Becoming Velveteen

16 weeks until I turn 50. Inspired by a fellow adventure racer whom I met at USARA National Championships last year, I’m reviving my goal to finish a book by my own 50th birthday. She wrote poignant, inspiring, and even educational stories, more like mini-memoirs, every day for 50 days until her 50th birthday.

She’s a Russian immigrant, educated in Russia. The first story of hers I stumbled upon was about her experience learning English. And y’all know me with my grammar Nazi ways…but I realized, I truly don’t care about any of that when the sentiment and thoughts are pure and authentically good. I didn’t read all 50 mini-memoirs, but the ones I did, hit me right in the feels. Learning how even one person’s journey to 50 years of age could be both so different and so alike, was fascinating, humbling, and really made me feel connected, even if for a moment, in these vast interwebs of ours.

Now I know there’s no way I could write daily like that but once a week, on Saturday mornings, I can manage that. #realisticgoals

Once I got past wondering why this Velveteen Rabbit excerpt even showed up on my Pinterest feed, (how do they know? 😂) it was the second spark I needed to take my thumbs to the phone screen and start writing…errrr…typing? tapping?

Take a quick glance at my hundreds of perfectly poised selfies and you may think I’m a vain AF narcissist. I assure you, it’s not really that. At all. I was raised to always be concerned about how I “looked”, not just my physical appearance, but my public demeanor, how I behaved in school, in church, amongst adults. How I felt didn’t really matter. How I fit in, did.

Now there’s definitely something to be said about learning etiquette and being socially aware. Sadly though, that can easily morph into an unhealthy self-consciousness…too worried about others’ reactions and judgments (good or bad), always projecting what you think others want to see, doing things to impress others, saying all the right, witty, clever things…you know, instead of being authentic, vulnerable. You end up living your life NOT saying and doing what you want and wondering why you’re so anxious all the time…wondering what the hell is wrong with you.

You may find yourself…one day feeling empty, lost, and questioning who you really are. (If you heard that Talking Heads song in your head now, you are my people.) Can we say, “Mid-life crisis”? There’s something about turning 50 that flips the switch for many of us and spurs us on to make big changes.

Me: ”Why doesn’t society find me more valuable now?” For damned sure, I’m wiser, kinder, more experienced, more capable, and in my case, I’m even physically stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m literally able to contribute more in a meaningful way. Yet, all that can go flying right out the window like some Mig 28 in one of my most favorite movies (#topgun😂), especially when I see a little more grey in my hair, a little more jowl in my cheeks, a little more sag in the boobages, and a little more fat in the baby pooch. Geez…and the stretch marks. Sigh.

I used to blame society, the patriarchy. But each of us makes up the whole. I hold myself accountable for buying into the bullshit as an almost 50 year old woman. I hold myself accountable for feeding into the objectification.

It then dawned on me. I haven’t been asking why society doesn’t find me valuable. I’ve been asking myself why I don’t find me valuable. Dang it. Always comes back to that darned self-love and self-acceptance concept. Welp, I’ve always been a believer in individual responsibility. Why back out of that now? That is truly the only way to change our world. Speak up for, stand (or kneel) for your beliefs, and most important, BECOME Velveteen.

Here I am, 16 weeks until 50. Grateful for me and all the things that have happened to make me who I am today. I hope you find my stories relatable. I hope you laugh, you cry, and feel connected to our shared human-ness.

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