Friday, March 11, 2011

Fortytude

Tom Brokaw has always been one of my favorite guys. Maybe it's a strange "favorite guy" for a teenager to have. I always found him enormously comforting to watch, especially in the days which followed 9/11. He always showed that he was indeed human, and a very sensitive human at that. When I was in high school, I sent him a copy of my school's literary magazine. I was published in it and wrote about my connection to "The Greatest Generation", an expression he coined for those of my grandparents' age. A few weeks later, my sister got the mail and came inside saying, "I don't even want to KNOW why you're getting a big envelope from NBC."

Inside that big envelope was a signed copy of The Greatest Generation Speaks. Tom had inscribed, "To Diana, because she understands--Tom Brokaw." It immediately became a prized possession of mine. I knew that Tom had received thousands of letters in response to those books, and this was proof that he took the time to read and respond to every one of them. I always knew he was a great man and now I had proof.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say.

Tom's daughter, Sarah Brokaw, has released her own wonderful book called Fortytude.

My mom told me to turn-on an interview with Sarah on The Today Show last week. I thought she was just telling me that because she knows what a big fan I am of Tom's...but it was because she really liked the things Sarah was saying and knew that I would appreciate them and relate as well.

The tagline is "Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life--through the 40's, 50's, and Beyond."

Okay, since I'm not yet 30, it seems strange I should want to read this book, but as Sarah said, it is a book she wishes was around when she was in her twenties. After reading it, I couldn't agree more.

I finished it yesterday and had a good cry over it. Sarah absolutely, completely, in no doubt "gets it."

The general gist? No, I am 100% what I am doing with my life...I have overwhelming fears and insecurities...but I am going to move through each day and do my best, be happy and enjoy myself.

She talks about panicking and feeling like you are running-out of time to do it all...marriage...children. If you asked me ten years ago, I would have said I'd be married with four kids by now...and I'm not...and I'm glad I'm not, but, at the same time, worried it will never happen. Like she says several times in the book, I definitely don't feel my age and with people often assuming I'm in high school, it makes me feel a bit immature and "too young" for things. I don't feel anywhere near "grown-up" enough to be married or have a child, so I worry if I ever will! (And, really, how am I supposed to look older? Dye my hair gray?)

This past August, I made my off-Broadway debut and I think back to the night we premiered and it was the happiest night of my life. I felt so successful and so many people from all different stages of my life were together at the after party. I want to always feel that happy and successful and loved and am terrified that I'm running-out of time to make it all happen for myself. I was laid-off from my job in November. I was there for three years and it meant so much to me. Since then, I have sunk into a bit of a rough patch. I think back to how happy I was just six months ago and wonder how I managed to make such a 180 since then. I have to remember how happy and successful I felt then and now that it is possible to feel that way again.

Sarah didn't go to her twenty year reunion because she wasn't married with children like all of her old classmates were. I have my own high school reunion story as well...my ten year was this past summer, and I was debating whether or not I was going to go. Thanks to Facebook, I knew that, all of a sudden, so many of my old classmates were married with children and I had a feeling that if I went, I'd come home feeling really down that I wasn't (even though I'm not ready to be and don't really want to be right now) and even asking myself, "Oh, come on. How did THEY manage to get married and I'm not???" I went back-and-forth on the subject, and then I got the dates for my show and it was that very same weekend. I admit, it DID feel good to tell myself, "See? you're one of those people who are too important to go to your high school reunion! You don't need a wedding or a baby to validate yourself!" But, like Sarah says, I later realized that nobody else would care otherwise and I shouldn't let that effect me.

Sarah also discusses how she feels a bit of a misfit in her family, as if she was the only one who didn't know what she was doing. I know exactly what she's saying there as I am the "flaky creative one" in the bunch.

Anyway, I really loved the book and will be recommending it to all of my friends...ages twenty-five and up! I feel like all of us are looking around at the others and thinking that everybody else has it completely figured-out and wondering what exactly we did to fall so far behind...but then I realize that almost all of us feel that way and just aren't vocal about it.

I am vocal about it...and so is Sarah...and I am so grateful for that.

Those Brokaws are good stock.

I am not scared about turning 30...I am approaching it with fortytude. I am approaching it with grace.

Diana Rissetto

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