Not as Bad as It Seems: Thoughts on Turning 40

turning 40This summer, I turned 40. There, I said it. I turned 40. I wasn’t the one who had a fab girls’ trip and embraced every second of the new decade. I was anti-celebration. Didn’t even want to talk about it. I entered 40 kicking and screaming. Dramatic, I know, but it took me a while to say it!

Let’s back up a year to last summer, the summer I turned 39. I found myself already dreading my next birthday. Two of my favorite friends were also turning 40 and I was the last one to “go.” Okay, you have a year girl… let’s do it — or so I thought. I wanted to be in the best shape of my life. I wanted to be in a good spot with my family and husband. I wanted to conquer my fears (mainly heights!). My 30s were GOOD. I mean, good. They gave me my babies, my true friends, and I found myself for who I truly am. I wanted to go out with a bang. What I really felt though, was fear. Fear that this decade wouldn’t match up, fear that I couldn’t achieve all of those lofty goals and just a fear of the unknown. And let’s be real, society makes 40 seem old. Mainly, I had no idea of WHY I was feeling the way I did.

So, on I went. I found a nutritionist and fitness program that I absolutely loved and I lost 21 lbs. I had never felt so good about myself physically. Check! Best shape of my life! Guess what? Still wasn’t fully satisfied. I was still turning 40. I remember my mom’s 40th birthday, so how can it be MINE?!

A few months went by, and we took our yearly vacation to Boone, NC. You see, I live in a house with fearless people, except me. We always do a certain hike on Grandfather Mountain, but I always have us stop at a point where you have to start climbing ropes and ladders. Y’all remember — I was determined to conquer that fear of heights. Well, I DID IT! Check, check! You bet I climbed up those steep ladders. We got back to the cabin that night and I looked up YouTube videos of people climbing those same ladders and I felt so damn proud. But it was short-lived. We were going back to reality in two days, which meant the 4-0 was a week away. I laid in bed that night and tossed and turned. The actual day came and I was miserable. Let’s just say (insert some more drama) I survived the day acting more like a toddler than a 40-year-old woman.

turning 40I have a great life. I mean, I MADE it to 40. There are so many who never do. I have two great kids, kids I actually love to be around. I have a husband who adores me and thinks I hung the moon. I have fantastic parents who have always supported me and in-laws that are irreplaceable. I have a group of close friends who would do anything for me and I, them. What in the actual hell is wrong with me? A dear friend randomly called and I told her how I was truly feeling — the good, the bad, and the ugly. I laid it all out. Y’all, sometimes all you need to do is talk. She turned 40 a few years before and talked to me about how wonderful it has been. How she’s finally found the true her, she’s found more compassion in life, she sees people now in a different light, and how this has been her best decade. Her raw, honest talk on day two of being 40 changed my perspective. No, I didn’t take that girls’ trip, but I took a fantastic trip to the Keys with my husband. It was exactly what I needed for my post-40 attitude adjustment.

Guess what? I turned 40 in July. It’s been amazing. Just as I suspected, I don’t feel the same as I did at 39. I feel even better. My 20s gave me a college degree, a great career, my husband, many fun pre-kid times, extensive travels, and life lessons. My 30s gave me two of the greatest blue-eyed babies I could ever dream up. It’s my privilege to be their mother. I learned HOW to be a mother. I learned to stand up for myself and to be proud of who I am no matter what, quirks and all. It brought us the loss of one of the greatest humans to walk this earth, and I learned how to pick up the pieces for my family to help us all move forward as best as we could. I learned that friendships cannot be one-sided and sometimes you have to let them go — and that it’s okay, even when it hurts. I’ve learned that I matter. I’ve learned to speak up for my political views, even if they might be different from those I love. All of these experiences have been priceless. Some I could’ve done without and will forever be changed because of them, but that is how you learn and grow. I’ll never look back at any decade with sadness. I cannot wait to see what my 40s bring. It’s a privilege to be here and I proudly wear the number 40 as a badge of honor! As my wise friend says, “The best is yet to come.” Let’s do this!

Born and raised in St. Augustine, Johanna moved to Jacksonville to attend UNF and never left! Now this former elementary school teacher turned Stay at Home Mom to Hudson and Callie, and wife of 13 years to Matt, enjoys life at the beach. Johanna enjoys being room mom and volunteering at the kid’s school as PTA President. She also in an avid runner, and loves working out at The Gym Jax!


  1. I had a 5 month old when I turned 40 so I didn’t have any time to reflect or be concerned about it. Just another day of no sleep and lots of poop. I’m thinking turning 50 will be the big one for me. Forty is not as old as it used to be, lol.

  2. Johanna, This is awesome! So honest in sometimes a world of putting on a smile even when things are not perfect! But being perfect, feeling perfect about everything is not the norm! Love you that you found all the good in a time when it was challenging, because when you find the good the good stays with you!!


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