When my mom turned 40 I was a teenager. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, to have a teenage daughter right now. She had also owned 3 houses by the time she turned 40. First she had a career as a teacher, and then she became a full-time mom. My dad had had the same job for close to 20 years. They were settled.
I live in an apartment – one in a series of rentals throughout the US over the last 20 years. I’ve been married for just 5 years, my husband is in school. I’ve got 3 degrees (nearly 4), I’ve worked in several industries and am making my way in a new one.
A client asked me the other day how long I’ve had my own company. I had to stop and think. “I’ve never done anything else,” I said. And he replied, “Wow, I’ve never met a serial entrepreneur before!”
I’ve never thought of myself as that. It’s just what I do. The epitome of what I do is unsettled. And impermanent.
This year my grandfather turned 100, and he too has been doing quite a bit of reflecting. I think there are points in our lives that society tells us are milestones. For me it was 14, 25 and 40. So far.
“I’m gonna be forty!” Meg Ryan. “When?” Billy Crystal. “Someday!” Meg Ryan. When I was young I watched that scene in “When Harry Met Sally” and thought 40 was such a distant future.
Why 40? I think it’s because when you’re younger you see 40 year olds as true adults. Old adults. People middle-aged, heading for retirement. People who have figured out where they’re headed in life and they’re on their way there.
So it’s only natural when you get to that age finally, to ask yourself “am I headed there?” If you then ask yourself “where?” it seems like maybe you have a problem. I don’t know where I’m headed. Am I headed in the right direction? I think so. I never dreamed it would be such a circuitous route though!
I’ve done a lot. I have worked with children in multiple capacities and ages (art camps, soccer refereeing, drug and alcohol recovery, day camps, housing projects). I’ve worked myself up in the film industry – first as a set decorator and art director and then as a documentary filmmaker. I’ve created multiple behavior change campaigns – for asthma, microfinance, sustainability, civic engagement and exercise. I’ve been founding member of a startup. And failed. And have done it again. I’ve helped multiple corporations and governments to plan and innovate over the next 10 years. And I’ve helped several successful startups get off the ground.
Oh, and I’ve written a blog. For 3 years. And as I hear from readers, it sounds like I’ve made a true impact here. (Thank you, for all of you, who have told me this – it means a great deal and keeps me writing!)
So here’s the whammy: I feel I’ve only just begun. I have a lot of life left to live, a lot to do with all the knowledge and skills I’ve picked up over the years.
And I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to yet. Not by a long shot. I want to create substantial positive change in the world. It’s what I set out to do back around the time my mom turned 40.
I don’t know how to get there. I don’t feel like I’m middle-aged, certainly not close to heading for retirement. I wonder how a teenager would view me now.
Is it all in the perception, or is the world different now?