Today I’m celebrating my 40th birthday, which feels a bit surreal to me. In many ways, I don’t feel my age at all..but in other ways, I feel so much older. My 30’s held some of the greatest challenges for me – moving from NC to NY, shifting from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time working mom, being diagnosed with Lupus, fighting a 2-year-long battle with depression & dealing with heartbreaking loss in my immediate family. But, that decade also brought me some incredible blessings – watching my children discover their talents & thrive academically in a new school, having the chance to mentor newly engaged couples alongside my husband, learning how to manage my disease in a way that allows me to avoid heavy duty medications + so many amazing family road trips, camping adventures & international travels that have given us the most precious memories.
Most of my life, I’ve tried to hide my age – I was allowed to skip a grade in elementary school, so I was always the youngest in my class. I was still playing dress-up when all my other friends thought it was childish; I couldn’t see the PG-13 movies that all my peers were talking about on Monday morning; I was the last to be able to date and the last one to get my license. When I got older, I didn’t finish college (something I still regret), which meant I entered the professional world at the ripe age of 19. I was a fast learner and poured myself into the job, so I was able to quickly work my way up through the ranks. But the problem with advancing so rapidly is that the people I was managing were older than me, so I always felt that I had to conceal my age so as not to ruffle any feathers.
I’ve never really understood why some women are afraid of aging, when practically my whole life has been spent wishing I was older. And now that I’m finally turning 40, I can look back & truly feel pride for how far I’ve come. Every wrinkle, stretch mark, scar & smile line tells a story of a life that has been lived to the fullest and reminds me of how much I have to be thankful for. When I was younger and would envision what I thought my life would look like when I was 40, I never would have pictured it the way it’s turned out. But, there’s a newfound strength that has come from unforeseen challenges & there’s tremendous beauty to be found in the unexpected.
When I blow out my candles tonight, I am confident that I will feel nothing but gratitude and a sense of hopefulness for what is to come. I can’t wait to usher in this new season of life and to see all the promise that it holds. I will gladly welcome both the joy & the pain with open arms because I know that they are equally necessary for cultivating perseverance, expanding my faith & further developing my character. So, if someone asks me my age, I will proudly tell them the truth because I’m thankful for every year that I’m blessed with & I don’t plan to take a single one for granted.