Affectionately called the BIG 4-0!
I have secretly been dreading my 40th birthday. We’ve talked a lot about turning 40 over the past couple of months in my house. The conversations primarily focused on “how are we going to celebrate this momentous occasion”, and less on moving into the next decade of our lives. It was fun to talk about the parties and exotic trips we would take, but deep down, I was really bothered about 40. Something about it carried a seriousness and a weight that kept making my stomach turn.
I was surprised at how upset I was about my impending birthday. I always had different things rattling around in my head, but getting older had never been on my playlist. This was virgin territory, and in all honesty I thought I had handled growing older like a champ. In previous years, I laughed (possibly even guffawed) when I realized that I had eased into the “Just for Men” demographic. I had even fist-bumped the fact that at somewhere along the way I had become empowered to use the phrase “mid-life crisis”.
Despite my previous acknowledgements, the gravity of 40 would surprisingly creep into my thoughts at any time during the day or night. As my birthday approached the thoughts became more persistent, never clearly defining the problem to be addressed, but always with a significance that would demand my attention.
My mind would race through a rolodex of issues that possibly needed to be addressed: from building a house, to my career, to the season 3 finale of House of Cards. I would think about unfulfilled dreams, and the fact that at this stage of my life I still didn’t know what the appropriate temperature was to wear a vest. But none of these issues would match up to the puzzle piece of a feeling I was trying to deal with, and so, as silly as it sounds the idea of turning 40 would continue to haunt me.
Then at midnight, on a completely random Tuesday (two days ago), I actually turned 40!
I was no longer dreading 40, because suddenly I was 40.
For the briefest of moments, as I took stock of my new age, I had totally clarity and could see that all the angst and anxiety had simply been demanding that I take an incredibly honest look at myself in the mirror. I thought about my amazing wife, my incredible kids, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. It was awesome!
A split second later though I saw the seriousness of 40, realizing that I needed to take responsibility of my regrets too, not just my blessings. This is what had been bothering me about 40. I knew that it was time for me to take ownership of my poor decisions and the times that I didn’t act the way I knew I should have. All things that I had tried to push down, and forget they even happened.
As I looked closely at all of my regrets, I realized that they all had one thing in common……FEAR.
At some point I had allowed fear to seep in and take over my decision making. It had allowed me to stay silent when I should have spoken up, allowed me to not take action when I should have done something. Allowed me to avoid the hard work, because well “why did it matter anyway”? Fear had given me a way out, and every single time I followed its advice I regretted it.
I started this blog 4 years ago simply because I enjoyed writing, but somewhere along the way I stopped making posts because of fear. I was scared that I would write something dumb, or would say something that would offend someone, or would maybe just run out of ideas. So before I got to that point I would let fear win and just stopped making posts. It was that simple.
I’ve written nearly every single day since my last post, mostly short stories and essays ranging from airport etiquette to the importance of fake mustaches. I’ve written and re-written my first screenplay and even submitted it to Sundance (where they very politely told me it was garbage), and am currently working on my first novel.
Writing is something that I absolutely love to do, but for whatever reason I was scared to keep sharing it. As I turn 40, I now see the absurdity of letting fear win. So I’ve decided now was the time to dust off the old blog, give it a fresh look, and a name that more aptly described what I write about…..stuff. I’m also thinking that 40 might turn out to be pretty incredible.
No matter what side of 40 you’re on I hope that you won’t make the same mistake I did and let fear control your decisions.