Lately, I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles about being in one’s 40’s. I have two reactions when I read them: 1) I chuckle and think “Oh, that’s cute” and 2) I wonder if I sounded the same way when I was in my 40’s. I’m afraid the answer to that is yes, I did.
I’m not sure where the obsession with this particular decade of life comes from. Maybe it’s because 40 is considered a big milestone, although I’m not sure why. It’s not like 16 or 18 or 21, those are milestones; something actually happens at those ages. Turning 40, though? It’s all in your head. Being 40 doesn’t bring any benefits or hindrances. Not concrete ones, anyway. What happened to me as a result of reaching my 40’s? Not a lot, really. Certainly nothing that I can that put my finger on today. Which says a lot, when you get down to it. So, as someone who’s been there and done that (I’m 52), I want to tell you 40-somethings…something: You’re thinking too much.
Don’t get me wrong, thinking is not a bad thing. Even thinking about being in your 40’s isn’t a bad thing. You’ve got to process where you are and where you’re going and you can’t do that without a little thinking. But, remember, a cigar is sometimes just a cigar.
Most of you are Gen Xer’s and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Oh great, another fucking boomer telling us what to think”. You’re right, I am a boomer, but I’m a part of Baby Boom cohort number 2 (I’m not kidding, this is a real thing), which means I have more in common with Generation X than I do the entitled whiners and grouchy-ass old people everyone thinks of when you say “Boomer”. Because of that, I feel your pain and, truly, I’m not telling what to think. I’m just trying to help you gain a little perspective.
It’s not your fault, you know. You’ve bought into the idea that everything has deep meaning. As ideas go, that’s about as stupid as “everything happens for a reason” and the belief that you’re not a success unless you’re working at your dream job. I suppose my generation is responsible, since we’re the ones who came up with that bullshit. It certainly wasn’t our parents; they were to busy surviving the Great Depression and helping to whip the dreaded Hun. No, it was the Baby Boomers (a group that’s always had way too much time on their hands) who came up with this tripe. When you get right down to it, your 40’s aren’t all that different from your 30’s, with the possible exceptions of being a little more affluent and dealing with teenagers. Unfortunately, the latter pretty much offsets the former.
Look, I’m not saying that reaching your 40’s doesn’t matter. It does, if only because most of you guys are pretty cool people and I like having you around. But, you’ve gotta understand that, for those of us who are past this stage in life, making a big deal about being 40 is kind of a joke. Because there’s one thing you’ll learn when as you get a little older: 40 is just a number. And, not a particularly important one, at that.