Well hey there, today is my birthday! My 40th birthday to be exact. Whenever my age has come up during the past year people typically respond with, Oh no, are you totally freaked out?! It's made me think a lot about how bent out of shape our culture is about the natural process of aging. Today I'm asking you for a birthday gift: to read this post, reflect on your milestones, think about the good things that are happening in your life right this second at the age you are, and, if you feel so moved, to share this post with others and encourage them to similarly reflect. This is why I think 40 is the new 40:
WHEN I WAS 10 I was insecurely fumbling through the transition from elementary to middle school. All I wanted to do was blend in with my peers, which was basically impossible given the (sometimes painfully) obvious difference of being Asian and low income in a community that was 99% Caucasian and very affluent. I wanted so badly to have friends who considered me a priority and a confidante and spent most of my time feeling that I had none. (Total sad panda, I know, but it's true.)
WHEN I WAS 20 I was establishing my confidence and identity as an overachieving college student after rather average (sometimes sub par) performance in high school. Discovering that I could, in fact, excel at things was a bright light, but this time was also clouded deeply and darkly by an emotionally abusive relationship that pitched me to the brink of an eating disorder, hardened my shell and perspective on pretty much everything, and led to me alienating friends and family. (I'm blessed that many of these people waited for me to emerge from the dark side.)
WHEN I WAS 30 in many ways, life was great. Jon and I had been happily married for three years. We relocated back to our beloved city after various grad school stints. Laurel was a bright and bouncy little baby. But man oh man, I was suffering professionally through a postdoctoral fellowship that looked awesome on paper but was incredibly boring content-wise and was emotionally draining via my advisor. Not only was the working relationship rather demented, but I unfortunately also became entrenched in his family's drama. It was so hard and painfully disappointing to feel that I had spent my scientific career building up to that job.
TODAY I AM 40. I couldn't ask for a better partner in life in Jon. I have two beautiful, healthy daughters in Laurel and Violet (the latter who was something of a miracle). In the last seven years I have done a career 180 and built a creative multimedia career where I call the shots, create my own schedule, and have the fortune of meeting incredibly talented and inspirational people who are wonderful friends and colleagues. I am blessed to have friends and family who consider me a priority and confidante. I am living a healthy lifestyle and feel positive about my body image. This phase of life has given me the strength and motivation to complete new challenges (like, hey, writing a book while having a newborn!) and also contemplate new ones (like, hey, the half marathon I'm going to attempt tomorrow). Not every day is easy but when I reflect on how my life has evolved with each decade, I am filled with gratitude. I can't wait to see what this next decade will bring.
In a nutshell, 40 is where I want to be. I don't long for 40 to be the new 20 or 30; 40 is the new 40. Please reflect on the awesome things in your life right this second. And if you feel compelled to share any of these things below in the comments, I'd love to hear them!