I always hear people–especially my dad, who’s a very young 68–say, “Age is not a number; it’s a state of mind,” and they’re probably right. Unfortunately, when you experience your first major decade change (10 and 20 don’t count), sometimes it’s way too easy to get wrapped up in that simple little digit.
That’s why, in the spirit of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes (or goose, acorns, and pumpkin–if you want to get technical), I’ve decided today to celebrate all the things my thirty years have gifted me.
1. My personal and professional experiences.
In my life, I’ve had opportunities to travel to places my parents haven’t seen–and may never see. I’ve eaten pizza while staring at the Duomo in Florence; I’ve tasted wine at a local, family-owned winery in Ston, Croatia; I’ve performed a scene from Othello on the Globe Theater stage as the bells of St. Paul’s were chiming midnight. I was selected from a large pool of professionals–some with much more experience than I–to help lead the reform movement at the high school where I teach. At thirty, I am a respected, integral part of my professional community–at an age where many people are just starting to launch their careers.
2. The knowledge that it’s more important to be respected than to be liked.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a bitch. Bitches aren’t really respected anyway–more like feared, and I’m not interested in that. But what I have learned is that by spending too much time pleasing other people (in order to be liked), I forgot to please myself.
3. My family
Even though they’re third on my list, they’re not. This is going to sound cliche, but I don’t care. My family–my husband and daughter, as well as my mom and dad and other more extended family–are the ones that keep me sane (more or less) on even my worst days. No matter how hectic or crazy my life gets (which it does, on a daily basis), they’re the ones who keep me grounded, and they’re the ones that motivate me to be successful in my life.
Whatever your age today, I hope you’ll reflect on those gifts that your years have given you. Today isn’t about crow’s feet, gray hairs, or joint pain. Today is about life–and what really matters.