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Free to Be Forty

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

By Emmy Serviss / Boston

Unlike my 13th birthday, my 40th birthday will not require slime
Unlike my 13th birthday, my 40th birthday will not require slime

As I write these words, I have one week left until I turn 40 and join my new rank as "middle aged." I don't feel as apprehensive about turning 40, as I did when I turned 30. Instead of feeling old and depressed and lamenting the end of my youth, I find myself just feeling that the whole thing is so WEIRD. I was born August 4th, 1982, so I am most definitely 40 years old. But aside from occasional agita and lower back pain, I don't feel 40.

This chubby toddler is about to be a chubby 40-year-old
This chubby toddler is about to be a chubby 40-year-old

I remember when my mom turned 40, and we threw her a surprise party back at our house on Long Island. I remember my parents' friends attending with their families, and I remember thinking that 40 was so old. My parents and their friends all had grown-up jobs and owned a house and had two or three kids and seemed like they had everything together. Maybe it's just me, but adults back then just felt...adultier.

The adults in the ’70s seemed so much wiser!
The adults in the ’70s seemed so much wiser!

As I approach the 40th yard line, I'm currently single, have no children and I still rent my apartment. I do have a grown-up job, but I don't feel like the adult that my parents seemed to be at my age. It makes me wonder if I'm really behind on the so-called milestones of adulthood, or if my parents also didn't have a clue what they were doing, and us kids just assumed they did.

And now it makes me wonder if my friends' kids think that I have all MY shit together.

Which is hilarious.

I have no idea what I’m doing
I have no idea what I’m doing

Whilst I often feel like three kids in a trench coat who is passing as a "grown-up," I do acknowledge that a lot has changed since my parents turned 40, and my generation isn't playing by the same set of rules. So instead of focusing on all the ways I feel like I'm behind in life...

Here are 40 things that I'm embracing for my 40th birthday.

  • 1. Not owning a home means I don’t have to kowtow to an HOA!

  • 2. I can afford to take myself out to a fancy sushi dinner, just because

  • 3. I can also decide to eat a bag of Cheetos for dinner, just because

  • 4. No one will ask me to go clubbing

  • 5. In fact, my evenings can now end at 10 p.m., instead of starting at 10 p.m

  • 6. Yes, I DO have a bottle of Tums in my purse

  • 7. Cats are WAY cheaper than children

  • 8. I can refer to myself as “vintage”

  • 9. Other people’s opinions don’t seem as important as they once did

  • 10. Nothing lasts forever, good or bad

  • 11. I am stronger than I give myself credit for

  • 12. Don’t be afraid to be silly!

  • 13. It’s never too late to start something new

  • 14. Sometimes people outgrow friendships, and that’s okay

  • 15. Drink water

  • 16. I don’t have to pretend to care about what’s in fashion

  • 17. As a woman, I now find it easier for me to take up space in the world

  • 18. But as a woman, it’s time to get my first mammogram! Wheeee!

  • 19. My gut instincts are almost always correct

  • 20. It’s really fun to see how surprised people get when I tell them my age

A new birthday will require a new over-the-top outfit
A new birthday will require a new over-the-top outfit

  • 22. I know that there are some things I’ll never get to do, and that’s okay

  • 23. I can choose what to spend my money on without feeling guilt

  • 24. You can buy that Prada bag, but I’d rather treat myself to a ticket for Into the Woods

  • 25. Alcohol doesn’t feel nearly as important as it did in my 20s and 30s

  • 26. Neither do high heels

  • 27. I still don’t have any gray hairs, but the idea of going gray doesn’t bother me

  • 28. Less time wasted having to dig my ID out of my wallet when I go to a bar

  • 29. Driving at night without my glasses is no longer an option

  • 30. I know that I have valuable skills and advice to offer to those around me

  • 31. But I also know that doesn’t mean those around me want to hear it, and that’s okay

  • 32. I have absolutely no idea what the “the kids” are into these days, and I don’t care!

  • 33. At this point in my life I know what I like and what I don’t, and I no longer care to settle

  • 34. I don’t need to waste my time on anything or anyone who doesn’t deserve it

  • 35. Yes, I WILL listen to Lite FM radio in the car, thank you

  • 36. Additionally, I will order a Shirley Temple at the bar and feel absolutely no shame

  • 37. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is way easier

  • 38. I no longer feel the need to have all the answers right away

  • 39. I have fully abandoned the need to be anyone other than me

  • 40. And I’m excited for my next decade of adventures

So while I may no longer be Thirty, Flirty and Thriving, I am ready to be Older and Bolder with Life Experience on My Shoulder. Okay, maybe that's not quite as catchy, but you get the idea.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go order a birthday cake and then pop an Advil because apparently my knees hurt all the time now.


Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me!

Emmy Serviss is a Boston-based writer, actor and video editor. Once it is safe to return to live theater, you can find her performing with ComedySportz Boston and the sketch group SUZZY. When not on the stage, Emmy enjoys indulging in her new pandemic hobbies, laughing way too loudly and counting the days until Halloween.

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