Turning 40 this year? As people said back in the '90s, "take a chill pill." The grass actually is greener on the other side of the proverbial hill. Below are the 40 best things that happen once you leave age 39 behind.
Coming of Age in the Best Era Ever
1. Denying profusely that you owned every single New Kids on the Block song on cassette. But secretly jammin' to "The Right Stuff" when you need a NKOTB hit.
2. Not wearing a seatbelt as a child. Wearing a mullet, Hypercolor t-shirt, and MC Hammer pants as a teen. Braving dial-up Internet and Y2K as a young adult. Living to tell the tale.
3. Seeing your childhood favorites like Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles again on the big screen. Whether or not they were box office hits.
4. Scoffing at how kids these days are glued to tablets. When you were glued to Nintendo, at least you were learning real-life skills like duck hunting and leaping over mushrooms.
5. Realizing the importance of focusing on the person in front of you during a conversation and not just watching a TV screen or your phone during meals anymore.
6. Your dream to marry or to be Jason Priestley or Luke Perry may not have panned out (yet,) but your 90210 posters are alive and well, stored in a sacred place in your closet. And heart.
7. Feeling smug that the DIY movement validates your inner MacGyver. "It's a little recipe I use in emergencies," you whisper to yourself as you build your latest project.
Navigating Relationships Better
8. Letting go of your parents' mistakes and becoming friends with them. Yep, you, too, know how hard parenting is. (And getting free babysitting from them doesn't hurt, either.)
9. Spending time with your kids, nieces, and nephews while they play on the Xbox. Patiently waiting your turn, like a mature adult.
10. The young people in your life are generally cuter and more huggable than Cabbage Patch Kids. Thank goodness.
11. Standing tall and proud on the fulcrum between raising kids and caring for parents. Balancing like Mary Lou Retton!
12. Dancing the "Truffle Shuffle" for the kids. They might think you're "Goonie," but this needs to be passed on for posterity.
13. Fostering friendships, equally online and off. The older folks are mostly "in person," the younger, mostly online.
14. Appreciating your romantic relationship(s) instead of obsessing over them. Or, discovering that being single at 40 means you're sexy and available, not a "loser."
15. Your current friends don't know about the old, unhip person you once were. Or they've proven their worth by baring with you as you've turned into the graceful 40-year-old you are today.
Improving Your Brain
16. Shrugging off mistakes and embarrassments instead of beating yourself up when the bumbling dufus you once were comes up for air.
17. Hey, if aging accelerates at 40, personal growth goes into hyperspace. Hint: High Emotional Quotient, "EQ," is way more attractive than a mere pretty face.
18. The worst years are behind you. Okay, you can't really know that, but you've accumulated enough wisdom in the last 40 years to face anything.
19. Judging people based on their character and less on their status and looks. Except John Stamos. It's okay to judge him on status and looks.
20. Not envying millennials. You can patronize them and get away with it. Because you're 40.
21. Having enough perspective to see how it's not as important to win an argument as it is to resolve a conflict. Most times.
Staying Fit and Looking Fine
22. Once upon a time, you exercised to compensate for a night of junk food binging and partying. Now you exercise because it feels great. Your body is a temple.
23. If exercising isn't "working out" for you (pardon the pun,) go ahead and embrace your sexy "fertility goddess figure" or "dad-bod." Body acceptance is gaining momentum as a movement these days.
24. If going gray or bald is freaking you out, give yourself an approving nod in the mirror. You look stunning. You look distinguished.
25. Laugh lines and crow's feet are charming. At 40, they're fitting. They say, "experienced and happy."
26. It becomes mysteriously easier to hit 'ignore' on everyone else's cloying needs. You'll take care of yourself, get away, breathe, and savor a green smoothie.
Climbing the Corporate Ladder
27. Citing at least one super impressive item on your resume. Maybe even two.
28. There was a time when you had to act like you know. Now you actually know.
29. Well, if you don't know, you're secure enough to admit it. Or you Google it really fast on the sly. And then you don't just act like you know. You still actually know.
30. Being savvier about office politics. You don't have to be Machiavelli, but you know how to watch your back. Not to mention being genuinely skilled at what you do.
31. Realizing you've been put on this planet for a purpose. You've deduced that life isn't just about working during the week so you can party on the weekends.
32. Now that you've almost paid off your student loans, you can take out another loan, go back to school, and change careers. A lot of Gen Xers did it. Now, it's your turn.
33. You used to strive and strain to get in the door and climb the corporate ladder. Now you realize that if something doesn't pan out, a better door will open.
34. Knowing by experience that repeated failure is a prerequisite for success, and age 40 is a great time for the tables to turn.
Being Eligible for Age-Related Perks
35. Only 15 more years until you're ushered into the senior discount heaven. Woot!
36. Mid-life crisis? More like mid-life huge opportunity to exchange all your superficial ideals for a solid foundation of truly important values.
37. Pulling the "age card" when you need to... And basking in getting carded at the grocery store. And exclaiming to the cashier, "Aw, you thought I was 19, didn't you!"
38. Times being what they are, you can dress like a 20-something or a 60-something without getting judged. Except by 20-somethings and 60-somethings, of course.
39. People tell you that you look 10 years younger than you are. If not, they tell you that you act 10 years younger than you are. Either way, take it as a compliment!
40. And, by the way, 40 is the new 20. No, 40-year-olds did not just make that up to make themselves feel better.
Totally Rad Times Ahead
Have the time of your life, 40-year-old! It's all downhill from here, in a good way. Grab your skateboard and go for it!