I lay in bed on the last day of my 30s suffering from insomnia. I listened to my family as they slept. I walked around our apartment in Rome. The minutes crept on and there was no denying it anymore that I was going to be 40 come the new day. This day had arrived a lot sooner than I expected. I had built up this day in my head for a while now, mostly looking at this age with dread and lamenting. In my head, my thoughts went like this, “I can’t believe you are so old,” “How did 40 arrive this quickly?”. “Wait, I haven’t reached my goal weight yet,” “This is not where I thought I’d be in my career,” and so on and so forth. You get the point. I was approaching 40 with feelings of mourning (mostly of my youth), foreboding and unease.
As the sun started to rise, my eyes slowly drifted asleep, I realized that I had been approaching this day wrong. I should have listened to my husband who always seems to be so sensible and mature given these situations. I alone define myself. I alone have the power to make of the moment and feel of the moment what I want. While my age and the lapse of time are simply out of my control, what I think about it, what I feel about it, are solely within my wheelhouse.
So as I woke up, I was greeted with the delightful songs of my kids singing me happy birthday, kisses from my husband, messages from my parents and brother and the sun shining into our beautiful apartment. I was blessed and felt beyond grateful. As I read the beautiful cards my family wrote and sat watching dear friends from around the world sharing beautiful moments of my life, I was reminded of all that I had experienced, all that I had lived, and all that I am.
The expectations I had had for this day slowly released their grasp on me and instead, feelings of acceptance and love embraced me. It turns out that 40 is not that bad afterall. And there’s some relief in knowing that.