I remember the first few months of my divorce; I would look at myself in the mirror and feel like there was a huge weight on my shoulders. I would also look at myself and feel like I was a different person. I still looked like myself but I felt like I was wounded and I didn’t know how to heel the injury. Fast forward to present day. I have really been focusing on my friendships and my family. I went out with one of my close girlfriends last weekend. She is 42 and newly engaged. We have been close friends for the last 10 years. We have gone through the ups and downs of dating and as her close friend it is so great to see her excitement during this time of her life. As we sat down having cocktails overlooking the ocean at the Loew’s Hotel in Santa Monica she was reminiscing over the last decade.
Girlfriend: I tell you, life is so interesting. You really have to enjoy your life and live in the moment.
Me: That has been a recurring theme lately.
Girlfriend: Trust me, I understand. I met my honey later in life. But if I had met him before I did neither one of us would have been ready. You see, the 20’s are for making the mistakes. The 30’s are for learning the lessons, and once you reach your 40’s you hit your stride. You’ve made the mistakes and learned the lessons. And you are at a point in your life where you say fuck it! I am who I am and it’s okay.
Ironically, this wasn’t the first time I had heard that saying. But perhaps it was the first time I was really paying attention to what she was saying. The very next day, I met up with another group of my girlfriends who happened to be in their early 40’s as well. We were celebrating my girlfriend’s 40th birthday. It was a beautiful day in Malibu. We sat outside at Gladstone’s eating Oysters and having some wine. We were all sharing our dating horror stories and just bonding. All of us at the table had gone through a divorce or some type of heartache at one point in our lives and had made it to the other side.
Me: What are some of the lessons you learned in your 30’s?
Girlfriend: Let me tell you something. You are young. You cannot settle! Lots of times we settle and we put up with a lot of shit that we shouldn’t. If something doesn’t seem right, keep it moving!
Me: How do I know if I am not being reasonable? In the past I have been accused of not giving guys a chance.
Girlfriend: Oh please, if it’s not right it’s not right. You know when shit doesn’t feel right. You can’t force stuff. I’m not telling you to be a raging bitch. But I don’t want you to be in something just because you don’t want to be alone. I don’t want you to put up with crap just because you think you can’t get better or you’re getting “old.” Chile’ please.
There seems to be a certain stride that women hit once they turn 40. I noticed it in a lot of my friends. First of all, they all look beautiful. There is an inner and outer beauty that radiates from within. There is a certain amount of confidence I notice in women in their 40’s as well. When I was going through my divorce my mother once told me, “You have earned your battle stripes.” I realized those times when I was looking at myself in the mirror I WAS looking at a different person. I no longer lived in this fantasy world. I had gone through the trenches of a bitter breakup and I made it. I realized I was becoming a true grown ass woman. You see, in my 20’s I saw things as either black or white. There was no in between. I was going to be married by the time I reached 30, it would last forever, I would have my 2.5 children, and a house with a white picket fence. By the time I reached my 30’s and was in a bad marriage, I still saw things as black and white, I was determined to make things work in spite of the fact I knew deep in my soul I was with the wrong person. I was willing to shrink who I was to fit into his small world in order to make him happy. But by the time I was going through the divorce that is when my black and white world was suddenly turning gray. And that’s when I realized as a 35 year old women I am in the midst of becoming the woman I was supposed to be. Without the experience I had I would have still been living in my black and white fantasy world.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that I have a lot of my close girlfriends who are in their 40’s. They are like big sisters to me and there is such a love that we share. And there is also authenticity. We don’t bullshit around; we say it like we mean it. Although I have sometime before I hit my 40’s (I ain’t trying to rush shit). I realized I was finally hitting my stride. I was in the middle of learning those lessons. I had already made the big mistakes and now was my time to learn from them. It’s amazing what happens when you decide to focus on you and not finding a relationship. I am hyper aware of a lot of things around me. I yearn for those perils of wisdom. I can’t lie, in the last few months I had those moments of feeling like, I’m getting older. If I don’t meet someone by the time I hit 40 the pickings are going to get slimmer. I live in LA; men will think I am too old. I want to have children one day. I need to hurry up and find someone before I hit 40!
That’s why it is important to surround yourself around positive people who have some damn sense! I was already beginning to do exactly what I was doing in my late 20’s and look where that got me. Now at 35 I had learned the lesson. When you let fear and worry dictate your actions you end up making major mistakes. I am finally learning to enjoy my “grey” time. Life isn’t just black and white. When you mix the two colors together you become a fully authentic woman. When you earn your battle strips you learn what roads lead you to another war. When you begin to embrace who you are at any age life becomes worth living it to the fullest.