Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Woman Never Tells Her Age

Yeah, right.

I am nearing that magical age of forty.  Not quite there yet, but it is at the end of the month.  Fabled as the middle ages (this assuming that I am living until 80, but with the family genes of women in my family living until the 90s, doesn't quite work for me), I am excited about this decade.

Everyone can pshaw me.  I have a complex about being treated as younger than I am.  I will say, I know I look younger, which is fine in social situations and not an issue for me.  Usually this bugs me most in a work situation.  It is getting more fun to say I'm in my late thirties, but still, I get the "you're still young" statement at work more times than I can count.  In my twenties, I thought, fair enough, but I do have ideas I would like to try.  In my early thirties, sure, I've only been out of grad school for 5-10 years, I need to get some time under my belt.  But now I'm starting to get a bit peeved.  How many years should one expect to be in the work force to get respect for experience?  So I keep thinking that maybe 40 is the magical number.  That this is the time that people will say, "Ok, yeah, she's been around the block a few times."  On the other hand, I have always worked with people older than me, so I guess they deserve to lord their years of experience over me.  But I would like them to acknowledge that I have spent enough time in my business to warrant a nod of recognition that I do know what I am doing, on occasion.

This has been a fun year on Facebook.  Old high school pals and acquaintances have been turning 40.  I've been trying to say witty and fun things for everyone's 40th birthday.  I think we all should embrace the 40 and run with it.  So many sayings about 40 is the new 20 and all that.

I have noticed, once the kids got older, it leaves more time for mom and dad to look back to themselves again.  I have a goal to participate in the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) next year.  I've done spin classes since January and try to get in 2-4 bike rides a week.  I'm impressed with myself in staying power in tackling 20+ miles.  I know I need to boost this number by quite a lot, but I'm very psyched about what I've started.  I think my son was inspired enough that he is going to sign up for a youth triathlon.  I'm almost thinking about doing it.  I never believed I was an athletic person in jr. high and high school.  Now I believe that maybe people like me might have responded better, if I hadn't been compared to my peers' abilities, but instead compared to my own abilities and that improvement over time was emphasized instead of trying to get me to beat the fastest people in class.  Seeing improvement in oneself is a great reward already.  It might be more motivating to kids rather than comparison to each other.  (I suppose that might also apply to learning)

Hitting this decade also makes me a bit reflective.  What have I done with my life until now?  What haven't I done that I used to do, that I should do more of?  What really matters?  Should I be doing more to improve the world, or is improving my part of the world, no matter how small, enough?

Nostalgia also hits.  I sometimes wish I could have told my teenage self that the things I cried over were really not worth it in the end, because they didn't matter in the long run.  But that is what age is for, to understand what is not worth it in the long run and to pare down your life into what is really worth it.

I'm taking you with me on this journey of hitting the big 4-0 from before the big day to beyond.  Let's see what this 40th decade is all about.  I am going at it with a cando attitude and challenging ideas of myself that may not be totally true and need to be changed.

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