It’s Unavoidable, and When I Look Around I Want to Scream

It’s happening, and I can’t hide from it.  I am turning 40, next year.  I haven’t solved world peace, won a Pulitzer, a Nobel Peace Prize, an Olympic gold medal (ok that “one” was a long shot…). Nevertheless, 40 is coming at me fast.  That’s why, when I saw an article aimed at this precise existential crisis, I had to click it and read. I mean, generally it’s all fortune cookie wisdom, but you never know.  I still click on weight loss articles. I figure 8 of the 10 tips, I will have heard. One will be a new fad, and absurd, but one might be new to me, and have some merit.  I’m all about learning new things, or new ways to see old things.

This is the article I stumbled upon: 11 Things You Should Stop Doing When You Hit 40

Immediately, the tips were bothering me, rather than sounding applicable. First off, apologizing constantly, dressing for others vs you, obsessing over your phone.  These are not just things to notice when you turn 40. They should be addressed the minute you realize that you’re doing them too much.  It’s good to acknowledge when you are wrong, but constantly saying you’re sorry can create an environment where you are painting yourself as a mess, and that’s not a great way to present yourself.  The thing is, this isn’t something that is specific to turning 40. It’s good to notice this at any time in your life. I can handle all that, though.  It’s not a bad idea to remind people of these bad habits. It’s more to say, life is short, so don’t waste it living it for the approval of others.

Then there are some passages on kids, and you knowing what’s best.  One issue I have with all of this, is the assumption that all women have kids. The way it is presented, there is no alternate moral or lesson for women who choose not to have kids; or for those who sadly cannot. The article doesn’t acknowledge, in any way, that not everyone has kids. What lesson should we take, or can we at least be acknowledged? It would be nice, unless this is going to be explicitly geared towards women, turning 40, who also have kids, that the article make note of that. Not acknowledging that, makes the entire article a judgment that normal people turning 40 have kids, and the rest in the back, just sit there and be quiet.

I do wish we could transcend to a level, where an article like this would be about universal truths. Not just for women or men, not just for people who also have kids, but for anyone turning 40.  We are entering a new stage in life, and let’s face it together. Men, women, parents, and non-parents alike.  I get that we aren’t totally alike, but aren’t there common challenges we face?  If not, can we have articles acknowledge in the headline, or lede, that the article is geared toward one specific demographic?  I get that pitching it as universal, may garner more clicks, but it will also turn people like me off, if we click on links like this.  If I keep checking out articles, from one outlet, and they are pitched one way, but totally ignore my truths, I will eventually stop relying on that outlet.

The one tip, that pissed me off enough to want to write this post, was this one passage:

Before 2016, I was barely on Twitter. I had an account, but I just didn’t get the point.  A friend of mine was on there, but she would live tweet shows she watches, like Big Brother.  I’m a cord cutter, so that doesn’t really appeal to me.  Then the dumpster fire of the 2016 election kicked into high gear. Suddenly I was clamoring to follow Joy Ann Reid, April Ryan, Wapo, NY Times, Guardian, etc. I wanted to keep up with the news, campaigns, legislation, and any news of Trump being impeached (God, I hope it’s soon). I wanted to follow my representatives, and see what they were up to.

According to this little tip, at the age of 40, I should stop being politically active on social media.  Now, my facebook is mainly just people I know.  I was senior class president, in high school, so I have a lot of former classmates. Other than that, I have family, friends, co-workers and a handful of college friends. I do share some political stuff, but not too often.  Some of friends and family are not political, and I don’t have a need to alienate them. I do my best to keep my political activity to Twitter, but I really don’t think anyone should stop debating politics or standing up for their personal beliefs, especially because they reached 40.  Talk about a horrible tip, at any age.

I consider it actual patriotism, to participate in the political process. Much more than hanging a flag outside my house. We should embrace campaigns and being connected to our elected representatives. We shouldn’t eye roll, like it’s a badge of honor to put up with campaign ads.  It’s a small price to pay, for freedom. I’ll stop being political, when I’m in the ground. As long as I’m alive, thanks for your advice, but I prefer to participate in our democracy, for as long as we’ve got it.  I dare say, that’s the best way for us to hold on to it, and to preserve it.  Never stop being politically active, or engaging in politics. It’s how our democracy was founded.  No taxation, without representation. Representation can only happen, if we engage with our representatives, tell them what we want, and vote them out if they don’t deliver.  In the technological age, that we are in, connecting with our reps is easier than ever.  We can use @Resistbot and @Countable and most reps have twitter accounts, as well as facebook pages.

Whether you are 15, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50 or 80, it’s always the time to speak up for what you believe in.  It’s always time for you to stand up for your personal believes.  Whether in a march, in the voting booth, and on social media. Please never follow advice that tells you to stop participating in democracy. It’s the only way we will get to keep it, and preserve it for the next generation; whether we have kids or not.

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