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My birthday is tomorrow, and while birthdays can often be seen as frivolous— an overt display of making one the center of attention between parties, cake, and adoration (aka, all the things I LOVE), it can also be a time for reflection in the past year. And oh boy… what a year it’s been.

The age 31 doesn’t carry any specific weight with it. You’re not starting a new decade like 20 or 30. There’s nothing special associated with the age like 18 or 21. And at that point, you should be so firmly rooted in adulthood, that the idea of celebrating a birthday doesn’t hold the same appeal (in theory). I’ve always loved my birthday, and I can say that that idea did hold true for me. I didn’t plan any lavish birthday plans last year and I told my husband the only thing I wanted from him was a baby. And low and behold, my ever-loving and obedient husband did just that. I found out I was pregnant a few short weeks after I turned 31. And thus began the biggest heartbreak of my life. But, it also began the biggest self-actualization and healing of my life, as well.

Now that I’m about to turn 32, I think this past year will always be associated with the year I grew up. And part of growing means enduring loss and coming to terms with things that are difficult. I can certainly say I did that. It also means coming out the other side stronger and hopefully better. Hopefully I can make that claim, as well. Throughout this past year I learned so much. I learned about heartache; I learned about the strength of marriage; I learned about the true power of connection; I learned how powerful my writing can be; I learned how to rediscover my voice and myself; I learned to stand up for myself; I learned that I can’t be there for everybody; I learned what an amazing city Amsterdam is; and I learned how strong I can be and how much support I have. That’s a whole lot of lessons for one year. But, I am so grateful for every single one of them.

A couple years ago, right after I turned 30, I was at my first “general meeting” with a TV exec and she told me she didn’t feel like she had reached her 30’s until she was 32. At the time, I understood the sentiment, but I couldn’t quite appreciate it. Age is a process. We don’t become the age we’re assigned simply because of what the calendar says. We become that age with experience. That’s why there’s so many children who act like adults and adults that act like children. Age really is just a number. But the spirit of your 30’s is you have now discovered who you are after the mistakes and freedom of your 20’s. You have a firm sense of self. And I’d like to think that’s exactly where I am in my life right now. I know who I am, I know what I want, and I’m no longer so invested about “getting there” as much as I am about “enjoying the there I’m in now.”

And that’s what I hope 32 will be about for me— not worrying about the future, but being able to appreciate the present. It’s going to be an exciting year (meeting my son!), but it will also bring about a new set of challenges (I’m going to be someone’s mom… ahh!) And that’s sort of what aging, growth, and life are all about: once we get used to our current circumstances, the next stage comes around and we have to learn how to adjust all over again. It never gets easier, we just get used to rolling with the punches and anticipating the change. So, thank you 31 for making me better equipped to flow with change. I can’t wait to see what 32 will bring.

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