Is 40 Old?

Shani Silver
5 min readSep 5

I’m just asking.

What is she.

You know how babies don’t come with a book of instructions? Turning 40 doesn’t either. The closest we come to knowing we’re “doing it right” is a societally praised life path that involves acquiring a solid career, a spouse, a house, and at least one kid — in that order. I have done zero of these things. Thank fuck. But as happy as I am with the things I haven’t done, there’s is in fact an untethering to reckon with. When you’re not doing the things people your age are doing, what age even are you?

I don’t feel old because I’m on TikTok. I also don’t feel young because I’m on TikTok. I am something very in-between, something previously uncharted, and I would be even if I didn’t have a social media predilection. I’m just now noticing it (Cancer sun sign, perpetually slow going). In reality, it’s been happening for quite awhile, and I think I have a ways to go still. The term “mid-life” is only ever used when followed by the word “crisis,” and I’m not in crisis. I mean…*gestures at literally every news headline* we’re all in crisis, but…whatever. I’m not in a panic about my age, I like it. Where are the mid-life people that like it? And what do they do on weekends?

Middle life is a better term, I think. And I think middle life is going to last a long goddamned time. We could call it adulthood but that covers way too much ground, too much variety, and too many iterations of ourselves. While I’m certain I’ll keep iterating until I’m dead, the difference between my age 40 iteration and my age 20 iteration might as well have different DNA. I think I was poured into my current Jell-o mold at 35-ish and then it took awhile to set. The middle life, when you finally get rid of your shitty hand-me-down furniture and stop covering ugly surfaces in scarves — that was the wake-up for me I think. Other people have partnership or weddings to graduate them into adulthood and I had to use home decor. Whatever works. This middle life…it interests me. I think I get to decorate it how I like.

I’ve been trying to figure out when I stopped being a kid, and for many people I hear having one is a pretty decent indicator. But what about the rest of us? I like to think that through my singlehood work I’ve contributed to “the rest of us” narratives being seen as positive, or at the very least…just being seen. This new area of exploration…

Shani Silver

Author, podcaster. shanisilver@gmail