Aging. Aging has always been a part of life that brought me fear. I honestly thought that growing up meant growing old - deteriorating, slowing down, equating to lesser than… Oh, how life has taught me so much otherwise.
My early 20’s was a time when I was plagued by not understanding the value of being a strong woman. Due to my lack of life experience, I wasn’t confident in the woman I was. I wasn’t confident in my strength, and I didn’t have the knowledge to gauge what a meaningful vs. meaningless experience was. Decision making based off of my own needs and desires was simply not in my wheelhouse. Additionally, it was a time full of unhealthy habits. I was drinking almost every night in excess, I didn’t exercise, and I didn’t eat to fuel myself. I was out at a bar almost every night of the week trying to find my “forever relationship”, trying to find my “forever friends”, and just simply trying to fit in. Even though I always felt like I was simply existing or taking up space in the social groups where I was considered a regular. All in all, neither my body nor my mind felt healthy. I tended to feel like I was holding all of my pieces together by a tiny thread.
I found running in my mid-20’s. Goals began to shift, along with my priorities. I began to take joy in running rather partying. On the weekends, you could find me by the ocean on a run by myself, completely alone in my thoughts... and there was the mental struggle of going from relying on the company of others to learning to love the time with myself. My time alone on a run is where I found the most growth. Running is where I matured, where I “grew up”. Where I dug deep into my thoughts, my fears, and my goals. It is where I mentally began to overcome hardship. I finally began to trust myself, instead of relying on everyone around me. While I still maintained my “inner circle/chosen family”, I stopped actively seeking out relationships, whether romantic or in friendship because the realization finally hit that I was enough. This is where I began to see even a faint glimmer of my worth, from one step, to one goal at a time.
Running my first half marathon in 2010.
It was in my late 20’s that I finally fell in love. However, the first person I fell in love with was myself (and I truly believe that was what allowed me to have the capability of falling in love romantically). With age, I found an appreciation in knowing what a warrior I am. The adversities I faced in my youth prepared me for day-to-day setbacks. I then learned how to treat myself with a bit of grace and kindness. With age I learned that my ability to overcome hardship, while being compassionate and nurturing my loved ones, was a rare trait and an extremely valuable asset. This knowledge allowed me to find a partner who empowers me and encourages me to push my mental limits, try new experiences, and go to new places. Life felt like an upward trajectory in the realms of positivity along with possibility.
In my 30’s, I realize that I am sharp, outspoken, driven and much less apologetic about it. Now I am the strongest, the most fit... the readiest to take on challenges. I am now happily married and I’m so grateful to my friends and family for being a select group that lifts me up when I need it (though fortunately, I’m usually strong enough to stand on my own two feet through the toughest of circumstances). Characteristics are boldened, confidence has risen, and I have been able to strain negative relationships and aspects that had deterred me from the highest quality of life.
As we age, I realize that we as women have so many more “tools in our toolbelt” so to speak. Aging brings experience, it brings knowledge and most importantly, it brings CONFIDENCE. Confidence in what we know, what we can handle, and what we can accept for ourselves in our lives. Aging is no longer something to be feared, or to be looked at as something that makes a woman of less value. In my opinion, it gives women more.
With growth and age, I finally realized that getting older will continue to allow me to get stronger, fiercer, and more confident. To be more bold: to “level up”. Growing and experiencing life is truly reflective of aging like a fine wine; it’s graciously increasing in quality with age.