ugh, seriously? When did THAT happen? The realization that your skin isn’t as elastic as it once was and things are… sagging … that’s a special kind of hell. #SendHelp
If all those things weren’t bad enough, the day that some punk kid at the grocery store stopped IDing me, “Ohhhhhh no he didn’t!” He then proceeded to call me “Ma’am” … I was now considered an older “lady”… I was no longer a “girl” or “young lady” or even a “miss”… what just happened?
And when did this happen?? Did I miss a memo or something?
Then I had some “shocker” moments, too. It’s a real eye opener when you see one of your old classmates (from high school most likely) from afar and you say to yourself, “Holy…. Dude looks old! He’s got a dad bod, a beer belly, a receding hairline… what happened to that hot jock that I used to have a mad crush on?” (No judgment, truly though…). Or for the lady equivalents from your childhood, when you spot some of the girls you may have admired and envied their style and athleticism, and now you spot them with sag-you-know-what in mom jeans… that’s the day you have to come to terms with the fact that you are all at “that stage in your life” – and are no longer 20.
“Excuse me? Say what?”
But wait – just wait. Don’t tar and feather me just yet. Just listen: don’t get me wrong! I’m not hating on my old friends, classmates or contemporaries – not at all! This is in fact more a “me” thing than a “they” thing. I’m not criticizing them or body shaming them, or anything of the sort. Not at all. So please don’t send me hate mail – please.
Let me explain: I’m simply stating that it’s a shock to see people who used to symbolize your youth and they’re… not youthful anymore. Because if they’re not youthful, that means that YOU are not either! And that is what is the hardest thing in those moments. It makes you question, “Do I have a dad bod? Are these jeans mom jeans? Is my a$$ sagging?” And all of that has you questioning if in fact you’re not youthful any more. (Note to self: go through my closet and donate that one pair of jeans that are definitely mom jeans and anything else that could qualify as such).
Let’s just take a moment and let the notion that you might not be youthful anymore – let’s let that little fun realization set in…
…. Still setting in…
That said, let me back paddle for a minute, because we all age differently – life is kinder to some more than others – and we all take care of ourselves differently as well as endure different challenges… so maybe your bestie from high school could pass for 30, while your other bestie might look more like they’re nearing 50 (or maybe you’re the one in the friend group that looks closer to 50, oh the horror!). You just never know… but my point is simply this: the day you spot the beer belly and mom jeans on your former friends and classmates – whoa! Is it a shock to not just your system but to your perceived reality. Oy vey.
Wait, am I a cougar?
You know what was a real eye opener, too? I was chatting with a friend of mine – for anonymity purposes, let’s just refer to her as “SA”, and she was telling me about this cute college coach she encountered when visiting colleges with her college-bound son. She was totally smitten with said coach, and was telling me all about her encounter. And isn’t that such a fun conversation to have with girlfriends – appreciating a handsome man or beautiful woman? Male or female – we appreciate everyone equally.
And just to clarify, it’s okay that “SA” was looking despite being married. But just look – don’t touch… It’s okay “SA”.
Well, we certainly thought so – until realization hit: “SA’s” story quickly took a turn and made her realize that she was regalling me about some young, hot guy that was – wait for it – barely 30… wait, wait – hold the phone, what? Realization came like a semi-truck T-boning a little SmartCar in that moment .. and just to clarify, “SA” was the SmartCar that just got rocked… and it hit her pretty quick – sobered both of us right up – in one quick swoop, because “SA” realized that she had 20 years on this guy… That just changed the whole dynamic of her story. Haha.
When you’re in your 20s and 30s, it seems that age is somewhat irrelevant, for the most part, because you’re in that sweet spot – somewhere in the middle. You’re all in your prime, right? So age is like whatever. Well, let me tell you that on the day that my friend “SA” was telling me of her encounter with this young cute coach, that was the day that we both realized that we were “much older” than said young hottie… and it just felt wrong to be talking about him and her appreciating him. We were now the over-40 ladies talking about this young hottie that some might argue we were old enough to maybe even be his mother, her more so than me. Ughhhh!!! What horrible realizations were these? We could be considered Cougars! This was a really horrible day.
A similar thing happened to me more recently (the college coach story happened to my friend, I plead complete innocence on that one), when I was watching Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers play – or I mean, I was watching the 49ers play – when the commentators revealed his age… were you aware of the fact that Nick Bosa is only in his mid-20s? That he barely lived through any of the ‘90s? I think we should skip the age math on that one… it’s just too depressing. I swiftly proceeded to change the channel – to something more age-appropriate.
The realization about my age and stage of life also hit me when considering the age of some celebrities. What I mean by this is that we “grow up” with a group of musicians and actors – there are the ones that are obviously older, but then there’s the group that’s “our age” and are our contemporaries. So you grow up with crushes on such-and-such a celebrity, you listen to such-and-such a musician, and love movies by such-and-such an actor/actress. The day it hits you that some of these “younger” up-and-coming actors/actresses/musicians, that they were born in – wait for it – the late 90s or some time in the 2000s… wait a minute, what? These people weren’t even born when I graduated high school, let alone college? What fresh hell is this realization? And better yet, how did I become this old? #AskingForAFriend
Dealing with Mortality
So those are some of the thoughts that you find swirling around in your head at this stage of life – apparently. And that is the moment that more reality decides to hit you square in the face. That reality is your own mortality. Yup, the “m” word. Mortality.
You know how we all think we’re invincible when we’re young? Nothing can stop us. We’re going to live forever. We can do anything, we are truly invincible and we’re going to rule the world! You know that mindset, right? Yeah, well, that comes to a … not end, but it comes a contemplative pause the moment you come to terms with your own mortality. In that moment you find yourself asking things such as, “Am I at the halfway mark? Is this half-time in the game of my life?”
Of course we’ve all lost people at various stages of our lives, and of course life isn’t fair. The good often do die too young. I have experienced that myself, but I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t (luckily) lost too many people in my life. But the older you get, the more you have to come to terms with the mortality of your loved ones: your grandparents, your parents, your family members and friends – and your own mortality.
This was a really hard pill to swallow
You know how when you’re a kid, you always thought that your dad was invincible and probably the strongest man in the world? And you grew up thinking that your mom was the smartest, prettiest, and most talented person on the planet? The day you are forced to realize that your parents are no longer in the prime of their lives – your parents need your help – your parents are now grandparents – and they are no longer the untouchable people you always thought them to be… that’s a really hard day to come to terms with in this new reality that you find yourself in.
I also find it somewhat a fun exercise to think back to certain parts of my life and then do the quick math of how old my parents were at that time… low and behold, when they were 40 or 42 like I am today, I was in college (my parents had me young), and I thought my parents were so “mature” back then. I didn’t think they were old, because like I said, my parents had me young. But I just thought they were such adults, psssshhh oh the horror!. And now, here I am – at the same age – and I don’t feel like some mature adult. I mean, I know that I am an adult, but I just feel like – me… somewhere, floating between late 20s and anywhere in my 30s. (At this point I’d be more than thrilled to be considered in my mid-30s, not early 40s… *cringe).
Yet… the age that flashes on my drivers’ license highlights that I’ve reached a “certain age,” and that age is no longer being 30. And to me, this is a clear line that’s been drawn in the sand.
I don’t like that line.
I now find myself looking at things slightly differently. Jokes hit different, as do movies, music, and social commentaries. One of my favorite movies with my boy Paul Rudd, “This Is 40”… yeahhhh, this IS 40, baby! Also, fun fact and side note: this article is being published on April 6th, which so happens to be my birthday AND Paul Rudd’s birthday. Happy birthday to both Paul and me!
Talking about things hitting different, the things that my parents used to say or do… yeahhhh, I’m doing those things now. I’m getting annoyed at everyone for not cleaning up after themselves like my mom used to. I’m always telling my kids to “be careful”, or “don’t do this”, and to “do that this way”. It’s really been coming full circle. And that, the full circle moment, that’s a special kind of realization too. For those of you who haven’t reached it – you don’t even understand the words that you’re reading right now. But for those who have had that full circle moment – I see you! And I know you see me, too. How ya doin’ baby, how’s that circle treating you?
I find myself looking at the world in a different way – not everything, but just certain things. It’s like the glasses were taken off and I’m seeing things in a totally different light. Well in all fairness, maybe I’m doing that because I need prescription glasses to see properly – but you get the gist of the analogy… #INeedReadingGlasses
I’ve noticed that some of my contemporaries have decided to let age define them, that they have started to “act” their age – or whatever they think that their age now means. To that I say, “Heck no!” I don’t think that I’m old, despite everything I mentioned above that argues against me thinking that I’m NOT old. I truly think that, for the most part, age IS just a number. And you are only as old as you feel. And I am making every conscious effort to feel young. I feel 35 – that’s a pretty good age – and so I’m just going to keep telling myself that I’m 35 and maybe my body will just stay there too. #HeresHoping
I want to remain as youthful as I can, for as long as I can. So you won’t find me complaining about walking up stairs, or bending down to grab tupperware from the bottom shelf in the kitchen. I’m not old – I’m just worldly – I’ve seen things and experienced things. I’ve got experience and knowledge. Let’s just go with that, for arguments’ sake.
But of course I’m not going to pretend that some things haven’t changed. Mortality is there, and some of the realizations that I shared above aren’t going away. But I think I’ve come to terms with most of it. Honestly. It’s taken me about two years, but I’m coming to terms with it. Plus, look at J-Lo: Girl is in her 50s and she’s as fly as ever!
And besides, when the Golden Girls came out in the 80s, do you realize that they were supposed to be in their late 40s to early 50s – hmm, did you realize that? I bet you didn’t. But in today’s day and age, 40-year-olds are Carrie and the gang from Sex and the City… wait, maybe that was like so ten years ago…. Oops. So perhaps thanks to fine ladies and gentlemen (I still see you Brad Pitt) like J-Lo and many others, maybe 50 is the new 30? If that’s the case, I think that I’m finding myself in the sweet spot! And I’m happy with that. And with that knowledge and realization, I’m just going to continue to live my best life, that includes keeping fit, and doing everything to be my best and healthiest self. If I continue to do that, maybe I can look like J-Lo in another ten years. I mean, you gotta have some life goals, right?
That all said: This, this right here, yeah, this is 40. And I choose to embrace it. It took a moment to wrap my head around it, and the whole Nick Bosa thing stung, but I’m really okay (now) with where I am. I might be Googling convertibles in a minute, and I’m contemplating a mid-life crisis make-over (Loren at The Hair Lounge will be getting a call from me shortly for an appointment). But change is good, it keeps you young and in the moment. So I choose positive, in fact, I always choose positivity. Today and going forward, I choose to embrace this next chapter of my life. So happy birthday to me (and to you too, Paul Rudd). I say goodbye to the Dirty Thirty, and I welcome to the Flirty Forty.