My 40th birthday was just a few days ago. Here’s the thing... I don’t feel any different AND I feel totally different. But that’s a lot like me. I usually have completely opposing views of... well, everything really.
The fact is, I think I'll love being forty as well, but probably not until the day before I turn 41. I think this dichotomy is about allowing yourself to just be who you are.. You may see yourself one way and then realize that you’re another way as well. That doesn't mean that you're a hypocrite, it usually means you can see both sides of an issue. I don’t totally fit in either the conventional corporate world or the artsy fartsy world, but I’ve lived in both. The proverbial square peg in a round hole dilemma.
This started me thinking about choices I’ve made. I think a lot of my decisions depended on the person I was at the time the decision was made. I’ve spent a lot of my life being carried away by opportunities that were good, but not exactly what I would have chosen had I really thought about what I wanted.
For instance, I have an Art Degree, but my longest career was in tech support and computer installation. Yep, a computer geek. How did that happen? I’m still asking myself that question. It was a good career, it paid well and I enjoyed it. I learned more lessons than I thought I ever could. But they were all good lessons to learn. And I've had some amazing experiences to boot.
So, the quintessential (I had to look up the spelling for this magnificent word) mid-life question is “How did I get here?” Although I think I’ve made good decisions, and they’ve led to good places, I think they were ultimately safe decisions. In other words, I don’t think I’ve been a power player in my own destiny. Did I just say power player? (Blek!) In fact, it’s a little weird to use power player and destiny in the same sentence... but I guess that proves my multiple personality point.
So, most of the time, I’ve gone where the conventional path has taken me. I think this is part of the reason this milestone of a birthday hit me so hard. The conventional path is never the path my heart or soul wanted to take. Nevertheless, here I am. Now, what do I do? If I think too much about what has to change... what I want to change, it completely paralyzes me. But, if I think about the possibilities... it’s so exciting someone might have to peel me off the ceiling. You see this conventional path has taught me things I would’ve never known if I’d jumped feet first into the art world. The computer jobs brought me to building websites and setting up inventory databases. Working retail taught me about pricing, costing... budgets & operating expenses. Working for a realty company helped me buy my house and my house equity paid off my student loans. And so my life went, one foot in front of the other.
Although there are times when I regretted not becoming a full time bonafide starving artist (a term which I wholeheartedly loathe), I am also grateful that I can make the leap as an older and wiser woman. If I would have leaped first, not knowing what I know now, chances are about 50/50 I would have failed... Actually the odds were probably more like 90/10 in favor of failure. And I have to be honest, failing like that, might have discouraged me from ever trying art as a business again. I don’t think I can ever not make art. It’s biological for me. But I do think I would’ve given up the idea of supporting myself with it.
So, all in all, the path I have haphazardly chosen was really a good one. My conventional jobs have paid for my clay habit and other equipment. All things considered, I would have never been able to afford those things had I not had a good job. And now that I’ve had the time to figure out what I really want, and how to get there, the odds are finally in my favor.