That Time I Turned 40 and Said “F*&K IT”
Today is September 18th, 2018. It’s my birthday, the official launch of my site NotSoItGirl and what I consider the start of my New Year. I’ve always made fresh starts in September, whether I’ve wanted to or not.
September has brought me some of my greatest beginnings. It’s the month I got engaged, have been offered “dream” jobs and done grown up things like move into a house.
September has also been a cruel bitch. It’s when I’ve been laid off many times over the years—including at six months pregnant.
But, looking at September as a “fresh start” has forced me to “check in” on my birthday and think about what changed over the course of a year. Last year was my fortieth birthday and it freaked me out. I got stuck on all the things that I YET to accomplish and convinced myself were no longer viable at 40.
Total bullshit, I know, but this time last year I was feeling sorry for myself that my book version of NotSoItGirl had yet to sell and that my weight was up to the highest number I’d ever seen on the scale. I was sure that my freelance writing career was drying up too—because my work wasn’t appearing in certain outlets (like ones that rhyme with “Loo Work Limes”). I felt uninspired, untalented and dejected.
And, it doesn’t help that I have this complex where I just assume if I don’t talk to someone every day or haven’t heard from them in a long time—mainly when it comes to work colleagues/contacts—that I immediately assume they must hate me or I did something wrong. Because why in the world would I ever bite the bullet and reach out to them . . .?
But, a funny thing happened during year one of my 40s. This “fuck it” switch went off without warning. I have no other explanation because I turned 40 and woke up ready to take back the control and make things happen. I swear it was as simple as that. If you’ve turned 40, think about—it might not be as noticeable for you as it was for me—but I promise your “fuck it” switch exists and it flipped on your birthday (or soon after).
I lost 90 pounds and made riding my Peloton a mandatory part of my day. I was like, “fuck it”—I’m doing this for me and my health and not letting any excuses get in my way.
I said “fuck it” and contacted someone who I just assumed hated me for no reason other than I’d barely seen her in over 10 years about a freelance job. It’s turned into the best, most rewarding and most consistent work I’ve had in years. And she’s become a great friend, mentor and ally.
Then I was like “fuck it”– just because NotSoItGirl wasn’t becoming a book right now, I decided it WAS going to be a community, a movement and a showcase of my best writing and musings—on my terms—immediately.
And, I said, “fuck it”—if you don’t like me, then you’re missing out because you don’t know me. I basically decided that everyone loves me until they say otherwise. Letting go of that “block” has opened me up to so many career opportunities this year—things that I thought were no longer possible for me because I feared everyone hates me AND because I wasn’t an influential millennial with 100k followers on Insta. Guess what? “Fuck it”—you just need passion, good content and great stories to tell for people to like you, want to work with you, follow you . . . you get the idea.
Let me end with a brief tale. Last night I went to see Reese Witherspoon at Town Hall in NYC for a fun Q&A about her new book Whiskey in a Tea Cup. My motivation for going, however, was deeper than receiving an advance copy of the book. You see, ten years ago I wrote an unauthorized biography on Reese. It was meant for a teen audience, using Reese’s life story as an inspirational message. You know—hey kids, you too can follow your dreams to Hollywood, marry a heartthrob and win an Oscar. Anyway, I actually traveled to Reese’s hometown of Nashville to “research” her upbringing. I was supposed to sit down with her high school drama teacher. I was sure she’d ply me with lots of great anecdotes and connect me with more mentors from Reese’s past for my book. Instead, the drama teacher told Reese she was meeting with me and Reese politely asked her not to. I don’t blame Reese—if I was famous, I likely wouldn’t want someone to tell my story without me. So, I spent that weekend in Nashville eating fried chicken and visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. My book became more of an extended “report” on Reese’s life instead of the fun, dishy best-seller my editor hoped.
I was upset but I always felt like that experience created this unspoken, unknown connection between Reese and I. After my book came out, she was off the radar for a while. People still loved her— she was forgiven for Legally Blonde 2 and the respect for being an Oscar winner never waned—but she wasn’t making hits the way she used to. Until she said “fuck it” and started making them herself (hello Gone Girl, Wild and Big Little Lies). And it’s no coincidence that the “fuck it” part of her career started in her 40s.
So “fuck it”—I’m ready to put myself out there too! Welcome to my new beginning . . .