This post originally appeared on my tinyletter, Where is my Mind?
It’s my 41st birthday next week. It’s a pretty benign birthday. Usually 40 is the big deal. I didn’t really tell anyone other than my closest friends that I didn’t think, when I was younger, that I would live to see 40. I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen, but I couldn’t picture my life at 40, a world with me in it at 40. Did I think I was going to die? Or just fade away? That feeling was a mix of my ADHD, my depression and anxiety, but also the messages I received from my family, from society, that there wasn’t a place for me anywhere in the world, if I was to continue being who I was, if I refused to change. I was told the world would not bend to accommodate me, so why should I not believe that the world would have its way with me before I turned 40.
So I turned 40, and it felt like everything now was a gift. What do you do with time you never thought you’d have? Apparently, in my case, EVERYTHING.
- I went on live TV
- Started a podcast
- Started this tinyletter
- Attended 4 conferences (BY INVITATION!)
- Did a leadership program
- Went to Disney (!!!!!!)
- Put on 10 pounds, lost 15, and then put them all back on again. Stopped really caring.
- Wrote something like 200k words between blogging, freelancing, and other bits and pieces
- Oh, pitched my Bad Female Academic blog posts as a book AND GOT IT ACCEPTED (editing it still)
- Pitched my memoir, GOT THAT ACCEPTED (writing it still)
- Pitched a YA book on swimming and ADHD, GOT THAT ACCEPTED (LOL did you see the other two things?)
- GOT MY DREAM JOB
- Going to edit a book of essays on a topic I’ve been thinking about for 5 years
- Went to six concerts, all but one were women
- Coached 9 swimmers (half of whom it was their first year swimming) up to the next group
- Somehow coached my son and we didn’t kill each other
- Made friends (but only to have to move for the dream job, but I guess it means I can still make friends)
- Swam in front of a large group of people
- Have 5 “academic” essays coming out
- Oh, and found out I have ADHD
So, 40. Fuck it. I wanted to be a writer, and so I finally, FINALLY took the chance and pitched the projects I have been wanting to pitch for a long time now, writing the things I’ve been wanting to write, accomplishing the things I’ve always wanted to. I went back to that moment, in Morehead when I was at my lowest, and my husband asked me, what do you want to do?
And I went out and did it. All of it.
I said yes to things. I fought for things. I put myself out there for things. I figured out how to use my ADHD as a superpower. Figured out that my ADHD is in fact a superpower.
So here’s to being 41. Here’s to figuring out how to parent a child in middle school. To figuring out how to survive a hellish commute with my marriage and family in tact. To moving in December, and pulling my kids once again out of school part-way through. To starting again, again. To actually following through on all those projects I started this year, while I was 40. To saying goodbye to my swimmers and my heart breaking.
To bending the world to fit me for another 40 years.