Lost in thought these days...
Jennifer Gulbrandsen reporting to you live from my Monday morning, where I have already spent $70 on Amazon Prime Day, for things I TOTALLY NEEDED, okay?
I mean, I did need new gym shoes to sling drinks in, an outfit for the Chicago office, and a new laptop backpack because I think the bag I’m using now is giving me scoliosis. Look, I’m older now, and my comfort is important!
So I’ve been quiet-ish for the last week, because I have been doing a lot of thinking. It’s not a bad thing! Since my birthday, I’ve felt different about a lot of things. This is the first milestone birthday that’s given me quite the wakeup call. I also feel very dialed in and content with where I’m at right now, and it has been quite inspiring creatively.
I realized that while I am a writer and a creative in the very depths of my soul, I am one of those creatives that cannot have my outlet be my entire life. I’ve tried it over the last couple of years, and I’ve come to terms with it just not being my thing. I’m not a Neil Gaiman or Stephen King who can go hide in a cabin and write for months on end. When writing is my entire focus, I stare at walls all day. I’m a momentum kind of girl. I do best when my life feels like it has purpose and direction outside of myself.
I have day jobs that get to work those creative muscles, I’m actually quite successful in, but it’s more of a ‘those who don’t do teach’ capacity. I can write a hook for a campaign in my sleep. I have achieved a lot in that space over the last few years because it comes so easy to me when it’s for a third party. Sure, I could probably apply my skills to my own ‘brand’ if you will, but where I have never been successful is that I don’t freaking want to. I love the science behind it. I love how Gertrude writes programs and uses my social media accounts as the guinea pigs, but when it comes down to it? I am exactly where I want to be and in a place that works for who I am.
Let’s be honest, I’m 40 and I’m not hungry for fame or fortune. Success to me in my corner of the world is doing what I want when I want and not needing to keep a running total in my head at the grocery store. I write niche things, and I hate self promotion. If I trip and fall into a hit? It will be because of sheer luck.
I guess I’ve just been thinking about what I do because I’m programmed to do or think it, and what I do that actually works for me. You’d be amazed by the amount of things we think, feel, or believe because we have been externally conditioned into it.
For example, last week there was that whole viral moment on Twitter where women over 35 were posting pictures of themselves to prove they were still hot at their age. I was like… why? This is one of those things that just doesn’t compute in my headspace and is part of the reason I find some women to be exhausting. Why is this constant need to reclaim a past version of yourself or compete with and compare ourselves to younger women such a huge thing? Have you ever seen a 40 year old woman who looks 18 in a non-creepy way? Anyone in a nursing home rocking six pack abs?
Now, I understand I’m odd because I don’t have a lot of physical insecurities because I’ve always been performance over aesthetics driven. Like, my body is changing at my age because that’s the freaking circle of life. I haven’t had a concave stomach since 2004, nor am I a size 4 anymore, and I will never be that small again unless I am dying of something. Can I still average almost 7 miles a day, work 7 days a week, and have the stamina to not have it effect me to much? Yes. Is my quality of life in a much better place than those ‘ideal body’ days? YES. Does my self worth diminish as I age? NO. My self-worth is actually increasing because I’m not a fucking pretty idiot after four decades on this rock.
Let me share something I heard that has stuck with me like the phrase ‘learn to love it’….
The right person for you will love that feature/part of you/quirk you think is a flaw the most.
Physically speaking, in my last marriage, I got criticized a lot for my build. I was told I was built like a ‘bulldog,’ because I’m naturally very muscular and have well developed legs and a bubble butt. There were times I dieted down to be as close to their ideal and make them happy, but we’re made the way we’re made. And let’s be real, we are human and we want to be desirable to the ones we want to desire us. It’s really easy to keep yourself busy chasing something you’ll never catch instead of looking at the actual problem.
Nobody who says they love you should hold you to impossible standards or neg you about your appearance. Ever.
When i started seeing Whatshisbutts, the first thing he complimented me on were my legs and how fit I was.
“You’re like a thoroughbred.”
I wasn’t a ‘big girl’ or a ‘bulldog’ I was someone who ran further and faster than him (still do) and kept nearly all of my skating skills after spending 18 years off my skates. We text each other pics of our workouts when we’re apart, and never once has he made a comment about my physical appearance.
And it goes both ways, the things he sees are flaws, I think are absolutely the hottest things about him.
My point is you cannot compete with your teenage daughter or get back your 22 year old body. All you can do is be the best you in this current moment.
When I saw my oldest at the 4th of July festival, I officially had to step pivot into this new stage of life. You just have to step back and appreciate the other beauty you have created. Wear ALL of the crop tops. Show. It. OFF. That’s the joy of youth. You don’t have to consciously remember to hold in your stomach, wear a sensible shoe, or plan your bra by the length of time you’re going to wear it before becoming homicidal.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still hot AF, but I think we get hotter as we get older because of what we bring to the table. We’re still hormonal lunatics, but in a more reasonable way.
I guess what I’ve been in my head about the most is how my belief system about all of the parts that make up me as a person are externally derived. Beliefs imposed on me by other people and society. Writers do this. Mothers do that. Beauty is this. Success is that.
Bullshit. It’s all bullshit.
As I first brought up with my writing in the beginning of this post, I had a preconceived notion of what ‘writers’ do and what being a writer ‘looks’ like. Again, it’s all bullshit. What do I want? What works for me? What is MY definition of a successful writing career? What gets in MY way?
The same thing about this weird obsession our society has with youth and beauty…
I can’t name a single person in my peer group who is going to be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue next month. Are they gorgeous women? Absolutely! Do their experiences make them even more attractive? Yes.
Any person who says, “EW GROSS SHE HAS A WRINKLE AND IS NOT A SIZE TWO THEREFORE SEND HER TO THE LANDFILL,” is a fucking moron, and what they say is stupid. Actually? It’s a lot more about their fears and insecurities than it is about you.
If you have daughters blossoming into adulthood, don’t compare yourself to them or feel like you’re withering away into an old crone. They are beautiful physical specimens, but dumber than a bag of Kardashian wigs because they are babies. You have to be dumb and pretty when you’re young, or else you don’t learn anything.
Let’s be honest, most of us with kids got done having them after a certain age because we finally learned our lesson and were like, HELL TO THE NO.
Same thing can be said about bad relationships. Think about who you thought was a good idea when you were 23 and laugh with me. Our metabolisms were invincible, but our brains were not getting any of those nutrients our abs and perky boobs were using up.
So if it seems more thoughtful and quiet on this end going forward, it’s because I’m asking myself these questions and pivoting into what I really want to do with the second half of my life for me. Right now that’s removing all of those external measuring sticks and replacing them with internal ones.
Tonight there will be a new podcast talking about some other stuff, including the hilarity from this past weekend in Middle City. One that must be recapped, because we were at our most insufferable. Funny things were happening back in Chicago and Atlanta while we were away, and when I got home, my dog decided that I could give her my kneecap as penance for leaving her. Keep an eye out for that!
I’m also debuting a preview of my next project ‘Mon Amie Celeste’ over on my author site this week, and I’ll be talking about that on the podcast as well.
Have a good week, everyone!