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Mary Ellen Slayter turned 40, last week. I’ve loved this woman for years. Almost a decade-ish. Look at this dated-as-hell video of the two of us.

Jesus. That’s painful to watch. When I’m nervous, I adopt a Chicago accent.

I planned on writing a tribute to Mary Ellen and telling her about what it’s like to turn 40, but the thing about turning 40 is you discover that deadlines are for millennials without any power.

So, yeah, since I’m 42 and make my own schedule, lemme share a few notes about turning 40 and hitting that significant milestone.

  1. Turning 40 is only a big deal to people who haven’t done it.
  2. You’re more interesting with some age.
  3. The things that really bother you are bugging you for a good reason. Trust that instinct.
  4. You become the feminist you thought you were in your 30s.
  5. Nobody is going to force you to change your mind, which makes your mind soften and open up to new possibilities.
  6. People are nicer at the grocery store. Use that to your advantage.
  7. Reading glasses are sexy AF.
  8. It’s finally okay to say new music sucks because it does.
  9. You gain some compassion for your enemies, which makes it interesting and sometimes complicated when you crush them.
  10. The family-of-origin drama drops off, the family-you-make drama ramps up. But it’s the drama you choose, not drama imposed.
  11. Retirement looks really good and tremendously expensive.
  12. Time is worth more than money.
  13. You love the people you love with your whole heart.
  14. You outgrow your old fears. The worst didn’t happen, or, if it did, you survived.
  15. Dammit, making a list is tough.
  16. Okay, I’m done.

You get my point. Turning 40 is remarkable. I’m not saying it’s not all sex, power, and money. But there’s a lot of that.

Because Mary Ellen is awesome, she probably deserves a better list than the one I just wrote. If you have any advice on hitting this milestone, let’s hear from you in the comments below.

And happy birthday, Mary Ellen. I’m lucky to have you in my life. You create community wherever you go, and the world needs you to live another forty years and a whole lot more.

One Response to Turning 40 is No Big Deal
  1. Gary Dumais

    A delightful article – thanks for writing it. I couldn’t help thinking as I read that there is research showing that people actually become happier with age. Some speculate that it’s because you get to know yourself more and become more comfortable with who you are. Some also say it’s because you’ve developed long-term relationships with people who “really” are your friends. It could also relate to having a more stable job or pension, or just more savings in the bank account. Either way, transitioning into your 40s and beyond has many upsides, as you noted.