Out in the Open

40: The age of anxiety

Out in the Open producer Debbie Pacheco is feeling anxious about aging and turning 40 next year.
Turning 40 has OITO producer Debbie Pacheco feeling anxious. (Anssi Koskinen)

I'm turning 40 next year.

And, I'm anxious about it.

It doesn't help that our culture tells me in some subtle and not so subtle ways that the older I get, the more irrelevant I am, especially as a woman.

It also doesn't help that my mom hates everything about aging, including my greying hair. Listen to my story. She tells me it's ugly. 
Debbie Pacheco weighs the negatives and the hard-to-find positives of turning 40.

I feel like I'm choking on the pressure put on women to look young, act young and be young. I just can't swallow it whole because I know it's B.S. But I can't seem to spit it out either. So, there it is, stuck in my throat.

But it also goes skin deeper. My anxiety about turning 40 is also my anxiety about aging and mortality.

So, I explore aging and the number 40 with a few women who, like me, are turning 40 next year, or who have been there and done that.

Author and journalist Anne Karpf in particular has some words of wisdom to share.

"If you live in the kind of western cultures that we live in, of course you have that opinion. That is what is fed to you. I call this the deficit model, which is the idea that aging is all about loss," says Anne.

She thinks we need to recognize that all stages of life are about both gains and losses, in our younger and older years.

"One loses certain things and one gains other things. And that is true for the whole of life."

Anne shares several tips on how to rethink getting older, including this gem:

"You really need to make a distinction between resisting aging and resisting ageism. Resisting ageism is a really good thing to do...Resisting aging is an absolutely futile task."