Thoughts On Turning 40

Today is my 40th birthday!

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted today’s post to be but couldn’t make up my mind. Should I talk about financial lessons learned in my first 40 years? Should it be more introspective and broad about life lessons in general? What about a tribute to my grandfather, since I was born on his birthday? Since I can’t make up my mind, I’ll be using all these ideas as posts throughout the month. Today I’ll give you a little more insight into who I am and why it feels so weird to be turning 40.

Let me start by saying how honored I am to have been born on my grandfather’s birthday. Many people tend to think 13 is an unlucky number but my (very biased) perception has always been the opposite. How lucky am I to share my birthday with someone I care so much about? Sadly, he passed away in 1995, a month before his 80th birthday (and my 19th). I think about him often and how I know he’d be so proud of all his kids and grandchildren. He’s definitely been missed in the 21 years since his passing. Happy Birthday Grandpa.

Moving on to what today’s post is mainly about….emotional maturity.

I’ve been blessed in the fact that my appearance makes me look so much younger than I really am. It’s common for people more than 5 years younger than me to think I’m younger than they are. But I often wonder just how much of their perception is due to my appearance. After all, I’m single and childless and I’m also not interested in moving up the corporate ladder. How much do these other factors influence the age people think I am, driven by societal norms?

Just as I haven’t followed the expected life of a now 40-year-old woman, I’ll fully admit that my maturity level really hasn’t changed since my early 30s. It simply hasn’t had to. All the big life changes that make you feel like an adult haven’t happened in my life. I’ve had the benefit of being able to live selfishly through the lack of a spouse and kids. My life has mainly been all about me.

This isn’t to say that I’m immature — I did purchase my house when I was 24 years old and I’m caring for a diabetic cat entirely on my own. Those things require a great deal of responsibility. But from an emotional standpoint, I still peg myself somewhere in my late 20s or early 30s.

Since I’m behind in my emotional maturity, I find it crazy that I’m now 40 years old. I certainly don’t feel that old, although my body likes to remind me every now and then. Although I’m a Gen X-er, I laugh when I read online about millennials talking about “adulting,” as I can totally relate to this. It also leads me to one of my favorite movie quotes, from Liberal Arts (starring Josh Radnor), approximately 59 minutes in:

“Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret”

My sentiments exactly. I keep wondering when I’ll have life figured out. After all, that’s part of what it means to be an adult, right? While I’m not there yet, I do owe a lot to the personal finance community. They’ve helped me to see what life could be, living without debt and being financially independent. It’s given me more of a purpose and something to work towards.

At what age did you feel like an adult? What life events caused you to feel that way?

One thought on “Thoughts On Turning 40

  1. Hooray for 13th birthdays! Happy bday to you and your grandpa. 🙂 I totally agree with you that none of us ever grows up. It’s been super interesting to watch my dad, who is in his late 60s, but clearly thinks he’s still a young person. Mr. ONL and I call ourselves “kids with assets,” which clearly downplays the responsibility we actually do have and do exercise, but in our minds, we really don’t feel much different than we did a decade or more ago. And I’m in the same boat on looking younger, but I bet we’ll appreciate that more and more with each passing year. 😉
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