Reflections on the ‘F’ Word

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I could let the date pass without saying a word. I’ve even contemplated changing my birthdate on my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles driving my denial down deeper; without the greetings and posts to my wall serving as a beacon, it could uneventfully slip by unnoticed like a dime floating in the bottom of my massive purse, tiny and insignificant. However, true to form, I’ve decided to tackle my denial, force it to rear it’s ugly head and make it cry ‘Uncle’.
I may have a distaste and resistance to the ‘F’ word, but that isn’t going to change the reality of the date of my birth and exactly how many candles will be on my cake this year (that is, if I ALLOW them to be there in the first place!)

Forty. That’s right. I said it. The ‘F’ word: FOR-TY! Why does the coming of this birthday seem so significant? Why does moving from my thirties into my forties seem to bring with it a mild sense of shame or perhaps embarrassment? It’s as though I am moving from cool to ‘square’, or from relatable to elusive. I know there are social and societal reasons for feeling this way, but I’m frustrated with myself for allowing what I know is bias and untrue, shape and form my opinion of myself; as if a single day in my history can redefine who I am!

In order to bring perspective to the inner backlash I was experiencing, I reached outward to those who have walked before me; to those women who have lived, survived and thrived past forty and onward. I sent an email to a handful of women who I respect, love, and want to be like when I grow up. My request was for reflection and guidance; what I received was warmth, love, and a deep sense of truth. It says in Proverbs 12:18 that ‘harsh words cut like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.’ As I read and digested the wise words that my ‘sisters’ shared with me, I felt a peace beginning to settle into my heart. This spiritual, relational, and perspective ‘pep talk’ from these women (ranging in age from 44-70+) was exactly what i needed to I venture into this new decade with confidence.
There were so many wonderful things that were shared with me, and for their willingness, I will be eternally grateful. There were a few truths that emerged from their responses that I would like to share with you.

One: Age is often irrelevant when you are busy living life to it’s fullest surrounded by family, friends, and those who matter most around you.

Two: with each passing year we become more ourselves; more able to let go of what we think we should be and start being who we are.

Three: For this one, I am going to steal a phrase that my dear cousin sent to me as part of her response; a simple phrase, so loaded with truth it stopped the negative thought freight train right in it’s tracks and will forever impact how I will look at getting older:

Do not regret growing older; it is a privilege denied to many.

Tonight, as I sit to complete this post, the clock has wandered past midnight which means I am now 40 years old. As I complete this post I am no longer begrudgingly moving into this next chapter in my life, for now the path is illuminated by those who have walked before me. And, with conviction and determination I will echo the words of my dear Great Great Aunty Ruthie: “I will take every day I can get!”

Becoming Ordinary: Year 1, Day 21

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4 responses »

  1. Great post, Lalainia. I just turned 40 at the end of July, and I thought I’d be fine with it.

    The surprising thing to me was just how emotional I became before, during, and after my birthday. I think much of that unusual emotionalism has to do with being a new dad, and not getting enough sleep these days, but it also brought up some deep-seated issues about my own perceptions about age.

    The age of 40 is still perceived a certain way by society, even though we like to say “40 is the new 30.” It’s hard to realize you’re 40 when you’re used to thinking of yourself as a younger person.

    Like

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