What's to Love About Aging?

By Jen Holman

 

I turn 40 this month. In fact, by the time you’ve picked up this October issue of Savvy, I’ll have rounded the final corner of youth and left my thirties in the dust.

Maybe you’ve already been here. Maybe you’re approaching the same milestone. Or maybe 40 is so far away you can’t even imagine such an unjustified horror. Wherever you are in life, one thing’s certain: You’re aging, too, whether you agreed to it or not.

Some people choose to fight the aging process tooth and nail—or maybe that’s Botox and peel. Some welcome it with open arms. Most of us, I’m guessing, fall somewhere in the middle.

Forty didn’t sneak up on me. I knew it was coming. I’ve been planning a little party and working toward loving myself and all of the fun, quirky things my body is doing. I’ve even stopped coloring my hair, and I have to tell you this natural ombre is so liberating. Roots? Nope; supposed to look like that! As a bonus, I can spend the money I’ve saved on a trip to see that Chihuly exhibit at Crystal Bridges before it closes in November.

Love my natural ombre!

Love my natural ombre!

How strange it is that accepting ourselves and appreciating a natural and beautiful process takes work. When I turned 30, I made an offhand comment about the physical signs of aging—of course, now I’d kill for that level of collagen. Anyway, a friend responded with something I’ll never forget, something that took all I’d ever considered about maturing and turned it on its head. It was so simple. She made no judgements; gave no explanations. Just two words: “Look deeper.”

The more I thought about her directive, the more I realized she was right. I was only seeing the superficial aspects of aging—what I considered the disadvantages. I didn’t value personal growth or knowledge. I didn’t appreciate the confidence and emotional strength that comes with growing older…but I wanted to. And the funny thing that happened along the way was the more I began to value those things, the harder I worked to make them so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of my many shortcomings. But now, when I think of growing older, I add the good to the bad and it goes down better. Like a smoothie, banana and strawberry help get past the kale.

At this stage of life—which, according to the US Census and Merriam-Webster is five years shy of middle-aged—we know who we are. We’re probably well into careers and family. We know our talents, and our limitations. At 40, unrealized dreams may either spur us into action or allow for absolution.

What’s to love about being 40? A lot, actually.

Women in their forties know themselves. We’ve tested the limits and know what we’ll put up with—and what we won’t stand for. We’ve gained confidence. This is not to be confused with set in our ways. No, we’re confident because we know what we want and we go for it.

We appreciate life a little more. At this point, we’ve been through a few challenges and have hopefully come out the other side stronger, more determined. We appreciate what we’ve worked to have. We have a better understanding of the world and the people around us, and our place in it. We’ve learned to let go of toxic relationships. Don’t you wish you could tell your younger self to do this so much sooner? We’re looking lovelier. Okay, so, maybe we’ve lost a bit of elasticity. But truly, some of the most beautiful women I know— inside and out—are well past 40.

We’ve stopped trying to please everyone. It’s not possible, and we’re old enough to know better. I’m sure I missed some. As gray continues to multiply and gravity wins the war against perk, there is so much beauty to behold in ourselves if we’ll just look deeper.

 

Jen Holman is determined to be a voice of reason amongst reality TV and mom-judgment-gone-wild. Her newest novel (as yet unpublished) won the 2017 Rosemary award for excellence in young adult fiction. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three (im)perfect children.