My sister turned 32 on the day after the election.
I was worried she wouldn’t get out of bed.
It’s not that Trump was just elected the next president. It’s that America took a crap on everything that matters to her, from civil rights to women’s issues, and she was devastated. Plus she’s thinking about changing careers and redesigning her life, which is pretty stressful.
And I could relate.
When I was 32, George W. Bush was president. It was near the end of his final term — well after he assumed control with a record surplus and plunged the American economy into recession but slightly before the banks failed and the housing crisis reared its ugly head. I was working for Pfizer and laying people off all over the world, and I could barely get out of bed.
I came home from work on my 32nd birthday and experienced an inflection point. My husband captured a photo of me opening my gifts, and I asked to see it. I didn’t quite recognize myself as I spied a chubby and tired-looking brunette wearing pajamas at 7 o’clock at night on her birthday because she was too exhausted to go out for dinner.
Something in me snapped. It snapped hard.
I remember thinking — fuck, no, I can’t make it another year. Things need to change. And, while I didn’t have a grand plan, I knew that I wanted a second chance at adulthood.
So, very slowly, I began to dismantle my life. It took awhile, and it’s not like I had an orderly process and picked one thing to tackle and worked hard until I fixed what was wrong.
Instead, I looked outward instead of inward. I kept my eyes open for opportunities to change my circumstances. I began asking for what I deserved from my colleagues, my friends, and even my husband. I said yes to things that sounded hard and scary. And I stopped eating McDonald’s — something that I’ve maintained even until today.
The key to my process was simple: I kept my expectations low. The only thing I wanted as a thirty-two-year-old woman was a chance at a do-over. What I discovered is that every day is a do-over. As you live and breathe, you can wake up and change your destiny.
And, nearly ten years later, I have changed mine.
I’m truly sorry that my sister woke up to President-Elect Trump on her birthday. That’s the worst gift for a hardcore feminist who volunteers her time and fights for those less fortunate. The only thing worse than a Trump presidency is a Republican majority in the house and senate. So, yeah, America basically took a crap in an envelope and mailed it to my sister on her birthday. Postage due, no less.
But I still believe that every day is a do-over. It’s never too late to change your life. And I hope that today is the day that you, my dear readers, decide to reboot your life.
Don’t wait another year.
Your sister’s life is my life. I received the exact same present for my 32nd birthday.
Did she call you in a basket of tears? Because that’s what I did to my sister 🙂
I believe in getting a day to process and then move forward. It was crappy that the day was my birthday, but I can’t control that. I can control what I do moving forward. And I find a lot of comfort in that.
Happy belated birthday. It gets better, I promise! xo
Thanks Laurie. Good message for a Monday. Hugs and hope and action, however fumbling those first steps may be.
Thanks Franny. Love you!
Thank you Laurie. Very motivating.
Thank you Yvette.
I really needed to read this today.
I wish I had a sister.
Mary, you’re the best. xo
Laurie, very simple and inspiring. thank you. good one to start the week,
Thanks Suresh. I’ll be in London Dec 5-10. You around? Let’s connect offline.
Yes, yes, yes! We were just talking at work about the arbitrary deadlines we set ourselves – “I’ll do that in the next week/next month/in the new year” – when really those delayed start dates don’t help anything except delay a start. Thank you, LR, for putting it out there!