I’m 40 today. To be honest, I’m in a bit of a funk about it. I’ve been joking for years that I was born to be 40, but now that it’s actually here it feels so… adult. I don’t know how to do anything yet! I can’t be halfway done when I’ve barely even started.
I remember waking up on the morning of my 30th with $12 in my bank account and nothing but tomato sauce and wine in the fridge. I was flatting, stone cold broke from blowing all my money travelling, perpetually single, and working a job I enjoyed but that frankly wasn’t going anywhere.
On paper, it’s been an absolute ride of a decade. Husband, business, two kids, house, move across the country, brain work, body work, work work. I’ve come such a long way. I’m really proud of myself, when I think about it. I made human people and birthed them out of my body! My business partner and I have kept our wee business supporting our families for almost 10 years! I found an exceptional human being and had the sense to lock him down and put a ring on it! I suffered the consequences of neglecting my body all through my teens and twenties and I did the work to heal it! I did all that! Well done, me!
I’m learning, as I get older, that real progress is slow and boring. I’ve spent literal decades making wild plans to upend everything and crashing after a day or a week. The changes that stick are the little ones, the small tweaks and half-measures that I can stick with because I enjoy them. I resolved to read 50 books in 2012 and I’ve kept it up ever since. I resolved to go for a walk every day one month in 2019 and I’ve kept that up ever since too. I went two full years without touching a single morsel of gluten or dairy. I still fail more than I succeed, but it’s nice to know I can do hard things when I really want to.
The elephant in my room is my own writing. I decided to be a novelist when I was 12 years old, and here I am at 40, still dabbling. I can call myself a writer – that’s what I get paid to do, after all. I’ve written articles and blogs and a million government websites and several partial (and one complete) novels that are chilling in a box in the closet.
I’ve come back to fiction this year, after almost 10 years away from it. I’m making slow progress, but it’s progress. I give it an hour or two most mornings, and I’m enjoying it, and maybe that’s what really matters anyway. Maybe I’ll be published at 45, or 55, or maybe I’ll never be published, and writing fiction will just be the hobby I tinker with while I have my morning coffee.
And maybe that will be okay.
Maybe that will be more than okay, as part of this incredible life I’ve built with my family where I can swim in the sea and take the time to write and go for walks every day and play with my hilarious, infuritating children and obsess about curtains in my really very freaking nice house that’s more than I honestly ever dreamed of having.
This morning I woke up 40, and there’s enough money in my account to pay our mortgage, and enough food in our fridge to feed our family, and an amazing family to feed. It’s all more than I ever dreamed of having. I’m very lucky, and very thankful, and apparently also very middle-aged.