Thursday, April 14, 2016

In which I flip the double bird during a business meeting.

A few weeks ago, I was catching up with one of my dearest friends from college. She's a TV producer, and talked about how the business has changed in the 20 years since we've been out of school.

"It's all young go-getters and they're out for blood," she said. "I used to be driven, but now? Well, now, I don't care. I just don't care. I want to do my job. I'm not out to set the world on fire or impress my boss. I just don't care."

She looked at me sheepishly and then was somewhat surprised when I slapped my hands on the table and yelled, "Me, neither!" in the middle of a packed restaurant.

I care, but I don't care. I don't care about impressing people or being the first or best or whateverest. I want to do good work. But it doesn't have that very personal, very life-or-death feel that it used to. It just ... doesn't matter.

I believe this is the mythical "everything changes once you're 40" mellowness that people whisper about. It's like the next step beyond when I realized in my 20s that nobody cares what my hair looks like, even though 13-year-old me refused to go buy mulch with my mom until after I washed and dried my perm.


This 40-year-old freedom doesn't have a name, but I have given it a symbol. And that symbol isn't iconic music, or dance, or poetry. It's the double bird, because that pretty much embodies how I feel about most things. Also, it still feels like a minor act of rebellion. Flipping somebody off? Kind of amateur. But flipping somebody off with both hands? You really don't care. And folks best mind your awesomeness.

And so I was meeting a new woman in a business setting. And we got to talking, and she mentioned that she was turning 40 soon.

"Oh, you're gonna love it," I said. "I turned 40 not that long ago."

"It already feels different," she said. "More relaxed."

I nodded. "Yeah, now I pretty much just feel like this all the time."
And instead of being horrified or plastering a fake, get-this-weirdo-out-of-here smile on her face, my new friend relaxed just a tiny bit and exclaimed, "YES! That's it exactly!"

I don't know why turning 40 is supposed to be a bummer. I feel richer and fuller than ever. And classier. Obviously.


Becky said...

Not that I ever really cared that much about what other people thought, but even my husband was amazed at how I cared after I turned 40. I literally ran out of f***s as they say.

Anonymous said...

Wait until you hit 50. The double birds turn into, f*ck off! Hahaha. :D It's wonderful.

smalltownme said...

50 is even better.

Becky Brown said...

Y'all have me pumped to turn 50! Watch out!

Violet said...

I remember hearing Oprah say that she believes women come into their own during their 40s. I am 51 now and firmly believe she was right. I am so much more ME now than I was 10 years ago. A big part of that is the comfort of not caring what people think.

An apropos quote I saw just a few minutes ago: Does running out of fucks count as exercise?

Anonymous said...

I love my 40s. I remember Maggie from Northern Exposure giving this big speech about being in control and discovering fulfillment at that decade and I was only in my 20s when I heard it, but it made my expectations really high. They've been achieved. And that symbol? I kind of want to make that my screen saver now.

Becky Brown said...

Violet, that totally counts as exercise!

And Green Girl? Please use that as your screen saver. Please? :)

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

When I turned 40, my husband was deployed to Iraq for a year. It was a year of learning how strong I was, how capable and how tired. It was a decade of coming into my own self.
Now that I've turned 50, I am definitely more relaxed in my words and actions even if I am not quite as free with my fingers. Yes, 50 is even better! Age on with pride. :)

Dziesma said...

Yep, so true. No need to do something "fun" on Friday night because you feel that's expected -- instead you go to bed at 9.30, and are truly content.