W.B. Pitkin once said that life begins at 40. I'm having a hard time buying that one.
Though my birthday may not be this month, it is creeping closer and closer. Four flipping months away. Just four. Hell, I remember when I WAS just four. When did this age thing happen?
Just to clear up any confusion, it has absolutely nothing to do with the whole aging process. Outside of not getting enough exercise and needing to drops some pounds, I'm actually very healthy these days. I take really good care of my skin, I don't drink anymore, I never smoked- basically, I am well preserved. I look much younger than some of my friends, and hey - I'm cool with that. ;-)
No, my problem goes a bit deeper. It's the whole fallacy of accomplishment.
What in the hell does that mean, anyway?
I guess at forty, I'm stuck with knowing whether or not I am ever going to be super successful. For the past twenty years, I have been working hard to prove myself in my career. I went to college like I promised myself I would. I decided whether or not I wanted to be married and whether or not I wanted children. I decided how and when I would move out of my hometown, and whether or not I wanted to climb some imaginary corporate ladder. I did all of those things myself. I was in control of that. (With God's blessing.)
But if I died tomorrow, what would people remember?
I never made the 30 under 30 list, nor did I even scrape by and get a 40 under 40. Well.. I do have four more months. ;-) Instead I can claim about 6 awards to my name in my entire 39ish years: Bible Bowl participation trophy in the 7th grade (seriously.. just a thank-you-for-participating;) a Best Witness for Mock Trial competition in High School; an honorable mention for the Special Politics Committee for representing Israel in the regional Model United Nations in High School; an Associated Press award for Best Public Affairs Reporting for producing a documentary called, "Faces of Freedom;" and a Georgia Association of Broadcaster's Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. Pretty small potatoes, wouldn't you think?
Maybe that's why I used to hang my little "Certificate of Completion" awards on my office wall after workshops. I just wanted some form of validation that I did accomplish something. Heck, I used to hang my Bachelor's degree proudly at my jobs, until I found myself in the world of academia and historical experts. My little Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism pales in comparison to a doctorate degree. Yet, it was a massive accomplishment for me.
You know... things could have been soooo different.
When I go through my legal papers, I always cringe when I pick up my divorce papers from my previous marriage. I was only with him for 6 years, but it seems like a lifetime ago, and hangs over my head like one of my little failures. When my past was suffocating my current relationship, I was ready to hang my head in shame and be that 40-year-old that I did not want to be. Alone, 40... and probably with only my laptop to keep me warm at night. Thank God divine intervention took place and reconciliation is the name of the day.
I don't have kids with crowning achievements. Hell, I don't even own a house, nor have I ever. I did get to see a little bit of the world (the birthplace of civilization at that!) but is it ever enough? I've been places, I've seen things, I've met famous people. I've spent money like there is no tomorrow and I have pinched pennies like there will be too many tomorrows.
40 is shaping up to concern me.
I have four months to contemplate not just another decade, but my youth. It's the official end of youth. 30s may seem old if you are in your 20s, but soon you'll see it is not. I'm heading in the other direction and I am just not sure what I think about it.
I have to leave a legacy of some kind - what will my story be?