Reflections on 40: Betwixt and Between

August 18, 2010


 Pam and the Balloons - BlogHer 2010

Yesterday I turned 40.  I wish I could say I took it in stride but the fact is it was a strange moment.  Something about this whole “welcome to the club” really wasn’t sitting well with me.  For weeks I sort of dreaded it – and, truth be told, I’m still not completely comfortable with this new number.

BestFriendWendy, who is a year behind me, called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday and, as best friends do, asked how I was with it all.  I really hadn’t come up with a good way to describe it – even to myself – and just kept saying, “Well, it just feels DIFFERENT.  And weird.”

But as I tried to fumble my way through explaining “different” and “weird” it hit me.  I feel like I have my feet in two different worlds – neither of which I really belong. 

In my head and heart if I look to my left, I’m 25, or in college or grad school and, thanks to the powers of social media these days, still get to participate in those friends’ lives.  In my heart no one’s changed (myself included) but my head knows a lot has happened to us along the way.  But sit us down in a room together and I don’t see any of that stuff – it’s just my friends with whom I shared a lifetime’s worth of experience with in only a few short years.

If I look to my right it is my present and future life.  15 years away from 25 with a husband, a family, a job, two blogs, 1000 interests and the fact that I am a grown up now.  I’m the last person in my peer group to turn 40 and one travel friend I’ve reconnected with lately commented “How can you not be 40 yet?!”  She’s right.  I was always the youngest – or felt the youngest in a group – and I kinda liked that.

But it seems like once you’re 40 you’re just like everyone else.  That must be that club everyone references.  That’s the marker – welcome to it.  Now you’re just like the rest of us.  The 20s starts with a 2 and, well, the 3 in 30s doesn’t seem that far away, right?  The numbers are just right next to each other in line.  But the 4 in 40s?  Well, that’s not close to that 2 any longer.  Can’t deny that one.  It’s math.

But my left foot?  It’s still over there.  I still feel that way.  What if I like it there?  What if I just continue to straddle this weird line and never fully get on one side of it?  Does it mean I don’t appreciate the side my right foot is on?  Where my “real” life is at?  No.  No it doesn’t.

So right now I know what 40 feels like, but I don’t know what it means.  It feels heavy.  It feels old.  It feels serious and weird.  It feels like I’m trying on a new pair of shoes that needs to stretch a little.

But this picture that was taken by the lovely and talented Amber at BlogHer two weeks ago?  It’s me right now.  I didn’t notice the balloon off to the side and its message, “Make it Count” – but it’s timely.  I’m enjoying adding adventure back into my life and breaking out and doing interesting things even if I am way out of my comfort zone.  And I’m enjoying the feeling of winging it and seeing what happens – along with the results that can be surprising in many, many ways.  I’m enjoying tasting life and all the nuances it brings.

And eventually these 40-year old shoes will stretch and fit and not feel constricting and give me blisters.  Don’t know when, but eventually.

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20 Responses to “Reflections on 40: Betwixt and Between”

  1. elz Says:

    Next to my husband, you’re the most fabulous 40 year old I know! You know how to start a mega milestone birthday off right, my friend. felicitations.

  2. MainlineMom Says:

    Happy Birthday girlfriend! You don’t look a day past 25. 🙂

  3. Tony Says:

    You’re looking gorgeous, young lady. Now – get over this and go sell something!!

  4. Knighton Says:

    Happy Birthday, lovely lady! Next time you’re in Austin, let’s celebrate with drinks and cake!

  5. Kathryn (@kat1124) Says:

    Happy Birthday, new friend! Love the picture of you at the top of the post.

    For a little over 40 perspective…I’ll be (gulp!) 50 this year. I have loved my 40s. 40 itself was an amazing year, I got married that year. I had a baby when I was 45. I’m going to be 50 and I’m going to college. So I would say that you will probably rock your 40s, because age really is NOTHING but a number. We can do anything in our 40s.

  6. Jonathan Says:

    Belated many happy returns 🙂

  7. Jorja White Says:

    happy birthday beautiful lady! i really do know that feeling…that odd, almost surreal place of almost hovering over your BIG LIFE, while you feel like your heart and soul are still decades younger. i have almost come to the conclusion that the two can be married or at least meshed in some way…i may not be able to keep my damn boobs from sagging or my chin from looking like a turkey’s neck, but hell, my life is never going to look like an old lady’s! cheers to you and whatever shoes you decide to wear – i’m with you on either side of that line girl! happy, happy day!

  8. Dia Says:

    I was an idiot in my 20’s, feeling pressured to do something, be somebody, and go somewhere. In my 30’s I realized I am someone – and started really enjoying that person. I love being 40 because I still feel young enough to have dreams and goals and be healthy and happy, but am old enough to not care about measuring up or pleasing others. 40 seems like a great balance of where I’ve been, and where I’d still like to go …

  9. Amber, theAmberShow Says:

    Happy birthday! It IS just a number, said the girl who hadn’t turned 30 yet.

    Speaking of which, thank you for being awesome and giving me someone to look up to. My entire life I’ve believed that being 40 meant being boring (my parents were uninspired and inartistic at 40). You being fabulous you has helped me solidify the fact that I can still kick-ass and have fun when I’m older than 30. Rock the fuck on.

    • Pammer Says:

      “Rock the fuck on” should totally be your tagline. That is perfect and an outstandingly awesome way of life. Thank you for the kind words, my new friend — they mean much.

  10. DesignHER Momma Says:

    OMG, you are stunning on your birthday!

    • Pammer Says:

      And YOU just made my night! Thanks so much- I wish we’d had a chance to meet at BlogHer. Perhaps at Mom2Summit in NOLA? 🙂