Today I turn the Big 4-0. I am not sure how 4 decades crossed my path but they have. Just like every birthday that has passed, I don’t think I feel any older and unfortunately I don’t feel much wiser. I have anticipating this day since this time last year when I turned 39. I had certain expectations I wanted to meet in my career, financially, emotionally, and physically by 40. I am not sure why we set these time lines for ourselves but 40 is a benchmark for many. It is for me.
Well, I have to admit if I look over my life as it is right now and try to compare it to my expectations, I will far very short. I am still trying to rebuild my body from the child/school/work driven sabbatical that was partially influenced by attempting to rebuild my career (thus my finances) after leaving my dream job in academia to follow my husband’s more lucrative job to the middle of now-where-burg in rural PA.
Here is the thing that I have realized about time, it keeps passing and I keep passing with it. I keep plugging along trying to push harder, to improve, to accept, to learn, to adjust, to understand, to fall down, to get back up and start again. What I love about this process is that you have the opportunity to continue to grow as a person, to understand how you tick and how to meet the needs of others while meeting your own.
I think over the past decade I have learned a lot about myself. This past few years have been exceptionally enlightening from a personal stand point. They have certainly not been the easiest years on record but I believe I have pushed myself to the point that I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know what really makes me internally happy. What I know is that I am one of the lucky ones. I have great friends, an amazing family, a safe place to call home, a fantastic, hardworking, supportive and not so patient, loving husband. I have two beautiful healthy little girls that warm my heart and soul. I want to slap myself for complaining about personal space when I should be so grateful I cannot sit down anywhere with two kids and a dog piled up on top of me. I have a career that is exciting, fun and enriching. I love to teach, I love being able to work from home but then jump in my car to run up to practice to get out in the fresh air. I can still play soccer with a bunch of 16 year old girls and dammit that is saying something.
Do I feel 40? I don’t know, I am not sure what it is supposed to feel like, if is supposed to feel like anything. I still feel like the same core person I was when I was 16. Obviously, I have grown up, matured, and developed into an adult, mother, and wife but I am still just Kristen. I guess when I was 16 looking at the 40 year olds, I thought they were old, boring and somehow they lost their souls somewhere between 30 and their crappy jobs. Yes, the 16 year old Kristen has grown up some.
I guess what I feel today is proud. I feel proud and fortunate to be here at this moment in time with the life that I have with the people I have touched and been touched by. I feel empowered by the decade jump rather than depressed. Perhaps that is my wisdom for my 39th year. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference the age on the card, as long as you don’t loose yourself along the road. We will see if I am still singing the same song a decade from now but for now 40 is looking pretty damn good.