So I’m in the shower, thinking (it’s where I do my best thinking), when I realize I haven’t heard anything from the editor for the last magazine piece I did. It’s my first time writing for her, I’m contractually obligated to respond to the magazine’s request for revisions by Day X and today is Day X but they haven’t requested anything.
This is kind of a problem because 48 hours after Day X, I’m headed out of town. Out of the country, actually, to what the general population would refer to as a third world destination, so I’m not banking on reliable Wi-Fi.
I make a mental note to send a quick email but when I sit down to my computer, there’s one already waiting from my editor. It contains the phrase, “I’m moving your piece forward as is” followed by, “I’d love to work with you again and am looking for a few regular writers for the such-and-such column.”
Then I get an email from a PR firm in New York following up with me on whether or not I’ll be coming to the Bessie Awards and do I want to do any interviews and by the way, Michelle Dorrance (an amazing tap dancer who has been turning more than a few heads with her choreography) is performing…
And I have to tell them thank you but no because I will be on a press trip in El Salvador!
I used to read Maryann Keyes novels about people who live lives like these and think to myself, “Wow! How cool is that? I wish my life was that exciting.”
(And yes, for me, writing a no-edits-required magazine piece is pretty damn exciting. And don’t even get me started on the fact that for the first time in my life, someone is paying for me to fly to a foreign country for a week because they value my work. It’s the stuff of dreams… dreams that you just sigh about and file away under “Never Gonna Happen.”)
I’m writing about all of this for two reasons: I know that a lot of folks who read my blog and know me personally are concerned that I’m not a very happy person. Well, I am very happy right now. And it makes sense. I’ve known since I was 12 years old that my life’s purpose is to write but I’ve spent 15 years distracting myself with other things for fear of failure. Now that I’m refocusing, my life is very quickly and very wonderfully taking a turn for the better: financially, professionally, romantically, and so on.
But the other reason I’m writing about all of this is because it’s not just happening to me. I have a collection of girlfriends, mainly from college and from high school or from the dance community, who are just like me: single and childless but, damn, let us show you all of the stamps in our passports. Let us show you our graduate degrees, because we’ve all got them, every single last one of us.
We are also all teetering on the edge of being “almost 30” and we’re all well aware of it.
Now, this awareness could lead to the usual and completely unproductive self doubt that usually follows a lot of wine and some late night Facebook trawling (“OH MY GOD. So and so is married and has a kid? What does she have that I don’t have??? I’m almost THIRTY…”)
But in our case, although there is admittedly, a lot of that going on, there is also a freedom. A license. An expectation. Of ourselves.
I am almost thirty. I can ask for a raise.
I am almost thirty. I don’t have to take that job just because they offered it to me.
I am almost thirty. I am worth more money than this and I don’t have to put up people implying that I’m a “bitch” just because I’ve learned to negotiate. (They wouldn’t call me a “bitch” if I was a man.)
I am almost thirty. If now’s not the time to take a leap of faith, when is?
And so we are leaping. We are negotiating, pitching, applying, buying houses, moving across the country for new jobs and slowly but surely shedding our old skins.
I remember my mom reading “Reviving Ophelia” when I was kid, and doing her best to guard against the onslaught of self doubt that affects most adolescent girls.
I wonder if there is a similar book for 20-somethings, and if there isn’t, there should be because when I get off the phone with my girlfriends, feeling so proud and happy for them, I wonder: where the hell have these brilliant women been for the past decade? What the heck was wrong with us?