On the eve of Thanksgiving and her 40th birthday, Gabrielle Porcaro gets grateful. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” she recounts the ways she’s gotten okay with getting older…even during the most tumultuous year she’s ever lived through.
The year leading up to a milestone birthday is supposed to be contemplative. Add in a global pandemic and contentious election, and the minutes spent being introspective are innumerable.
At the risk of stating the obvious, I’m not exactly spending my 39th year how I planned.
I have decided that the concept of 40 is scarier than the actual age. While I’m not sure how you’re supposed to feel, minus some muscle aches I don’t feel all that much different than I did at 25. People make surprised faces when I tell them how old I am, proving I don’t look the part, either.
What I do know is that I have never been more in-tune with or secure in myself than I am now, which began way before the hours of self-confinement and puzzling (existentially and literally).
I’m thankful for being where I am and wouldn’t trade a thing to turn back time. Here’s why:
I’m more hopeful.
The past year has been an absolute rollercoaster, both in a personal and universal sense. My generally upbeat attitude has been put to the test over and over and over again. Yet I always go in search of a silver lining; as it turns out, it’s always there! I’ve found it’s best to keep hope alive, whether it comes to finding a new job or waiting for election results.
I’m finding acceptance.
In my 30s, I learned to trust where my life was going. I would not have thought that, at 39, I would be unmarried, living in a studio apartment, working as a freelancer. Younger me probably also would not have guessed that I would be lucky enough to travel regularly (until this year, anyway), be able to pay for that New York City apartment all by myself or would own so many pretty pairs of shoes (which, sadly, are not being worn). You have to come to terms with where your life is, or you have to do something to change it.
I’m trying to break out of my comfort zone.
Yes, one’s current situation is cozy and warm and familiar, and leaving it is cold and exhausting. I know; I’ve been there. But challenging myself has proven rewarding…even when it hasn’t worked out. Try something new, introduce yourself to someone, say yes to a date. You never know.
I feel body-confident.
While I never faced major body issues, we all have parts of ourselves we wish could look different. With age, I have gotten to the point that as long as I am healthy, I’ve won. We only get one body, so I have chosen to love mine. My wish is for all women to join me here. (Plus, I figure I still have 10 years to get my body looking like Jennifer Aniston’s or JLo’s.)
I care less about what others think of me.
While I am not completely cured of this, I have seen in small ways that I haven’t let my inner doubts hold me back. Last Christmas, I had the idea of mailing out a photo card with pictures of single ol’ me. I sat on the thought for a bit since I was worried that people would find it self-centered, but then I thought, why not? The result was extremely supportive. This year, I may even do a collage of me in various face masks.
Last year, I took a new workout class. I felt out of my element, the newbie among the regulars. The instructor told me to let go, close my eyes, and not overthink it. I did just that and realized I was standing there, shaking my hips, eyes shut, without a thought or a care about anyone else in the room. Of course, half the confidence to be able to hop around was made possible by a supportive sports bra, but I never would have been so carefree in my 20s or even my early 30s. I only wish I had gotten this comfortable sooner.
I’m more present.
This is something I have been really focused on lately. Like many people, I have been extra addicted to my phone and TV this year. Once I started seeing fewer and fewer people during my days, I consciously made sure that when I was in the company of others, I was 100 percent there, not checking Twitter or texting someone else. It’s not easy, but I feel like my relationships have grown from making that deliberate decision.
I show up for those who show up for me.
What’s more is that I have stopped showing up for those who don’t. Knowing who makes up your support system is something you can see more clearly as time passes. Mine consists of my family, friends from school, and some of the jobs I’ve had throughout the years. Surround yourself with people who uplift you, understand you, celebrate you. Stop wasting your time on anything less.
I always remember women who seemed far older than me telling me that life gets better with age, and now I can see they were right. Now I am one of those women. I’m thankful for all my years, even rough ones like 2020. Who knew I would be so excited for 40 to get here?