Today I’m 43. Last year on my birthday, I wrote about the cool surprise of my 40s being completely awesome so far. That continues to be true.
Here’s just one example relevant to this blog: in my twenties, I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle all the negative comments I get in reaction to a lot of the stuff I write. People make so many personal attacks that have nothing to do with my argument, it would’ve driven me crazy. There’s an option on my SFGate blog not to accept comments, and I would’ve probably used that if I blogged at all.
For many years, I worked in talk radio, which in some ways, I think, was a precedent to the internet as far as the spontaneity, anonymity, and accessibility. I was used to hearing people say horrible things, just not to me. Slight difference. I was the producer, but it still got me really upset. Especially when they called the host who I worked for “fat.” When someone lost a heated argument, invariably, they would shout, “You fat fuck!” and hang up. “How do you handle it?” I asked. The host, Bernie Ward, laughed, shrugged, and said, “I know when they get to that, they have nothing else to say.”
Here’s what I’ve learned in my old age: Think of the worst, most horrible thing you can ever imagine someone saying to you. Got it? If you want to write or speak publicly, that will be said. Count on it. Multiple times. In ways you never imagined. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. And once you experience that and survive it, it’s kind of amazing and liberating. I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about what other people might think or say. What a huge waste of time.
I hope women in their twenties are smarter than I was and know that. But in case you don’t, if you are reading this, please write. I hope you write novels or screenplays or blog or whatever. The sooner you start, the better for us. The world needs your stories. Desperately. And open an IRA. Right now. Don’t drink so much. Quit smoking. Finally, calm down– even cranky, prickly you will meet the man of your dreams.