A letter to my thirties on my 40th birthday

N Kendall

Farewell, my dear Thirties.

A busy decade indeed.

You found me hunkered down with little more than the rotten fruits of my own poor judgment. You granted me permission to start fresh—make a clean break from my twenties—and start climbing. You saw me finish my bachelor’s degree, meet and marry my husband, move across the country, buy a house, find our tribe, welcome two precious sons, and dive into an array of meaningful work and service.

THANK YOU, dear Thirties, for hosting my ten-year ascent, from rock bottom all the way up and “Over the Hill.”

Well, hellllloooo Forty, you rascal!

You were on the calendar, and yet caught me off guard, somehow. Maybe because you’re not at all what I expected. Am I supposed to feel past my prime? This actually feels more like perfect ripeness. I’m not talking about physical appearance or agility, of course. Those things have taken their rightful place of low priority within a more mature, holistic perspective.

I no longer see myself as the centre of anything; my life is a mere blip of human consciousness, which, as described by Carl Sagan, “… appear[s] on the cosmic calendar so recently that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.”

If the history of earth were condensed into one year, humankind would begin existing during the New Year’s Eve countdown. So it’s hard to even comprehend how invisibly brief one individual human lifetime is.

I’m just one among this new and fleeting species, on a tiny, temporary planet that practically disappears into the vastness of the universe. Yes, there’s a thread of loneliness in that realization, but also a spark of inspiration. If failure and judgment are meaningless, then I’m free to leap fearlessly in every direction. It’s actually embarrassing that I used to think my dress size mattered.

Even today—the very first of 3,650 days—my forties feel like an arrival; a deep, intrinsic awareness that the climb is over. I hereby dismiss my perpetual next-milestone focus. It’s time to lift my gaze, take my feet off the pedals, and inhale the newly panoramic view ahead.

Sweet Forty, you’ve already delivered a final acceptance of Self—body and soul—tenderized by motherhood. On behalf of my future grandchildren, please inspire healthy, life-extending habits. May the corners of my eyes continue recording the love behind a hundred smiles a day. And please bring me some grey hair, so I can wear it like a boss.