Over the past few months, I've watched with contented curiosity as my friends turned 40. Some of these friends I've known since high school, others for most of my life. Today it was my turn. It was a typical, relaxing summer day: pool with the family, Starbuck's frappacino, grilled steak, corn on the cob, potato pancakes, watermelon, and chocolate cake. No big presents or surprises or parties. It was exactly what I wanted and asked for.
Turning 40 used to seem like a bigger deal. I remember in my teen years my parents planned and went to 40th birthday parties with grim reaper balloons and all the jokes about old age and the death of youth, being over the hill with that midlife crisis looming.
Frankly, I've been on a long climb for the past 20 years. I spent half my 20s drunk and the other half in the early stages of recovery. My midlife crisis came when I was 30, childless, and unemployed. I've spent the past 10 years growing, sometimes painfully, into my role as wife and mother and woman.
Today I'm on a plateau. No downhill in sight. My life is healthier, more content and fuller than it's ever been.
Today I know how I want to be treated and can walk away from toxic relationships.
Today I can ask for what I need instead of waiting to be asked what my needs are.
Today I know that everything works out the way it's supposed to. Every time.
Today I know how to take care of myself, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Today I know that it's no one's job to make me happy or take care of me. People can make happy and take care of me, but I don't demand or expect it.
Today I know that if something doesn't feel right for me, I don't have to do it.
Today I don't compare myself to others. The only person I try to be better than is the person I was yesterday.
Today I know that what other people think of me is none of my business. What I think of myself is what's important.
Today I'm content with what age and experience has taught me.
I also no longer believe the universe is testing me when things don't go smoothly. It's all just life. And it's good to be alive and 40.