Today is my 39th birthday.
I still find myself in disbelief that I am 39.
Some days I feel like I am still 17, or 25 at best.
And not in that “I feel young!” kind of way.
It’s like I am emotionally and mentally stunted at 17 or 25.
I’m supposed to feel like an actual adult, but I have no idea what that means.
Sometimes I still feel like that emo-teenager or lost young adult who had no idea who she was or what she wanted.
I am officially staring down the barrel of middle age.
40 is now officially 365 days away.
Last year, this same day was not only my birthday but also my final day as a teacher.
It was a big day.
And although I imagined my life would look and feel differently right now, I am grateful for every bit of it — all the good, bad, lonely, ugly, boring, and predictable parts.
I am glad that my life isn’t the same as it was.
I can reflect on my experience as a teacher with pride and know that I did everything I was supposed to do as a teacher…
But also look forward to the future, knowing I have much more to accomplish.
I am glad to no longer be in toxic environments that made me question and doubt myself daily.
I am grateful to be at a job that, despite its predictability, allows me not to feel stressed or overwhelmed in any way.
I can be exactly myself without having to work overtime to fit in.
I don’t have to feel burdened by the expectations of looking or acting a certain way for everyone around me to feel comfortable.
I am thankful to have more TIME —
I have learned so much about myself, others, and, most importantly, God in the last year.
I learned what it meant to be filled with fear and worry, to feel hope and anticipation, to be disappointed and broken, misunderstood, desperate, and alone.
I understood what it meant to rely on God entirely.
I learned that growth and change are painful and uncomfortable, not just for me but for others in my life.
I experienced heartache and disappointment as friendships ended.
But, I also experienced the love and devotion of people who supported and protected me fiercely.
I learned what it meant to trust God’s plans even when I couldn’t understand them.
I learned what it meant to stop living in fear but walk by faith.
I learned that I am far more capable than I ever gave myself credit for.
I learned that I am smarter than I believe.
I learned that what I have to say is important, and my voice is valuable.
Despite how I have been treated or what I’ve been told all my life, I learned that my life has meaning and purpose...and I am worth much more than I can imagine.
I have learned that I am enough...as I am.
Now that I am 39, I feel this new hope and anticipation that something even better is waiting for me…
That everything I have gone through has been leading up to THIS year….
And listen, I could be really wrong.
But, for now, I am going to face the new year with the belief that
….the BEST is YET to come.