An Open Letter to 40

40th Birthday cake getting smashed with high heel shoe.  Candles flying, confetti, red velvet cake.
40th Birthday cake getting smashed with high heel shoe. Candles flying, confetti, red velvet cake.

Dear 40:

I am looking forward to meeting you next week, though I realize you've been trying to introduce yourself to me for a few years now. Thank you for preparing me for our meeting, though I must tell you I really could have done without the unexpected onset of vertigo every time I look at anything moving in a circular motion, sudden far-sightedness and alarming loss of elasticity in the lower regions of my face.

Oh, I know others will try to flatter me by saying they don't see the latter, but you and I both know it's not gone unnoticed by my appallingly honest mirror.

I suppose you get some sort of narcissistic thrill out of how much everyone talks about you -- even fears you. I also wonder if you're annoyed when people say you're the "new 30" in the same way I used to wonder if 30 thought it to be a jab to be called the "new 21." But, hey, at least 21 is known for being the life of the party.

I must admit, I do take solace in knowing that Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and Drew Barrymore met you earlier this year. Why does it matter? I suppose it shouldn't, but seeing that they continued to be just as smart, beautiful and funny after their birthdays as before was somehow comforting.

Since you first began making your way toward me, I will acknowledge I've noticed things beyond the physical hints you've been dropping -- like my doctor suddenly adding the qualifier "relatively" before referencing my age as "young." On that same note, my insurance company also stopped scoffing at my request for a mammogram. Oh, and by the way 40, I've found it pretty rude how far you make me scroll on the drop down menu when selecting my year of birth for an online survey.

But let this be known: I am not afraid of you personally, 40. I really am not. You should know that if you've come to bring a legit middle-ager in to your throngs, you will find me super ill-prepared.

At work I was always the youngest person in the room for such a long time until, all of the sudden ... I wasn't. There was a change in professional verbiage used to describe me -- from "potential" to "experienced." I want you to know that "experience" and "potential" are not mutually exclusive, 40. It's pretty vicious how you've led some people to believe that.

Don't you remember that I am the girl who lived to ride The Zipper -- you know, the ride that whirled me round and round, exhilarated by the uncertainty surrounding whether or not the ride had been correctly assembled by the traveling fair. That girl lived for her next adrenaline rush. She was fearless, and she had all sorts of plans. She didn't know it, but she also had the whole world in her hands. Well, guess what 40? That girl is still here, except -- here is the kicker -- now she knows what she can do.

If you've come expecting a complacent 70s baby who plans to live the rest of her life vicariously through the experiences and achievements of her children, you're barking up the wrong tree, man. I am not done with my story, 40.

I am going to Vera Wang/Julia Child/Laura Ingalls Wilder all over your face. Go ahead, 40 -- Google what they all achieved after they met you.

So 40, take your burgeoning mid-life crisis and threat of pushing me "over the hill" and shove it.


Zipper Girl