I just turned forty. In my teens and twenties, I had a lot of assumptions about this birthday, most of which were created by my parents’ fortieth birthday parties. On both occasions our house was filled with (cough) well-wishers, who marked the milestone with gag gifts including adult diapers, hemorrhoid creams, denture adhesive and other ointments I’ve blocked from my memory.
In other words, my parents were officially “Over the Hill,” (a sentiment I read on a black balloon).
Although I expected entering this stage of life meant I would begin to fall apart I assumed it would be a time when I had my stuff together. Though I have a great marriage, two amazing kids, and a mortgage, what I lack is a solid career. When I was thirty I was an art-psychotherapist at a hospice and now I’m a stay-at-home mom who does casual administrative work. I rarely introduce myself as a writer because of what I perceive a writer to be.
Re-evaluating my assumptions about turning forty has caused me to re-evaluate my assumptions about being a writer. In my teens and twenties, I never imagined writing as a career choice. I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t clever enough, and I certainly never had someone come to me and say, “Have you ever thought about writing?” My assumptions about writers were created by a belief system of what I thought a writer was: an elite being who sits on a mountain top spinning wild and wonderful tales to inspire and enlighten.
Anyone who knows me is well aware sitting still is not an activity I’m capable of.
The reality of forty is not what I expected and neither is the reality of being a writer. I’m not saying my beliefs in either situation are wrong but that they are not the whole picture. These incomplete perceptions caused unrealistic fears and anxieties to develop in me.
As writers there are a lot of obstacles we imagine that prevent us from writing and (gag) submitting our work. What pushes me on is listening to other writers who have similar anxieties and boldly write in spite of them. They role-model for me what a true writer is—someone who writes!
Therefore, I’m a forty-year-old writer and proud of it.
Thanks for reading,
Jenn (and Elaine)