I had to take a pause from shouting for people to Get Your Cousins to vote (but I still snuck it in, hehe) to tout a very relevant, very brilliant new Netflix release, Radha Blank’s 40 Year Old Version. Watch it, it’s hilarious- and if you already have a subscription (or your BFF’s login, let’s be honest) it won’t cost you anything but time. But I especially loved it because it gets to the heart of why I started Grownesque in the first place.
Image Credit: Netflix
If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a movie about a once-hot playwright who rediscovers her passion for rapping at the tender age of 39, as she tries to resurrect her career in theatre while mourning the death of her mother. Semi-autobiographical, Radha wrote and starred in the movie, and also makes her feature-film directorial debut… for which she received a Sundance award, no less. (Yesssssss!!!)
As I think about the film and its premise of rediscovering your passion, I’m realizing it’s about something people may have called, or maybe still call a ‘mid-life crisis’. This theme hits close to home for me, and I am near Radha’s age in the film, so I reject this whole ‘mid-life crisis’ notion- partially because the thought of late 30’s being mid-life sounds absurd.
But I did some research… and the average life expectancy of the American woman is 79 years old… so it’s apparently riiiiight on target.
Alright, fine. Mid-life, it is. Insert Home Alone cheek slap and scream here. (P.S. Macaulay Culkin is 40. WTH???)
Ok, noted. But the ‘crisis’ part. Let’s unpack that.
Crisis means something awful is happening. Call 911, do CPR, fan out the flames, do whatever, just make it staaaaaaahhhhp.
But no. It’s not a crisis at all - on the contrary, it’s like a... rebirth. This fascinating phenomenon when you start to realize you’ve unknowingly been in a cocoon of complacency until it begins to shed. And you, then, emerge as a butterfly with these wings you didn’t realize you were growing, and an evolving, but life-altering understanding of the world and of yourself.
And as your vision becomes clearer (proverbial vision- maybe you now need glasses or something because, well, your eyes aren’t quite what they used to be, but that’s being literal about it- stay with me, now) you start to realize that the trivial things you once spent entirely too much time obsessing over don’t really matter… like, at all.
And maybe you start realizing everything you’ve ever thought you needed to find was already there- inside of you. Those passions that you once took for granted are, in fact, part of the very essence of why you are on the planet in the first place.
Very cool, right? Yes and no. That realization, friends, can be scary. Maybe that’s why it’s called a crisis. You’re suddenly seeing things differently. You’re seeing yourself differently. Chances are, you are steps away from where you really want to be. Realizing this can still be uncomfortable. But it's actually a sign of growth; it’s up to you to decide what to do about it.
So, at 37, Nancy Pelosi won her first congressional race after having been a stay-at-home mom and long-time political volunteer and fundraiser. You probably know where she is now…
Book editor Toni Morrison realized she should be writing books, not editing them, and published her first novel at 39. I’d say that was a wise choice.
Image Credit: The Irish Times
I could go on- there are countless women I know and women who the world already knows who didn’t put, as Blank said in her Sundance acceptance speech, “An expiration on a passion”. If it’s in you, do it.
So, what’s your ___ year-old version? It’s not about the additional fine lines or grays or pounds. It’s about what’s inside. And it is probably better than last year’s. You don’t have to have all the kinks figured out - you just have to have the confidence to know that this year’s version is incrementally better and wiser, so listen to her, and see where she’ll take you.