This is Almost 40

Vicky Willenberg essays

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In two months and 24 days, I will be 40. Like many of life's milestones, it's a good time to take pause and reflect. 

I can happily say, I think I have much to be proud of. I've accomplished most of the goals I set and many of the ones I didn't meet weren't necessarily “unmet,” so much as they simply changed as I changed. What was once a dream to teach at the high school level morphed into a love for middle school students instead. My burning desire to become a triathlete, cooled to more reasonable goals.  And my plan to marry a wonderful man, and forgo having children because we'd be busy traveling the world and having a fabulous life….Well, I got half of that one right.

That being said, I wish I'd done a few things differently.

Although I grew up in sunny San Diego, the number of times I've actually gone in the ocean are few and far between—too worried about how I look to get out of my chair. I didn't boogie board with my kids often enough or regularly go for walks on the beach to collect seashells. I should have worn more skirts or even a pair of shorts now and again. I wish I'd enjoyed simply moving on a long walk rather than berating myself for not running fast enough or long enough. I never scheduled that second surf lesson or threw caution to the wind and bought the paddleboard I dreamed of using each morning after I dropped the kids at school. We didn't eat outdoors nearly enough. Nor did we use our fire pit to make s'mores as often as we could have and should have. I wish I'd jumped on the trampoline more—in spite of the pee. I should have encouraged more lemonade stands and ridden more water slides or worried less about getting them into bed on time. 

The list of should have's and could have's and wishes and worries is long. 

Yet I can still say with confidence that this has been a life well-lived thus far. Five years ago I don't know if I would have been able to have this perspective. And that, my friends, is what Almost 40 looks like. I can look over this first half (God willing) of my life and see that so many of the choices I made were the product of two things: my age and my self-confidence. Neither of which I had enough of. Until now.

Age is a powerful thing. As we know, with age comes experience. In my almost 40 years I have experienced a lot and learned some valuable lessons. I've come to realize I'm capable of much more than I ever give myself credit for. I've finally accepted that although life can feel overwhelming a lot of the time, it's not always about “getting it right.” Life is full of u-turns and do overs so if I don't get it right the first time, I have endless opportunities to. And most importantly, most things aren't as dire as I think they are—we will get through them and we will survive.
Our pastor once said he finds it funny that we talk so much about low self esteem when there are few things we give more time, more money or more thought to than ourselves. What kind of crazy person would invest so much into something they don't at least like? Obviously, we like ourselves plenty.

Being Almost 40 has brought me to a place where I don't know if I'm more confident, so much as I'm much more comfortable in my own skin. I know who I am—for better or for worse. I'm a good friend and a loving wife. I second guess most of my parenting decisions which, although annoying, keeps me honest and makes me think before I act…most of the time. I care way too much about the way I look.  I scrutinize my thighs much more than my choice of words. I try hard not to be envious, but fail. A lot. But when you put all those pieces together, you get me. And at almost 40 I can finally say, I'm OK with that. I rather like the skin I'm in.

As Almost 40 turns into Actually 40 I'm going to try hard to remember these things and live accordingly. I will get out of my beach chair and walk the beach looking for seashells and sand crabs. I will spend more time in the ocean and on water slides. I will throw my best tricks on the trampoline—pee and all. I'll eat outdoors in spite of the bugs and worry a little less about what time my kids go to bed. I'll try to envy a little less and love a little more—even my thighs. I will spend the next half of my life tied down by my own silly insecurities, skewed perceptions or my bikini strings!

Besides, rumor has it, 40 is the new 25 and if I'm this together at 25… just imagine how fabulous I'll be at 50.

This is what almost 40 looks like and I think I like it.


About the Author

Vicky Willenberg

Vicky Willenberg is a wife and mom. She currently work in Social Media and Communications when she is not folding laundry from 2 weeks ago, driving someone to practice or looking for the dog, Spike, who has escaped yet again. Vicky chronicles the good, the bad and the hilarious on her blog, .

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