I turn 39 today (technically around 8:30 tonight) and it’s got me thinking about being 13, and being 26.
At 13 I was living at home with my mother and sister, grandparents around all the time, and our new puppy. I had just met the girl who would become my maid of honour. I was very ready to leave elementary school behind and start over in high school.
For my 13th birthday my mother gifted me the Beatles movie Help! and I watched it over and over again, until I went out and bought myself A Hard Day’s Night and then watched that one over and over again and started buying as many of their albums as I could.
I had graduated from more childish books to John Grisham and Michael Crichton.
I started reading a lot of Michael Crichton because he was one of the creators of ER, my favourite show. I recording the episodes on VHS so I could re-watch, I bought magazines with stories about the cast – which were aplenty because the show was a massive hit. I had a crush on Noah Wyle.
I don’t have any recollection of what I wanted to be when I was 13, except that in the back of my head I always wanted to be a writer but didn’t really think it was possible.
I remember spending a day at Canada’s Wonderland when I was 13. I remember I got a bad sunburn because I missed putting sunscreen on my nose and the older girls I was rooming with bought Ace Ventura at the hotel, even though that was against the rules.
In 1994 The Paper came out and two decades later I sat in my living room watching it with the man who became my husband at 26.
At 26 I graduated from university for the first time. I had already graduated from college and had a false-start in life. I was living with Joe in an apartment and then a townhouse. We moved from an apartment to the townhouse so the dog could have a backyard. I don’t think I was reading much of anything because I was finishing my BA and working at the student paper, and then planning a wedding and looking for a job.
At 26 I worked in one of the most toxic environments I have ever experienced before getting laid off at the end of my probation – which was devastating to my confidence but one of the best things that could have happened. By my 27th birthday I was working in one of the best workplaces I have ever experienced. Which was a godsend because I had started to think I would never be happy in a job.
Suddenly I had a job that taught me who I was supposed to be and led me everywhere I have gone since. I learned how much I loved politics and met other people who felt the same. I worked for a man I truly believed in and realized how important that was for me. I worked myself to the bone for the things I believed in. That job and that man led me to my Masters degree, which is something that I never expected. Even at 26 I never would have expected.
At 26 I didn’t know when or if I would ever be ready to be a mother. At 39 I have a 10 year old. And I’m a good mom, most of the time.
At 39 I know that I am smart and talented and a hard worker and that the people who hire me are lucky to have me. I know my worth. I know my beliefs in ways I maybe couldn’t explain when I was 26. I am unashamedly me at 39. I love television – even bad television. I make sure to watch Rupaul’s Drag Race and catch up on Grey’s Anatomy and I love British panel shows. The hilarity. That is something 26 year old me didn’t know about.
I love going to the movies by myself. I love to read. I am not comfortable in makeup or high heels – 26 year old me hadn’t gotten past the ‘supposed-tos’ like I have now.
I have also giving up trying to read the classic novels I am supposed to have read.
At 39 I know that other people like stationery and true crime as much as I do. I go to Comic Con and fawn over things I love that other people also love.
Thirteen year old me thought she was going to travel the world and 26 year old me wasn’t sure she would ever get anywhere. Now, at 39, I have been to New York City to see Broadway shows like I’ve dreamed of since I was 10 year old me. I’ve been to Cuba and really enjoyed a beach vacation that I never thought was my kind of thing. I’ve seen every province. We drove to Washington, DC and explored museums.
I have seen some of the Muppets in person.
And it is okay that I am 39 and unabashedly love the Muppets.
There are things I wish 13 year old me had taken into consideration, and things I wish 26 year old me had seen coming. If I could go back I would tell her that her father would not be around as long as she expected. I would tell her to keep up with the sketching her grandfather was teaching her. I would tell her to not wait to just be herself because there are others out there like her.