When Girls debuted in April 2012, I was horrified.
Each depressing character seemed more pitiful than the next. My idealistic coming of age in the early '70s self wanted to believe it should be different for our daughters. They should be able to stand stronger in who they are as young women than this group did. They should love themselves more.
I didn't want to acknowledge that it might not be so.
I also worried.
Perhaps I had simply reached the age where I was too old to get it. My own 20s are a long ago memory of a time when cellphones didn't exist and if you met a guy you liked and he said he would call, you sat home and waited. Back then there was nothing trendy about living in Brooklyn. It was a borough you escaped for anywhere but. And you never asked your parents for financial help. You were too proud and determined to do it on your own.
Despite my misgivings about the characters, there was no denying the talents of Lena Dunham. She is the Nora Ephron of her generation with a sharp wit and a talent for conveying what she wants to say that makes you stop and pause.
So I kept watching and used the excuse I usually use to watch and read what is not targeted towards me. That I am, above all else a writer. And in order to write well, you need to read and watch a lot of different stuff, sometimes just to see what all the fuss is about.
Five seasons later, I am hooked.
Enough so that last week I binge-watched season five. Three nights. Ten episodes. Arguably the best season yet. Surprisingly, for me, I was not just marveling at the writing and the evolution of the characters. I, old enough to be Hannah's mother, related to Hannah.
Let me explain.
As Hannah breaks up with Fran, and is recoiling from learning that Jessa is sleeping with her ex, she runs into a writing friend from college. In that process she remembers that she has not been doing what she came to New York to do. Write. And so she starts again and we see the beginning of a new transformation back to her core.
This is the spot where I had my personal aha moment.
My bio says that above all else I do, I am a writer. Which is true. But I am a writer who has not been writing for the sake of writing, which is where my best writing comes from.
The mindless scribbles. The morning pages. The journaling in which ideas pour out.
It's been erratic. And when I let it go too long, I find it harder to get back to.
Somewhere in this adventure as a solopreneur I started almost eight years ago, I stopped writing just to write and started writing with purpose. For me. For my clients. For social media.
We call this storytelling for business and content marketing.
It's not a bad thing. It brings me pleasure. It pays bills. But it's not the kind of writing that really fuels my soul and gives voice to all I have to say.
And as Hannah said in this last episode, I too, have a lot to say.
Hannah reminded me it's time to give priority to that writing.
I have to force myself to get up an hour earlier and start typing before the day gets ahead from me -- the way I managed to do when I still had a corporate job.
It's what energizes me. It's where my answers are. It's likely what's going to move me from this questioning place I've been in lately.
It might not always be "on brand" or what I would suggest to a client to do or even be shared here, but it will be my voice.
Lena Dunham reminded me that good writing transcends generations. If we keep our minds and hearts open, each generation has something to learn from the other.
Even if at first glance what they write looks to be pitiful characters.
Joanne Tombrakos is a Storyteller, Business Development and Marketing Consultant, NYU Prof and above all a writer, who helps build brands for the digital age. For more information on how to hire her or to register for her online course on personal branding, visit joannetombrakos.com.