I think I’m officially middle-aged today.
Which is a weird thing to type, because I sure as hell don’t feel middle-aged. And of course in our youth-obsessed culture, we find all kinds of ways to reassure people that it’s fine, they’re not old yet, because being old is assumed to be a terrible thing we all want to put off as long as possible. We also have lost anything resembling coherent transitions between stages of life. Our childhoods are absurdly extended — and when do they even end? Are you an adult at puberty? Eighteen? Twenty-one? Graduation from high school? Graduation from college? People in their mid-twenties often don’t really feel like “adults” yet. So when the heck do you count as “middle-aged”?
I think I probably am; I just need to wrap my brain around it. I’m forty. To somebody who’s eighty, sure, I’m a “young person,” but not in general. I’m about halfway through my statistical life expectancy, which is pretty much the definition of “middle.”
Right now I don’t particularly anticipate having a mid-life crisis, because I’m lucky enough to have a job, a husband, and a home I love. But there may be a little bit of an identity crisis as I try to redefine my sense of where I fit into the general shape of society. Obviously 40 is an arbitrary threshold for that, but any number would be arbitrary, and the whole point of a threshold is to clearly signal that you have left where you were before and entered somewhere else. Thresholds have a purpose.
As does the rest of this post. Years ago — seventeen of them, I believe — I was, for reasons I no longer recall, having kind of a downer day on my birthday. The sort that led me to think (in full awareness of how people might smack me for it) “I’m twenty-three today. What do I have to show for it?” In order to stave off that gloom, I sat down and wrote up an egotism post, listing off everything cool I’d ever done, all my accomplishments, with a strict rule that I wasn’t allowed to downplay or “yes, but” any of them. I continued that tradition sporadically over subsequent years, though I just checked and apparently I haven’t done this since 2016.
Level 40 seems like a good time to revisit that, especially given how much of 2020 seems determined to get me down. In its original form, even: not just what I’ve done since the previous post, but the whole shebang. So buckle in, y’all — and remember, the point of this is egotism. If you don’t want to see me patting myself on the back for my life, don’t read onward, because this is a modesty-free zone.