Before 40

Last week, I turned 39. So it might seem strange that I’m already thinking about my next birthday.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to age out of childhood. I was always more comfortable around adults, so naturally, I wanted to be one. I fantasized about being one of those cool older women, with gorgeous gray hair, rock climbing into my 60s, kicking ass and taking names.

Never mind that I’m terrified of heights and have never rock climbed a day in my life. IT’S MY FANTASY, OKAY?! (Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash)

What I didn’t anticipate was that I’d start having a midlife crisis in my 20s. By 30, my master plan of aging gracefully came to a screeching halt. I was freaking. The. Freak. Out.

What am I doing with my life? What’s the point of it all? What if I never figured “it” out?

The crisis, in many ways, continues to this day. Perhaps suggesting we have more of an existential, versus midlife, one on our hands. This can’t be it. This can’t be all there is. Accumulating baggage and trying to unload it. Accumulating more baggage, attempting to unload it. Over, and over, and over. An endless series of life lessons, distilled into messages that read like a crappy, floral-covered mug.

Love is the answer. Live in the moment. Breathe.

My 39th birthday was filled to the brim with love and celebration. It always feels deeply humbling and bittersweet to be on the receiving end of so much kindness. Face in the sunshine, puffy white clouds, heart full – full of gratitude, but also the knowing that every puffy white cloud casts a shadow. Darkness and light. Hope and despair. Two sides of the same coin, forced to exist together to hold any value.

And maybe that’s at the root of all of our crises. The idea that there’s anything to hold onto. A certain person. A certain age. A certain weight. A certain feeling. A certain bank balance. A certain outcome. In the quest for certainty, we miss out on so much.

So over the next 11 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days, as I wind my way towards my biggest milestone birthday yet, I’m going to try something different. I’m NOT going to sit here and type out a list of all of the things I want to make happen before I turn 40, which was my original plan.

I’ve already checked countless boxes. Hiked/run/biked all the miles. Surpassed my own To Do lists. If any of that held the Key to Existence, Oprah would have interviewed me by now.

Annnnd still waiting.

The coming year will be as likely filled with promise as it is with heartache. There will be picture perfect moments with people who raise my spirits, and lonely nights with a bottle of wine that whispers, “You’re unlovable.” Suns will set and rise, and laughter will come and go, and instead of trying to hold onto any of it, this year, I’m just going to ride the waves.

F&@*. That sounds like a floral-covered mug.

23 thoughts on “Before 40”

  1. Happy Birthday, belatedly. I get why you’re already looking at your fortieth. It’s psychologically a big one, but not like when you turn 44… which is halfway to 88. To put it all in perspective! 😁

  2. I rolled through 30 with a smile. 40 didn’t bother me at all. But 50? Damn, everything started breaking down and while I’m usually not introspective… menopause made me question if my body was even my own anymore. Not sure how that’s supposed to be helpful…. but happy birthday anyway!

        1. If I make it through the next decade, it’ll only be because by then I’ll consist of 47% vodka and 50% marijuana edibles. Don’t ask about the other 3%.

  3. Happy belated birthday Jules! The 40s were ok, went very fast. Now in the 60s, where did the time go??? I admire your gumption to make all the changes you’ve made in your life. So, enjoy the ride and stay well! 🙂

    1. Thank you!! I think we’ve all had an especially weird relationship with time over the past 1+ year… I am kind of looking forward to time flying again (I’ll probably regret saying that)!

  4. You’ve been beautiful at every age and always will be! Well, maybe like Rivergirl says…50 and menopause. That could be a challenge. You might want to consider rock climbing then.
    LOL. NO. Please don’t. We all look forward to years of your insights, humor, amazing photos, adventures and spewing rainbows (Now there’s a mug for you!).

  5. You are totally lovable… and I do like sooome flower mugs. I’d like to join you in just stopping the hold on mentality., but daaaamn, that’s a challenge! Love you Jules! Sarah

    1. Love you too, Sarah! I hope you’re on the hunt for some souvenir mugs that we can promptly fill with matcha and rainbows. (That sounds like something we can gather at BoobsNBush, no?)

  6. Happy 39th!! I’ll let you in on a secret: the forties are all about self acceptance so your fifties can be about not giving a flying f*ck and just doing your thing.

  7. I love your go-get-it attitude! My 40th is coming up soon (less than 2 years to go) and I have mixed feelings about it… Let’s put it this way, I was depressed on my 26th birthday bc I thought I was “getting old”. Eeek if I could go back and slap the crap outta that whiney idiot (me), I would… trust me. LOL happy birthday! 🙂

    1. I am at the age where I sustain noteworthy injuries while trying to do anything that a 21-year-old does regularly. Beach volleyball, binge drinking, beer pong…

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