Today I turned 35.

It simultaneously seems like I’ve been around longer than that and yet feels like I’m still a kid.

Just yesterday, my dad took the training wheels off my bike, and my mom gave me my first perm because I hacked away at my own hair (and a perm was the only way to mask the chops without giving me a pixie cut).

Just yesterday, I was still hugging loved ones who today are no longer here.

Just yesterday, Allen asked me to be his girlfriend on a lovely, clear May evening, and I couldn’t stop smiling for days.

I visited the Twin Towers just yesterday, and I saw the levee in New Orleans.

Just yesterday, I was barefoot on the porch of the house I grew up in, serving tea in tiny plastic cups to my dolls in the July heat right before jumping into a little kiddie pool with grass clippings stuck to my feet.

Just yesterday, I sat on my bedroom floor staring out my window towards the sunset, promising myself that someday I’d live in California.

Today, as I sit in the quiet stillness of my apartment typing this, I am overcome with gratitude for all that I have and with awe for how things have gone. I am rich with love in my life. I am the luckiest person you know to have so many wonderful people to call family, friends, and colleagues.

Many of you know that this has been a year of big changes for me. After 7 years working in a pediatrics department among the kindest, most generous, wonderful people you could imagine, I started down a new career path in Silicon Valley. I can’t begin to describe what it was like leaving colleagues who have become like family. I can’t quite capture in words what it felt like to leave the state that I was born and raised in to move across the country; though, anyone who has experienced such a thing will know exactly what I am saying.

I used to hate the thought of getting older. I dreaded being in my 30s, each passing year another year of staying cocooned in a comfort zone of the familiar. Except, now it’s not that way. I finally waved goodbye to the comfort zone. It took me a long time, but it happened when it was supposed to happen.

Turns out that growing older is wonderful in so many ways. I absolutely love being this age, and I am excited to see what the years ahead bring. What a privilege to gain life experiences. What a privilege to finally start learning that all of the things I’ve spent countless hours worrying about actually don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s to 35 more years of laughing, exploring, loving, and new experiences.

Lead image courtesy of vpisteve.

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