The journey through my 40’s was one that I call my very own “coming of age story.”
I had already gone through a divorce and felt the judgment from people who knew me and those who didn’t. Both of which had me bending over backward, trying and make everyone happy. Everyone that is, except me.
Somewhere along the way, once I hit the magical 4-0, my tendency to be a people-pleaser started eroding and outside opinions began to matter less and less. Despite what others thought or gave opinions on, I got remarried; I made choices to leave my career and start my own business, and yes, even to get a tattoo. I had come into my own and was increasingly comfortable with who I was and how I showed up in the world. I had begun living my truth.
This week’s guest on the Midlife Schmidlife podcast did the very same thing when she turned 43: Gretchen McNeely came out as a lesbian. For Gretchen, living her truth began when she embraced who she is…all of who she is.
Gretchen is a design and user experience strategist, a loving single mom to her two kids with a supportive ex-husband. She lives in central North Carolina where she is active in the standup comedy community. But I have to share that the label I would give to Gretchen is “courageous.”
Gretchen heard about the Midlife Schmidlife podcast through a mutual friend and reached out to me. She wanted to give voice and hope to others who may be going through her similar story. Gretchen has nothing to sell, no services to provide other than good humor and a caring heart.
Before we started our interview, I mentioned to Gretchen that I was afraid of using words or phrases that would be offensive to her or others in the lesbian and gay community. It was a genuine concern, and I asked that she, please correct and to teach the Schmidlife listeners and me. The result was an honest conversation, on both sides and one that I hope will open the eyes and hearts of others, even if they don’t accept the LBGTQ community.
It’s easy to surround ourselves in circles that mirror our thoughts and beliefs but as a consequence, we rarely see the world outside of those boundaries. I wonder how our world could change if we were more open to learning from other sexual orientations, religions, cultures and races. Instead of looking for ways we are different, we looked for ways that we are similar. Political correctness wouldn’t be the goal as much as “caring correctness.” Schmidlifers, if there ever was a time that the world needs compassion and open dialogue, it’s now.
Our conversation during this episode is real and open, and Gretchen was respectful of all audiences with doses of humor thrown in. I feel very honored that Gretchen was willing to be vulnerable and share her journey with the Schmidlife community. I hope you will feel honored as well at her wanting to share her experiences with us.
Links from the Show