I turn forty later this year, and I’m totally digging this age. I recently realized that somewhere during the last two-ish years, I basically stopped caring about what other people think of me, at least on a macro level. I care about my family and my close friends, of course, and if they ever expressed some kind of concern over my behavior I’d listen to them…but that’s pretty much it. These days I present myself as I really am, without a lot of apologizing.
Glennon Doyle Melton talks quite a bit about this phenomenon in her new – and amazing – book Love Warrior. She discusses her “real self” and her “representative”: the public face she sometimes puts on for the world. In my opinion, a great benefit of getting a little bit older is that you feel less and less need to send out your representative. You can just…go as you are.
This increased sense of freedom and decreased sense of fear has led me to write with a lot of candor: articles like this, this, and this. And amazingly, when I’ve put myself out there, I get back empathy, and encouragement, and emails saying things like, “Thank you for writing about it so honestly. I’ve been there too and you summed up just what it felt like for me.” That’s big. It’s very big for me.
But the coolest part of all is that I’ve seen other people being just as brave or braver, putting themselves out on the line even more than I did. And I feel like we are a sisterhood and a community in a new way. This age, this phase of life, has made a lot of us drop the act. It led my friend L to write openly about her miscarriage, the loss a very much wanted baby. It led many of my friends to rail against the misogyny and sexism of this current election’s media coverage, openly and in writing. (For the record I’m With Her, and I don’t apologize for that either.)
And most recently, it led Heather to write this article about being a single parent, and what that truly means for her and her children and her ex-husband. It quite literally took my breath away. I had tears in my eyes as I read it. It’s her story, unvarnished. It’s really damn brave.
So, come as you are, lovely friends. We want to hear your stories – your real stories. We’re saving you a seat at the table and we’ve already ordered you a nice glass of wine. (Or tea, as you prefer.)