I turned 38 a couple of months ago, so it’s official – I can no longer claim to be “in my mid-30s”. But rather than feeling sad or dismayed, I was surprised by my own feelings about turning 38.

I’m surprised that I feel a degree of nonchalance. More and more, with each passing year, I find that age is just a number determined by the amount of time we have spent on earth. I no longer see age as a limiting factor, and I have learnt that we are only limited by our mindset. Possessing a growth mindset means we never stop learning and growing, and this is what keeps us young where it really matters – on the inside. One’s true age is the way we feel inside, and while I may not look it, I feel blessed to still possess the spirit, energy and enthusiasm of a 10-year-old.

I also feel a sense of wonder that I’ve reached this age, just two years shy of 40. How did the time zoom by without me noticing? I marvel at how far I’ve come, and how much I’ve grown (not just physically!) in the past 38 years.

Mostly though, I feel gratitude and joy. I’ve always been big on birthdays, thanks to my family. We grew up without much for extra luxuries, but we always had big birthday bashes – mostly rambunctious affairs at the beach, where the whole extended family would gather for kite-flying, football, catching and sand play, culminating in a home-cooked picnic or barbecue.

I am thankful for the people who took the time to celebrate me, with the sumptuous food I have been treated to, the bottles of bubbly popped, the candles atop the many chocolate cakes that I have blown out… But most of all, I am thankful for the gift of everyone’s time, planning and setting aside precious hours to spend with me. I love all the fun activities (my friends know I prefer experiences to gifts!) and cool places, but truly, I have enjoyed their company the most, connecting over shared meals and experiences.

In a world where youth is prized, I am quite amazed that I have never felt as happy and content as I do now at 38. In deliberately simplifying my life over the past few years, spurred on by the pandemic that made me question what really mattered, I feel blessed that there is nothing material that I could possibly want.

Sure, a new wakeboard, a pair of skates, or a fancy bicycle would be nice, but my only wish at 38 is to always be as happy as I am right now.

This story first appeared in the June 2021 issue of Her World.