Updated to include this link.
My friend, Kristen, recently commented on this blog that she’d come across a quote and thought of me. I immediately changed my tagline to include it:
It’s never too late to be who you might have been.
I think it fits so well with the title of my blog. The previous tagline was “In which I attempt a decade do-over” but the quote is more “me”. So it got me thinking – just who might I have been? In no particular order (it used to bug the hell out of me when Samantha Harris said that on “Dancing with the Stars”) my answers are:
- a wife
- a mom
- a dancer
- an actress
- a singer
- a Broadway star (not even a star, really, just singing/dancing/acting on Broadway)
- a writer
- an interior designer
- a resident of New York City
- a marathon runner (never really wanted to do that, but I thought I’d throw it in)
Since 40 is the new 30, it really is possible for me to become any one (or more) of the aforementioned people in the next decade. Since people are delaying marriage and children, forty-something doesn’t seem as old as it once did.
Remember the show thirtysomething? I loved watching it in college. Michael and Hope and Elliot and Nancy were soooooo angst-ridden about everything from potty-training and carpooling to career advancement and guilt over boredom as SAHMs, and they seemed so, well, grown up. Mature. Old. Now I think of 30-something as young and just barely getting started in life.
Sociologically speaking, there has been a trend toward prolonged adolescence or what one researcher has termed “youthhood.”
Recent findings published by the American Sociological Association and based on U.S. Census data show a sharp decline in the percentage of young adults who have finished school, left home, gotten married, had a child and reached financial independence, considered typical standards of adulthood. In 2000, 46% of women and 31% of men had reached those markers by age 30, vs. 77% of women and 65% of men at the same age in 1960.
This report was published in 2004 (for the full article, click here), but the statistics are probably even more pronounced in 2010. (Kind of looking forward to the Census data now.) Many of my friends have had babies well into their thirties; some (including my sister) didn’t even start their families until after the age of 35, which would have been unheard of 20 years ago.
I was thinking recently about a family for whom I used to babysit. The mom was 18 years older than I was. When I was 17, she was 35 and had just had her sixth baby! Now her children have children (which kind of freaks me out a little – how can those little boys be someone’s dad???)
My friend, Kristy, said her mom used to talk about how proud she was that her first child graduated high school before she (the mom) turned 40. At my age, this woman had one child in college and one about to be! Most of my friends will be in their 50s (or older) when their children enter college.
So 40 is the new 30. And it’s never too late to be who you might have been. So what does that mean for me, a 40-something, never-married, childless woman who has taught school and volunteered at church and done little else for 14 years? I hope to live the answers to this question, chronicling them on this blog. It’s an experiment in faith and trust and risk-taking.