I may die in the next year. But probably not. The odds are good that in about 18 more months, I will turn 40.
I have some cause for optimism. I am married, sober, and gainfully employed, at least for the moment. I have gotten most of the rank stupidity out of my system and purged much of the BS from my psyche. But I may as well prepare myself for the worst.
Here are 40 things that horrify me about turning 40.
1. When I walk into H&M, everyone in the store hopes I don’t buy anything.
2. I will stop celebrating my birthdays and start getting annual prostate exams.
3. I can no longer pass off my fashion choices as ironic.
4. I have not started saving for retirement, and I am already exhausted.
5. My mental and physical deterioration has begun in earnest. I have to squint to read street signs, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m losing my vision or because I’m forgetting how to read.
6. I will continue to get unhip at an exponential rate. When I make pop culture references now, people cringe. In a few years, they will scratch their heads.
7. I don’t drink, so I don’t have to worry about being the creepy old guy at the bar. Instead, I get to be the creepy old guy everywhere else.
8. My earning potential will peak at 40. To hit my goal, I need to ask for a raise of $10 billion.
9. Silicon Valley needs to hurry up and unlock the secret to immortality before the economy crashes again.
10. My diet is starting to affect my appearance, my health, and my attitude. I can’t eat Little Caesar’s Hot ‘n’ Ready unless I am already too depressed to care about anything.
11. I used to think, “I can start tomorrow. I have plenty of time.” I no longer have plenty of time. And tomorrow is blocked off for a doctor’s appointment.
12. I am still too broke, lazy, and selfish to have kids. At least my cats won’t write books about what an asshole I am.
13. When I feel bad on the inside, I’ll look worse on the outside.
14. My only chance of making it in sports, entertainment, or porn would be as a novelty act.
15. It takes a lot more effort to make new friends, and I get tired from chatting with Uber drivers.
16. I haven’t had a mid-life crisis yet. There’s still a chance I will quit my job, leave the country, start drinking again, spike my hair, hit on college students, and make a complete fool of myself.
17. I can only “fake it to make it” for so much longer before people will expect me to make it.
18. I used to believe I was destined for greatness, or that everything would at least work out for the best, or that the universe would provide. At this point, I’d settle for a reasonable APR.
19. As a straight white dude, I thought I was set for life. Then I discovered age discrimination.
20. When I watch movies about teenagers, I root for their parents.
21. I have collected enough traumas and permanent scars that I no longer take dumb risks for the hell of it. Some things really do go on your permanent record.
22. New music is both too noisy and not as gangsta as the old stuff.
23. I recently ate beets, on purpose. And I enjoyed them.
24. I wake up every day at 5:00 a.m., and I never feel refreshed. I fall asleep at 9:00 p.m. and dream about work.
25. Peer pressure used to mean getting high. Now it means locking myself into long-term debt, which is dumber, but is somehow the adult thing to do.
26. When I see people in their 80s, I realize they’re probably still trying to get their shit together.
27. Every time I get sick, I wonder if I’m going to stay that way.
28. If I try any new social media platform, it will be me, a bunch of teenagers, and Gary Vaynerchuk.
29. My younger brother has a daughter, a mortgage, and a graduate degree. He is no longer impressed that I have funnier insults.
30. I will never know what I could have accomplished had I spent my youth studying nuclear physics instead of Victoria’s Secret catalogs.
31. Viagra is no longer a recreational drug.
32. Virtual Reality is the new Hollywood, except the old Hollywood didn’t make me vomit on my hoodies. (At least, not consistently.)
33. I used to grow out my hair. Now I vacuum it up.
34. When my mom said that my anxiety, depression, and acne would clear up, she was incorrect.
35. My travel options are restricted by my need to sleep in beds.
36. I’m starting to resemble my parents. I don’t have their financial stability, but I am a cheap, paranoid little man who swears at motorists.
37. My 30-year-old self would be disappointed in me for not having gotten more out of life. My 50-year-old self will be annoyed with me for whining and worrying so much. I will seem like a loser coming and going.
38. I am much more thoughtful. A lot of friends are no longer around to appreciate it.
39. My hearing is shot, except when I am ready to file noise complaints against my neighbors.
40. I am going to die. And when it happens, no one will say, “he had his whole life ahead of him.”
The Truth About Turning 40
It’s convenient to measure our lives in seasons, years, and decades, but they rarely conform to such a tidy narrative structure.
You don’t get peace, wisdom, or a sense of accomplishment by sitting around and running down the clock. But if you stay open to a range of experiences, you can put the frustrations of youth in perspective. As long as you can maintain a healthy appreciation for the absurd, there’s always more to do and enjoy, no matter how old you are or what emergency medical procedures you require.