I’ve never really given a shit about how old I was. Actually, that’s kind of a lie.
I gave a shit when I couldn’t drive, couldn’t vote, couldn’t drink legally. I definitely cared about how old I was when I was 12 AND A HALF.
I had a “quarterlife” crisis at 25 – I had just discovered skydiving, it took over my life, and I eventually let go of the identity I had as “Sydney the PR/Marketing Agency Rising Star” – okay not all together, because a lot of my life has been Sydney the _____. Gymnast, cheerleader, rowing team walk-on, Jayhawk, USF Alumni, PR/Marketing Gal, Analytics Gal, Skydiver, Competitive Skydiver, Event Coordinator, blah blah blah. Lots of taglines.
So yesterday, right before I hopped on my weekly Boss School sister circle call, I found this post written by my friend Nicole.
For the past few weeks I’ve been all over the place. Breakthroughs. Breakdowns. Frustration. Elation. Both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. It’s like I’m on a see-saw and it’s either flying up, or floating back down to the ground. Both sides. All of it. Maybe because 30 is looming. Maybe because of the self-development stuff we’re working on in Boss School. Maybe because the universe is weird and the moon’s about to be full.
I feel stuck. I’m terrified to take action. I know that what PGS is all about is going to change from where it’s at right now. I’m not sure on the HOW yet, but the WHY is most certainly clear.
When I read Nicole’s post (if you haven’t read it yet, feel free to do so and come back so the rest of this paragraph actually makes sense), my initial reaction was as such:
If you replace “drinking” with “skydiving” – this post IS MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. I haven’t jumped since the end of last year, and before that, I hadn’t been jumping with any regularity since June, at least not hammering out jumps like I was when we were training/competing. So I’m creeping up on a year of borderline-uncurrency. So, for the sake of talking, I “quit” jumping. So I’m pretty much the “non-skydiver” in all of the situations where Nicole was the sober one. I go to the events. I hang out with all my skydiver friends. I MAKE events happen, but I’m not participating (which, by the way, has always been my preference). Is this scary because I’m done skydiving? If I’m done skydiving, what is my tagline? If I’m not “Sydney the Skydiver” – a part of my identity for half of my 20’s – some serious years of growth and development of who I AM – then who am I? Did I go through this when I left the agency world? I can’t remember. Fucking brain.
This was my topic of discussion with my amazing Boss School sisters. Who am I? What the hell am I doing with my life? How can I give something that matters? What’s the next chapter? If I “officially” quit jumping, do I still have skydiving friends? Am I still fun to be around? Do I still bring value to my skydiver friends’ lives even if I don’t jump out of planes anymore? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I feel stuck. Unable to take action with what needs to happen with Planet Green Socks. Procrastinating on taking action. Is it because I’m “done” with skydiving? Has this sport served its purpose for me? Is it time to let it go? Is that giving up or is that recognizing when something is no longer serving you?
My sisters heard me out, and gave me some clarity after vomiting the internal monologue above in one breath. They’re so patient with me when I’m on rapid fire mouth diarrhea.
“What if you’re just Sydney, and that’s enough?”
I let that sit for a bit. My brain started rapid-firing (29 years of conditioning to analyze, sort, and file information), so I took some deep breaths to slow it down.
Well, that certainly sounds doable.
Jess, one of the women in the group, also turning 30 this year, summed it up perfectly:
“I’m not so concerned about turning 30 and where my life is at vs. where I thought it should be by now. I’m more concerned about looking at my 20’s and wondering why I wasn’t comfortable being me.”
DING DING DING.
When I think about turning 30 in 31 days, I’m not uneasy about the number. My life has completely changed from the plan I had when I was a little girl, when I was in high school, college, my first job, after my first skydive, even in the last 8 months, it’s a completely different picture now than it was when I was thinking about what it’d be like.
I’m not worried about that.
Like Jess, when I think of 30, I think of a new decade. I look back at the last (almost) 10 years of my life and the only thing I can say is this:
I wonder how my life would be different if I hadn’t been shushed by others and shushed myself and dimmed my light and turned down the volume on my voice?
I don’t stay in that place for very long, that place of wonder and borderline-regret. I focus on the things I’ve DONE so far. I made some BIG decisions in my 20’s. I moved to Florida (almost 20, but whatever), I chose to take a year off of college to work at Disney. I changed from Pre-Med to Mass Communications. I went to SXSW. I got a kickass job at a kickass agency before I graduated and moved to Chicago. I spoke at SXSW. I went skydiving for the second time. I let that sport take over my life. I moved to Austin. I spoke at SXSW again. I gave myself permission to make love a priority. I let skydiving take over my life some more. I moved back to Illinois, away from the security of a “real” job. I moved to California. I got married. I quit one of the best jobs in the industry to go out on my own.
I did all of that, completely muted. A grey version of my bright, shiny, sparkly self. There were brief periods of time where I let my light shine, only to throw that version of myself back in the dungeon under lock and key.
If I could do all of that in my 20’s without my true, fully expressed self/voice/light, I can only imagine what my 30’s will bring.
If all of that was possible when I was still holding myself back, and now I’ve committed to myself to let the light shine, turn the volume up and let my voice be heard, the next decade is limitless.
More importantly, this is something I want to share with women everywhere. My WHY is perfectly clear – I want to share this story, share these experiences, and let women everywhere know they are NOT alone. That the little voice inside that wants you to play bigger needs to be let out and be heard. That when you give yourself permission to be REAL – the world just kind of unfolds into whatever you want it to be – and everything around you changes, for the better.
So the WHY is clear. The HOW – now that’s the ticket. HOW can this get out there? HOW can I share this? HOW can more women get a voice and tap into the power they know they have but don’t feel comfortable expressing?
That’s what I’m open to finding out. For the first time in 29 years (or however long I’ve been consciously making decisions), I’m letting go of the analyzing/sorting/filing process – the part of my being that NEEDS ANSWERS RIGHT THIS SECOND. The HOW will show up. And I’m excited to see what that means for me, my expression, the people in my life, the way I fucking show up and give fear the middle finger, and inspire/enable other women to do the same.
30 sounds really, really, really good.