Happy birthday to me! I am twenty-nine today. This is my last twenty-something birthday, but rather than feeling dread about turning thirty next year, I’m actually pretty excited. When I was little, I always thought that twenty-something sounded terribly old, but now that I’m here, it seems quite young. This will probably be the last year in fact, that people will react with “Oh, you’re so young!” when I tell them it’s my birthday and how old I am.

I’ve gotten used to being the youngest person around in my workplace, in many ways, constantly considered the “freshman” in the office. So while I’m in no hurry to be older than I am, I don’t regret the approach of maturity, either in mental or physical terms.

I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago in fact, about how I feel like my life has finally reached a sort of settling point. I feel as if I’ve finally acheived a few things, reached some goals, become a whole person. I think a lot of people struggle in their twenties with something akin to a second adolescence as they finally move into the professional world, be it academic or corporate or otherwise. I’ve been no different. If I look back over this journal, which I began when I was just a year out of college, there are a lot of ups and down, a lot of soul-searching and angst as I struggled to figure out what I wanted from life and how I wanted to go about getting it.

The Me who started writing at age twenty-three was much less sure of herself, much more afraid of failure, in fact, in many entries, that Me seems quite lost. The Me I am today is so much more confident, less afraid, and far from lost. I know what I want out of life, and for the most part, have a good idea how to get it. Furthermore, I’ve actually managed to get some of the things I want out of life, both spiritually, mentally, physically and actually.

Sure, I have a lot of material stresses right now, but while this is true, I actually feel like I’m able to handle them most of the time. I have bad days when I slip back into despair and self-pity, but for the most part, I just deal. It feels good to be able to deal. At twenty-three, I had a lot of trouble dealing with things. At twenty-nine, it’s almost (not quite) second-nature.

I like who I am now a lot better. I’m calmer, more focused, more serene. Not to say that I’m a Zen kind of person or anything, ‘cos that wouldn’t be true at all — I’m still quixotic, but the peaks and valleys aren’t quite as extreme, and that’s a big relief. It’s hard to deal with life when you’re swinging up and down like a yo-yo.

I have a foundation now, to build on, a place to go from here. I feel, in some ways, as if the sky’s the limit. If I can work hard enough, plan well enough, I can get wherever I want to be, for me, and for my family.

For the first time in a long time, I have more things to be joyful about than to be miserable about.

It’s so good to be able to stand here in the sun at last.