If you’re a race fan who has been bombarded with coverage of Danica Patrick over the last decade or so, you might feel an odd sense of relief as Sunday approaches.
Once the Indianapolis 500 concludes, the Danica headlines will fade from your Twitter timeline and shift solely to the sphere of celebrity news. You won’t have to send angry emails about the attention she receives being unwarranted based on her results, because there won’t be any results.
Thank goodness, you say. You’re sick of hearing about Danica!
But let’s pause for a moment and consider this question: If given the chance, would you honestly pass up the chance to switch lives with her?
Danica Patrick has lived a remarkable life to this point, compiling bullet points on a racing resume that will sound mighty good whenever she arrives at a speaking engagement.
Please welcome the highest-finishing woman in Indy 500 history, the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole and one of just 14 drivers to lead laps in both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500!
But her identity is about to become increasingly disconnected from racing — and that will only make Patrick’s life better from here. Once she steps out of the car for the final time on Sunday, any pressure and stress from existing in a performance-oriented spotlight will fall away, replaced by sunshine and freedom and positive vibes.
She’s already spent her post-NASCAR days traveling overseas, making waffles on Sunday mornings and planning weekend farmer’s market visits. She has gobs of money, a massive brand and, soon, all the time in the world.
At just age 36, Danica Patrick can do anything. She can go wherever she wants, whenever she wants; she can live her best life on her terms in her way.
Pretty great, right?
What will she do with that opportunity? Maybe she’ll do a cooking show. Maybe she’ll write self-help books. Maybe she’ll do a television project to positively impact lives.
In all honesty, she’ll probably sign up for something to challenge herself — like she did with hosting the ESPYs this summer. That seems to be a common thread with her.
But no matter what Patrick chooses, she seems uniquely positioned to make Phase 2 of her life into whatever she wants. It’s all there for the taking.
“I have definitely big dreams and aspirations for myself, for all my companies, for the kind of emotion I want to have on a day-to-day basis,” she said Thursday, looking relaxed as she spoke to reporters for an hour during Indianapolis 500 media day. “I’m looking forward to a good, easy, happy, calm, joyful, exciting, adventurous life. If I say I want it, there’s a very good chance that’s what I’ll get.”
That last statement isn’t bragging, but a reflection of her strong belief in the concept of “manifesting” — the power of writing down your goals. That’s a key Patrick says applies not only for herself, but for everyone.
On Thursday, she did an interview with her hometown newspaper in Rockford, Ill. and a reporter showed her an essay she wrote at age 14. In it, she wrote she wanted to be an IndyCar driver.
“I’m like, ‘See? If this isn’t an example of ‘Write that shit down,’ nothing is,’” she said. “This is manifesting. You have to write it down and you have to imagine what you want. So I do that as much as I can.”
The bottom line is you can’t switch lives with Patrick. And maybe you don’t want to.
But she’s at a place of enlightenment now, and listening to her blueprint for happiness might spark some ideas on how to bring more joy to your life, too.
“At the end of the day, what I think something people don’t talk about enough is instead of thinking your life is all laid out for you, take some charge of it,” she said. “Look at yourself instead of thinking everybody is going to fix you. And (don’t think) ‘If this happens, everything is going to be OK.’
“That’s a failing proposition, because you can’t guarantee that’s going to happen. What you can guarantee is your own emotions. So it’s about working on those.”
Patrick could very well be a successful self-help guru, spreading more of her techniques for a healthy lifestyle (as she did with her recent book). Who knows where it all could lead?
First, though, she has one more race to run.