I turned 33 a few days ago and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel the need to declare that I am old, because I don’t actually feel old. Yes, one of my knees makes a cracking sound that gives my Pilates instructor the heebie-jeebies whenever I’m on the reformer, and yes, eating a piece of bread now seems to make me put on 2kg overnight – and yet, I’m perfectly content where I am in my life right now.

I’m not going to lie — I balk at the idea of celebrating a “forever 29th” birthday every year, as though turning another year older is so awful. My last whirl around the sun wasn’t a walk in the park — my father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away four months ago. A good friend told me that she saw losing a parent as the final stage of growing up, and it definitely has been. 

More than ever, I’m acutely aware of my mortality, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the past four months, as I wade through my emotions and the debris of death, I realise that while there will always, always, be a heaviness in my heart for my father, age has also given me a sense of reality, mixed with a strong sense of hope, a “can do” spirit, and a healthy belief in my own talents and abilities.

Growing older has given me a lot of things. Frown lines that Botox can fix is definitely one of ‘em, but also, perspectives and beliefs that only time and experience can cultivate. For one thing, I’ve learned to trust my own probiotic-fueled gut. Your intuition is something that has always been there, but showing yourself kindness and believing in yourself will help this intuition grow, and time and time again, whether in challenges as a mother, at a job, I’ve learned to be unafraid to trust my gut. More than ever, my gut is right.

With trusting your gut comes this next realisation — your level of IDGAF attitude is at an all-time high, and I suspect it will increase with age. And that, my friends, is extremely freeing. I spend Saturday nights inhaling some gluten-free tacos at home with my fine husband before retiring to bed and snuggling my one-year-old with my Kindle by 9.30pm. I cannot be bothered with underwired bras because they’re basically torture devices. And I will dress like a rainbow even if my 25-year-old colleague gives me sh*t about it all the time. 

Aging also comes with compassion. It starts with giving yourself a break — I had to give myself time to let myself heal and grieve this past few months. My fitness goals are important, but I knew that to be a whole, functioning person who has just lost one of the most important people in my life, I had to be able to deal with my emotions. And so my time to work out became my time for cathartic writing, some of which I’ve shared on Instagram. This said compassion also extends to caring for people — whether it’s people around you, strangers on social media, or on the street. People need a little love — even if it’s something as small as complimenting their eye makeup, or sending a friend a text to ask how she’s doing.

So here’s to growing older — who knows if I’m wiser, but I’m definitely a little more self-assured. With a lot more visits to my dermatologist for sure.

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