Yesterday I turned 31. Yow-za. I know it's not old and I am not old, but I do feel that way, slightly. I started getting gray hair when I was 29 (and my grandmother told me recently that she didn't get gray hair until she was 80 so I've decided genes are the darndest things). I definitely have to work harder to stay in the physical shape that I want to be in now (like 526 crunches per day if I were up for the challenge). I don't use on a daily basis - nor have I heard of for that matter - all the latest social media apps that I used to be familiar with that the younger kids are using (so, no Tinder and Hinge for dating and meeting new people b/c I am a married lady and have been for almost 2 years). The first time in my life that I really felt "older" was when I started working with students in 2008 as a graduate student living in Chicago. Until then, I felt young, because I was 23-years-old and had nothing to compare my age to. I always nannied for younger kids in high school and college but I never felt mature or "old."
So, is it a bad thing to get older? No, I know that. But, a part of it makes me sad because I really love my life and the people and experiences in it. Birthdays can have a poignant way of reminding you that nothing is permanent. The other less downer side of me admires the aging process. You grow into yourself every year that passes, hopefully learn to be a little gentler with yourself as you've come to realize where your strengths and weaknesses lie and that you're not perfect and that you have a lot to offer. You become more self-assured (for the most part). You have gone through all the bumps of the 20s to be able to realize what it is you'd really like to put all of your energy and focus into in your 30s (whether you know it or not). You have a newfound confidence, but you couldn't have gained this wise perspective without the experiences, decisions, sorrows and triumphs of all the previous years. For that, I look forward to birthdays and I am grateful for the happy and healthy 31 years that I have lived thus far.
"Be where you belong" is what REI broadcasts at their checkout counter in a bold sign above their registers. This is a lifelong journey to tap into: your purpose and where you belong. Where do you belong? How do you figure THAT out? It's a big question...seemingly impossible even. All I can say is cheers to birthdays and the possibilities they remind us that we have ahead of us, and to continuing our individual journeys of tuning into ourselves even more to figure out what makes us feel strong, confident, and like we belong.