At my age, birthdays are really no big deal anymore…
Recently, I was looking back through the postings on V&R to find some patterns of the stories told on here. I was looking at postings related to my birthday (I turn 52 today) and found myself reflective and aspirational. Some emotional health professionals call this a "mid-life crisis."
Maybe, they're right.
Part of a so-called "mid-life crisis" is the marking of the birthdate. Sometimes, I would rather spend the day alone, doing what I want to do – except go to work in order to pay the bills – and quietly marking the day as it is. Yet, social media has changed the way we see birthdays. They instigate your friends, colleagues, contacts and foes to wish you a Happy one. With so many people watching you these days, it becomes distracting when your mobile device blips a notification of someone wishing you well.
Perhaps it is the new reality. Driven by mobile devices and social media, our lives have been transformed at any age. We're apt to share our lives. The extent of that sharing is debatable.
In part, we're a narcissistic society. Between DJ Khaled's Snapchat, Kanye West's and Donald Trump's Twitter feeds, we're given a view of how much we want to be like them. Whether it is in jest or by fandom, we want to be one in the hot tub wanting our backs washed by someone sexy or to say something unfiltered that would garner ten thousand retweets and an equal number of replies – either positive or negative.
We also do stupid stuff on social media. How times were we to be reminded of a celebrity death from 2014? Or, a story that was written in 2011 that had been rehashed and republished without permission by some wannabe automotive website? I could go on, but I'm afraid I may have offended someone by now…
Maybe turning 52 is a curse? I'm getting old. Yet, I'm not about to recite Martin Luther King, Jr.'s final speech from Memphis just yet. I have not seen the "Promised Land." I will let you know when I do.
So, get off my lawn! (I always wanted to say that…)
There are some positives in turning 52. I may be old in mind and body, but there is still a young spirit. Perhaps this is due to catching up to things I should've done when I was 22. Like buy a 1950s classic and learning how to wrench it. Learn to become competent in driving a manual transmission. Find a car culture. Get a job in some automotive-related business.
Why didn't I? Not going to get into it. I was stupid. Or, stuck in trying to figure what I wanted out of college. Or, was too busy chasing semi-attainable dreams. Or, keeping myself in the closet due to internalized AIDS-phobia and other fears of rejection.
Fifteen years ago, those dreams started becoming true. At the age of 37, I began a trajectory into web publishing thanks to a journalism friend in Chicago. That opened up the door to my first forays into the automotive journalism. From balancing a day job at a telecommunications firm in Madison, Wisconsin, I began to write about the automobile in a social-cultural context. This was under the title of Managing Editor. I had a cartoonist and a HIV/AIDS columnist under my wing. The latter just happens to live not too far from me these days.
Ten years later, I was on the floor of the Chicago Auto Show. It was not my first time being there. It would be my second Media Days I worked. In 2011, I was welcomed into the automotive blog/journalism community by the industry and my colleagues. No one really knew who I was. I have gone every year since. These days, I proudly wear my credential bearing mine and V&R's name, and my Midwest Automotive Media Association membership badge.
Ironically, these two milestones happened around my birthday. They would serve as catapults into what you are seeing today. That probably explains why it is good to celebrate a birthday once in a while.
As much as I shake my first at social media, it has been a catalyst for this work. I have embraced it, even with my own social media strategy. It also feeds into the amazing unlocking of many doors that has transpired over the past two years. Taking V&R forward to the local Carmmunity is a job that requires some patience with the universe. I am now finding places of comfort within my car brethren. Still, there are many more doors to unlock. I am also finding road blocks that pop up preventing me from cultivating relationships and readership. In encountering those, I have learned to simply move forward with the work.
Progress still happens. It is also cause for celebration. This year, I figured I would celebrate my birthday again. I've decided to invite a few friends for dinner. Why not? It's only a birthday…
If one thing serves as a reminder of my birthdate, it is to take inventory of where I am at now. It is also good to sow some lessons in life. These lessons include becoming successful in life and work and surrounding yourself with good people. I have done that locally. It has kept me centered in this work. Beyond the Twin Cities, I have done the same thing with the same results.
Motivation towards yielding excellence in my work is what keeps me from not feeling my age. I also know that sometimes the execution could do me in. I do not want to think about the latter, as I just want to be read, engaged and involved. At 52, I still believe that I have a lot more in the tank to weave everything together and still do something new to enhance the value of this work for the long term.
I'm still far from making that "mountain top" speech. I doubt that will happen soon.