I attended the International Reading Conference in New Orleans and heard Kelly Gallagher speak where he mentioned a writing assignment that inspired me to come home and craft my own version. This piece was originally written in March of 2016, but has been edited and revised several times.
March 7, 2016
This is 40.
Forty is the time that I feel I am old enough to be who I am. Forty is the time I feel that I have earned the right with the amount of time I have been on this Earth to truly show who I am as person, no matter what role I am in. I do not need to apologize for my knowledge and my constant quest for it. I have been teaching for 19 years and do not have to be told I am an old soul. I have been in education long enough to know what I know…and to know who to go to when I do not. I have mentors in my life for professional and personal development.
This is my 40.
I am small enough in physical size that I can wear children’s sized clothes, although I usually do not. I do not advertise this fact, but people ask me. I am petite. I prefer to wear dresses and high heels. I run at least 40 miles a week, but am still insecure about my body and how it looks. There is never a time that I am thin enough. I practice and teach yoga.
I am at the age that I answer a request with NO and no longer feel the need to explain myself.
I am confident in who I am and what I know, but am wise enough that I am not afraid to admit something I do not know and am willing to learn.
I know who I am and I do not need other peoples’ approval.
I often get carded when I try to order a beer….still. Everytime I go to the casino I get pulled into the line to get carded too.
I require and want less material objects, but always need more books. There is little distinction between the need for books for me,my family, or for my students.
I alway carry cash.
I have been in situations where I have made choices I did not think I would make.
I have been given ultimatums and regretted the hurried situations and decision I made. I learn from my experiences and am reflective as much as possible. I have dealt with new experiences and procedures and I never wanted to know how they worked. I am the person I am today because of these decisions and experiences.
I made a big life decision that most would not have had the courage to do and have been told as much. I analyzed my situation; was not happy, and decided to change it.
This is 40.
I know who my friends are…and who are not.
I am at the age that I dress for the job I have, because I have the job I want.
I am more likely to sit and hold my tongue, rather than react. Think fast, speak slow and carefully is my new motto.
Even though I am comfortable with who I am, 40 seems the wrong number to me.
I have vivid memories that I relive constantly.
The perception of what is most important to me has been a paradigm shift.
I drop educational researchers names like I know them.
My laugh is so loud I have been yelled at by a troubled man on a public train. I have been found in Chicago’s McCormick place just by the distinctness of my laugh.
People who know my resume and talk to me are most often thrown by the tattoos I have.
This is 40. This is me. NOW.
Others have perceptions of me are that I don’t sleep.
They think I live and breathe my job.
They think I always have my nose in a book. (Which is true…my nose is in 3 at one time.)
They think I run all the time.
They are shocked when the things they find out about me surprise them immensely and suddenly. The words uttered are :“I didn’t know that about you” I once heard that phrase 5 times on a cab ride to the airport.
This is 40. This is me. I will not apologize for it.