I’m Closer to 40 Than 20, and this is What Needs to Change

In exactly one week, I will be turning 32 years of age.

32 years upon this earth. 32 years spent pretty much being the same slightly awkward, completely introverted, always-worried-I’m-being-too-quiet person I was born being. 32 years of waiting to feel like a grown up. (Side note to those older than me: does that actually happen at some magical age or do you just accept that adulthood is totally weird?)

I’m not usually one to freak out over birthdays, but ever since I crossed the threshold into my 30s, I have felt slightly off-kilter. Not in the sense that I feel like turning 30 means my life is on the decline, but more in the sense that I have no idea where my 20s went. I started having kids at 21 and didn’t really stop for the next 10 years, so I know where my 20s went, but still, it feels like I just woke up from a really restless, broken night of sleep and now I don’t know where the heck I am. One minute I was giving birth in college and the next, my 10-year-old was asking me what was wrong with my eyes because they have lines on them. I don’t even know where women shop for wrinkle cream, and yet, I have wrinkles! Somehow, in the span of having babies, I became a woman-who-is-middle-aged and it’s a very weird place to be.

And as 32 draws closer, so does the rather shocking realization that I am actually closer to 40 than I am to being 20. Forty! That feels as foreign as 70 to me at this point, and yet, it’s just around the corner.

This realization does not bring me a lot of peace. I truly thought that by now, I would have a lot more clarity in my life. I thought I would finally be at peace with who I am, that I would be handling life more gracefully, and I definitely thought that I would finally be getting dressed and doing my hair on a regular basis.

Precisely zero of those things have happened.

What has happened, however, is I’ve gotten a serious wake-up call. I no longer have time to waste. I can’t sit around, waiting to magically turn into the type of person that I hope to become or for my goals to finally achieve themselves. The time to start working on making sure my life is something I am proud of is now, not later. Staring down 40 does things to you, guys, and whether it’s a mid-life crisis of sorts or just a mid-get-my-life-together-kick-in-the-butt, my upcoming birthday has inspired me to start taking a few more steps towards becoming the adult I hoped to be, like:

Finally finishing my book

I’ve been writing the next great American novel in my head since I was about seven years old. Once upon a time, I had great aspirations to have my book out in the world by age 30. But 30 has come and gone now (gulp) so I stopped making excuses and started getting to work. I joined an accountability group through Ashly Hilts of Ink and Grace Editing and set some realistic goals for my word count. Only a month into my challenge and I’m down over 22,000 words! I am so proud of myself for finally getting serious.

Traveling more

I love to travel, but I’ve always waited for “someday” to take the trips I’ve dreamed about. Add in the fact that my husband really doesn’t love to travel and I have young kids, and my passport has stayed firmly unstamped. But again, it’s time to start exploring more and I’m making more of an effort to get out there (literally). I flew to California for a writing retreat, visited my sister, and in honor of my birthday, I’m taking a girls’ road trip to Massachusetts for a mother-daughter yoga retreat. You have to start somewhere, right?

Accepting my lack of style

The way I look at it, there are two choices I have regarding my own personal (lack of) style: 1) I could fight who I am and force myself to get fit, buy a whole new wardrobe and spend hours learning how to style my hair and makeup, or I could 2) accept that this is who I am, rock the messy bun for life, and maybe throw on a pair of fake lashes now and then so I don’t look completely dead.

At this point, given my advanced age (lololol), I’m opting for the latter. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, right?

Turning 32 and closing the gap into 40 might be the scariest part of my life right now, but in a way, I am grateful that I’m finally waking up to realize that there is no time like the present to start achieving my goals. I am going to rock the heck out of being a New York Times Bestseller and I’ll probably be OK with being a grandma with a messy bun.

I’m going to start being the adult I hoped to be all along. Right after I find some wrinkle cream, of course.