I started writing this blog post 2 days before my….***drum roll please***…my 40th birthday and let me tell you, I’m embracing it pretty well if I do say so myself. For many people, it’s one of those pinnacle birthdays. At 40, you’re definitely not “young,” but you’re not “old” either. You’re “young” enough to still take some risks physically (think running a marathon, climbing a mountain or bodybuilding) but “old” enough to where your body is definitely going to check you real quick if you step out of line on that risk taking (think easily pulled muscles that you didn’t even know you could pull). “Young” enough to be seen as the cool professor (thank you to all my students who’ve told me that) but “old” enough to pass on some wisdom and life lessons to those willing to accept it. Truthfully, 40 is a much-welcomed age for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love birthday cards, presents, and cake as much as the next person but I also love spending time reflecting on my birthdays…even more so the older I get. So, a few weeks ago, I started looking online at things you should do by your 40th birthday—hoping to get some positive inspiration on maybe some new goals to set. Several lists consisted of—well let’s just say nothing on MY bucket list. “Climb Mt. Everest—backpack through the jungle—skydive, bungee jump, or go base jumping.” NOT really what I had in mind! I quickly realized I was on my own coming up with my own inspiration.
All of this caused me to think about the movies, tv shows, and I’m sure there’s probably some songs out there that seem to focus on people not being where they want to be at a certain point in life (often times this is by the age of…you guessed it….40). I love the classic Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode where Aunt Viv #1 (some of y’all older people know who I’m talking about J) celebrated her 40th birthday and with the help of her kids and nephew making her feel old, she decided to take a hard look at her life and pursue the thing she felt that she gave up on…the thing she was passionate about—dancing. Comically, she quickly finds out she’s not as in shape or “rehearsed” as she thought. In perfect sitcom fashion and by the end of the episode, she proves it’s never too late to succeed in your dreams and goals (but boy did she kill that dance routine! 🙂 ) .
So many of us often struggle with getting older (especially with these pinnacle birthdays) and often say the same thing. “I thought I would be further along in life,” or “I wish I had done (fill in the blank)” or “I’m not happy with where I am.” All of these are very valid statements, but can you hear the self-defeating tone in all of these?
As I turn 40, yes, I can easily say my life is not where I thought it would be, but in many ways, that’s not a bad thing and in SO many ways, there’s a blessing in that. Are there things that I wish I had done? About 5 or 6 years ago, I may have said yes. But I’ve learned if there’s something I want to do, there’s no one stopping me but me. Have I had days where I felt like I wasn’t happy with where I am? Of course! But 40 has taught me that happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy with where I am for a few simple reasons.
One, I’ve surrendered my life completely over to God, so I know He’s leading me to where He wants me to be. You can never go wrong with this. And two, He’s blessed me far too much for me to not show my appreciation by being unhappy, negative, and ungrateful. Birthdays, yes, should be a time of reflection, but that reflection should be positive in tone and in nature. Remember…it’s a time of celebrating you!
Life is about making improvements and growing as a person. Instead of reflecting on where I’m not, I want to take this pinnacle birthday, change the tone, and positively reflect on where I’m headed. The question I want to reflect on is, “Did I grow to be a better version of myself more than my 39-year-old self?” I’d like to think I have. I strive to live a life of influence, empathy, and love. A life that demonstrates the love of God and also a life of purpose. If you’re blessed to celebrate another birthday, I encourage you to make the next year better than the last. Be a little bit kinder. Be a little bit more loving. Smile a little bit more. Laugh a little bit louder. (These are all things YOU have control over.) This is the absolute best birthday gift you can give to yourself (and you won’t even have to worry about pulling those muscles you didn’t even know you had! 🙂 )
“The Lord bless you and keep you.” (Numbers 6:24) (Fun fact about this scripture….my birthday is…6/24)