Turning forty is something that is remarked upon often in our society. It’s an age that is associated as a pivotal point. A definitive year. Yet most of the conversations around this milestone are concentrated on the physical aspects.
I’ve witnessed those changes. But I’ve also witnessed a far more fundamental shift. And it’s nothing to do with my skin or my hair or my inability to handle more than two glasses of wine without repercussions. It’s everything to do with my mind.
My tolerance for the meaningless is lowering faster than my estrogen levels. My interest in what’s trending is thinning far more rapidly than my hair and my concern about cellulite doesn’t even register.
In short, I’m running out of f*cks to give. And it’s wonderful.
I was standing in line at a store last week with my husband. In front of us were a selection of magazines with loud headlines on celebrity news and tips on all the things we apparently need in our lives. Things that will change us and bring us joy. Things that we must have now. But wait, no, now’s too late, it’s changed. It’s something else. Hang on, stop. STOP. It’s changed again.
How are we supposed to keep up? More importantly, why would we want to?
But as I stood there looking at the trash can, I mean, magazine stand, I couldn’t help thinking ‘I used to buy these’. And I did. I used to contribute to the success of the media machines that told me how to look, how to dress. How to live.
What a way to be disempowered.
I stopped buying those kind of magazines years ago. I think I just got tired of feeling as though I was constantly falling short. I started seeing the headlines for what they really were:
‘Self Esteem Incinerator – Burn Yours Here!’
‘Photoshopped Body – Don’t Leave Home Without It’
When I stopped buying into the falsehoods, I started thinking more for myself. I said no to being spoon fed and I began to pay attention to what I liked the taste of and what left me feeling sour.
It was the beginning of a change that has only served to benefit me. And, contrary to what those kind of magazines would have me believe, turning forty (and more recently forty-one) has been nothing short of enlightening.
Just as my body now seems to have a different set of responses and requirements, so too does my mind. The crucial conversations I want to have aren’t about where the best cocktails are served. Not even close. I’m not interested in whether you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone. I’m interested in whether you are someone that I’d want to know.
So, here’s my online sign. Here’s what I’m saying straight up.
I do not care if your bag is designer.
I want to know if you will help carry the load when you see those who are struggling.
I do not care if you dine at fancy restaurants.
I want to know if you will share your food with those who know the depths of hunger.
I do not care about the cost of your clothes.
I want to know if you can give a warm embrace to a lonely heart.
I do not care about your cool connections.
I want to know if you are moved to act when humanity is hurting.
I do not care about the things you own.
I want to know about the experiences that have changed you.
I do not care if you have a college degree.
I want to know what you have learned in life and what you will teach others.
I do not care how much or how little you have in your bank account.
I want to know who you value and hold dear.
I do not care if your house is a mess.
I want to know if you’ll welcome a friend in need.
I do not care what your body weighs.
I want to know what how much compassion is in your heart.
I do not care about whether your life is picture perfect.
I want to know how real and unfiltered your love is.
When I look back at the years I’ve lived I can chart my change through childhood passions that turned into teenage dreams that became adult explorations. I’m still seeking, still learning, still finding my way through the tangle of what was, what is and what could still come to be.
I won’t be told that I have to stay within the confines of a dumbed down existence that only caters to a mind that isn’t enquiring. That’s a room that I don’t want to occupy. I’ve lived in that space before and now I’ve outgrown it’s walls of conformance.
My forties are teaching me that I am the queen in residence in my own mind and it is my sovereign right to choose my own path. If I meet you along the way then I’d love to get lost in a conversation that counts.
Photo credit: Leon Cato Photography