DEAR HARRIETTE: I just turned 40, and I am having a bit of a hard time with this aging process. Almost to the day, I found out that I need reading glasses. I feel like my bones ache. I know this probably sounds silly or overly self-conscious or something, but I'm worried that now that I have reached this age, everything is falling apart. My life isn't at all as I had imagined it, that's for sure. I am not married. I do not have kids. I have an OK job, but that's not what I thought my life would be like when I was dreaming it up as a little girl. How can I be comfortable in my skin at this point? Please don't suggest that I take a class or anything corny like that. I just want to feel like my life still matters. -- Over the Hill, Detroit
DEAR OVER THE HILL: On the one hand, it is wise to assess your life at key moments. Turning 40 is one of them, for sure. Be kind to yourself in the process, though. Yes, the body changes as we age. Even more, our goals and dreams often don't match our accomplishments. That doesn't mean that your life is a wash. Step back and consider what you have done that makes you feel proud. Write it down so that you have tangible evidence of what your life means to you. If you also notice things that you want to change or do differently in the future, embrace those, too.
I found turning 40 to be empowering because I really felt like I was getting to know myself better. Instead of licking your wounds, choose to see your life up to now as a personal accomplishment. Then look to the future with conviction. You can be your best self. It's up to you what that means.