Growing up I always thought 40 was old. I distinctly remember my stepfather turning 38, and we threw a little party. As I decorated a banner with dozens of little 38’s, I thought, “Damn, this nigga is old.” I was 9 (my brain had a foul-mouth).
40 is the age when you are supposed to have it all together. Married. Kids. A great job, preferably as a doctor or a lawyer. You are supposed to own your own home, at least one pearl necklace, and a good pair of diamond earrings. You are supposed to have a nice car and good credit. You should have traveled to Paris, and the Bahamas at least twice. You should be in church, healthy and fit, and have beautiful, natural hair.
40 is the cutoff when you should have it all together.
But what if you don’t?
I’m 40 and I am NOT fabulous.
I’m 40 and kinda fucking up.
I’m living in New York City trying to “find myself.” Writing, reading, working a little, but mostly watching a lot of TV and masturbating. I quit the corporate job that I had when I came here sure that the rap industry would welcome me with open arms, instead, I interviewed with damn near every label only to be sent away feeling worse than when I walked in.
I live with a roommate and we are trying to rescue each other from our bad habits like apple pie and ice cream after midnight to other bad habits like apple pie and cigarettes after midnight. We schedule bi-monthly drunk nights which end in us singing, “Can You Stand the Rain,” and pulling out our college photo albums. I’m in a crazy relationship with a guy who I like, but who has a literal laundry list of reasons that he doesn’t want to be with me, in fact, I think my laundry on is actually on the list. My credit is a mess… and savings? Bitch, please.
There have been some great experiences too.
I go to a lot of amazing concerts, my writing career is picking up, and the writing that I’m not immediately getting paid for (like these blogs) are more creative and introspective.
But I’m not stable and I’m not fabulous.
I’m 40 and I feel more flawed than ever. I feel unsure about my future, I feel like I’m still trying to find my path in life. I am exploring the depths of my own heart and mind. I am trying to establish better relationships with my family, while still preserving my autonomy. I still feel insecure and unsure about my self-worth, skills, abilities, and goals.
All of the same fear is still there from my early 20s with the knowledge (and problems) of 40. The dating pool is smaller, my skin is drier, and expenses are higher.
One of the most popular hypothetical questions in the world is, “If you could be ___(age) again, knowing what you know now, would you do it?”
I feel, in a lot of ways, like I’m 21 again and know what I know now. While I am still making mistakes, I make a lot less of them and I bounce back from them faster. Because I became a mother at 19, there is so much self-exploration that I never got the chance to do. Instead, I had to give my mind, heart, soul, attention, money, energy, and focus to a child. I feel stunted. There is so much about myself that I still don’t know. This is what I am exploring… at 40. I am learning exactly who I am and am, thankfully, able to put the lessons that I learn into action much faster.
Last night I went to see Gabrielle Union speak about her new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine. She talked about how for such a long time she “didn’t feel worthy. For a long time, I didn’t feel my words were good enough, that I was talented enough.” Her words struck straight to my heart because that is the song that plays on repeat in my mind. But, ultimately, Gabs (my new BFF) overcame her fear and self-worth issues by being motivated by how much she wanted to help others. People relate to her stories, so she decided to tell them. I appreciate that motivation. I don’t necessarily write to help others, I write to help myself. I write to get out the thoughts in my heart and mind, to tell my story is to speak my truth.
And that’s the thing about being 40.
Even though you may not be as fabulous as you thought you would be. You know who you are. You know who you can be. And you are unapologetic about your authenticity.
You can be 40 and still be fucking up a little… Fuck up fabulously.