I still see myself as Angela from 'My So-Called Life,' but I guess I'm her mom now

Sep 30, 2015 at 11:09 p.m. ET
Image: ABC

“Patty, we’re 40. Forty is still considered young?”

That one line from My So-Called Life left me reeling. During a recent late-night binge of one of my all-time favorite shows, I realized I am almost the same age as the teen lead character’s mom.

I could be Angela Chase’s mom, not Angela Chase anymore! How did this happen?

I can totally recall empathizing with Claire Dane’s melodramatic response, "This life has been a test. If this had been an actual life, you would have received instructions on where to go and what to do."

Her words could have been my anthem, like it was for so many other '90s teens. Part of the reason I enjoyed the show was the similarities it had with my own tumultuous, monumental teen years. I clearly and fondly remember being a hormonal, teenage girl, just like Angela. Now, like all the girls who crushed heavily on Jordan Catalano, I am all grown up.

The more I viewed this classic show, the more overjoyed I felt that I no longer have to deal with all my former teen drama.

Why (almost) 40 is better than 16

I stopped chasing after the bad boy.

I am mostly happily married with kids. I no longer crush on the bad boy of the month. He broke my heart over and over, but it took me time to learn I could live without him. He never would have been in it for the long haul. Ultimately I gave the good guy — my now husband — a real chance. and I couldn’t be more elated that I did. My husband is not only in it for the long term, but he's my friend, my lover, the father to my kids and more.

I stopped being so insecure.

It might have taken time, but I am secure in my own skin. I don’t constantly worry what my friends or those in the once-popular crowd think of my every move. In my youth, I wouldn’t have had the guts to be a free thinker or to walk away from a high-paying job to become a stay-at-home-mom. I would have feared what others would have thought of my decision. I am overjoyed I had the confidence to listen to my heart and make priceless memories with my kids instead of worrying about what other people would have suggested I do.

I stopped being scared to speak up.

I have finally mastered the ability to speak my mind without fear of saying something that could be mocked. Don’t get me wrong, I think before I speak so I don't say something hurtful I am not be able to take back. I have a voice, though, and won’t let it get stifled. Whether I'm standing up for my own beliefs, supporting my husband or being my kids’ advocates, I have experienced enough in my years to open my mouth and let my words be heard.

I stopped obsessing about my looks.

I once spent hours on end consumed as to what in my closet would make me look pretty or skinny enough. I worried about how my hair or makeup looked for that hottie in my algebra class and wouldn’t dare leave the house without looking my best. Now I have been known to walk my girls to the bus stop in the sweats I wore to bed the last night, with slippers, bedhead and no makeup. Years of self-doubt had to be squashed in my inner psyche to get to this point of self-contentment.

I stopped wishing today away.

I don't constantly worry about the future, because I want to stop and enjoy the roses. As a teen and in my early twenties, I kept thinking, “If only I was older.” or “If only it were next week, next month, next year, then... ” I now know the years go by too quickly all on their own without me wishing them away, so I want to enjoy the present with my husband and kids.

Still, as Brian Krakow put it in his now-infamous love letter to Angela, “The whole truth is so much more than” I could even begin to crack the surface to share here, but this is my own so-called life, and I love it.