You know the saying: you know you are getting older when you look in the mirror and see your mother looking back at you.
Even my grey hairs are starting to look like my mom's these days, wiry and a bit coarse, pitiful attempt at curling.
I've had grey-to-silver hairs popping up since I was sixteen years old. Only lately have they started doing that. It gets me thinking about how much has changed in the past few years.
I turned thirty this past July, quite happily. My twenties were tumultuous and I am happy to put them behind me. Looking back, I see that I didn't feel the freedom to be myself, probably because I didn't love myself. My efforts to improve myself were, at the core, efforts to be someone else. At thirty I feel something I never felt at twenty: I like me. I'm comfortable with me.
When I see the grey hairs multiplying, I don't wish to go back and be a younger version of myself with today's knowledge and wisdom. I wish that at twenty I could've known who I'd be, and where I'd be, and what all I was going to do, by the time I turned thirty. I highly doubt I would've been so depressed or so pessimistic about the present or the future. I would've lived with more confidence and hope.
In the past ten years, I graduated culinary school at the top of my class. I spent my three-month internship in England and Wales. I visited the Caribbean. Twice. I learned to cook, I learned cakes, and then I put it all aside and learned about auto glass and how to answer phones and be kind to people. In the span of three years I drove from (and lived in) Arizona to Florida to Connecticut to upstate New York, back to Florida then on to Pennsylvania, and back to Arizona. I learned about people, about myself, to hear my own voice, and the voice of God. I went through and conquered an eating disorder. I've tasted the bitter gall of grief; two grandparents, a cousin, far too many children of friends, buried. I found my champion and married him, only to find out he was my best friend, too. I gave birth to two children, in the quiet still of water, in the intimacy of my own home, without intervention or drugs or panic. I've learned the depth of my own commitment, and strength under pressure.
I look backward and am amazed at how far I've come, not just with tangible things, but with the intangible as well. I am stronger and healthier now, physically, mentally, emotionally, than ten years ago. I'd trade so much to have my twenty-year-old self feel the pride, love, and self-worth that I do now, and to move forward in life with that as an anchor, understanding my value as a woman irregardless of accomplishments or failures. Maybe that's why I have a daughter, Zao's Sister. ;)
What will the next ten years teach? There is so much I suck at in life, so much I have yet to learn to do (like potty-train a toddler), yet I have anticipation and optimism. If I, who loathed and hated my own soul and my own flesh at times, I being so weak of character, can have climbed out of it and through it, then truly there is no limit to what can be accomplished in any of us. I think it just takes time.