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40 is the New 30: From Fear to Newfound Appreciation

Getting older is something that we all fear.

But when I say "getting older," let me just say that when I turned 17, I remember this feeling hit me for the first time. 17!!! If you think it's totally ridiculous for a teenager to worry about getting older, I'd have to agree with you; however, I've always been the type of worry to worry and overthink.

Turning 30 was fun. These days, I feel like turning 30 is like the new 20 or 25ish. I was still in that party mindset, so I planned a big bash at a swanky spot downtown and invited all my friends (okay, more like just about everyone I knew, cause that's how I did things back then). I wore one of my favorite bandage dresses I was known to wear (the tighter, the better), ate lots of food, drank lots of wine, and took lots of pics -- that later ended up on Facebook, of course.

Erica Brooke at a club
My 30th birthday dress (though this was not actually taken on my 30th birthday)

Why can't I feel the same way about birthdays now?

I turn 39 on Wednesday, and I wasn't exactly looking forward to it -- apart from a nice meal, a nice gift or two, and well-wishes on social media. Plus, there's this whole pandemic thing, and birthdays haven't been all that exciting as of late. Yet, the underlying problem is this: each year that goes by being married, but without a baby makes me feel more and more like I've missed the boat. Not to mention another year for my egg quality to drop. And the fact that I'm already dealing with the struggles of infertility and IVF makes me feel like my chances get that much worse. When it comes to work and career, I'm also not where I want to be, but I've been taking small steps, since that priority has taken somewhat of a backseat recently.


The other day, I overheard a conversation at Wawa between two of the workers while I was getting my morning coffee. It was about how many of us aren't mature enough to be parents until we're much older, like in our late 30s. Being 38, this totally resonated with me. I so agree with this sentiment, yet the ironic thing is that although we may be more mentally and emotionally mature for parenthood at this time, our bodies have a different idea. They were totally ready to procreate while we were ready to party. Society keeps changing -- we place more value on education and career, and many settle down in their 30s or even 40s -- yet our bodies remain the same.

I hate that this is even a thing in my mind -- I've always been one with many life ambitions and goals, and though I wouldn't call myself a feminist, I always felt that I wanted more than "just" a spouse and kids. Though now I've come to realize that this "just" isn't always that easy to obtain.

Then this happened recently.

After I commented on a Facebook post about no longer looking forward to my birthdays these days, a friend of my mom's said something along the lines of this: "Just my two cents, but you should look forward to birthdays because there's always something to celebrate."

That comment hit me hard. I immediately felt guilty for even writing that comment. I thought about my sister-in-law's recent passing. She never got to experience 39 or even 38 or 37, for that matter. And I'm fortunate enough to have reached this milestone.

I'm not sure if God has been trying to tell me something, but the message has been made loud and clear -- especially after another recent traumatic event.

Two days ago, I was on my way to get my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (which was nothing, in my case, I'm basically a warrior these days as a human pin cushion!). A few minutes into the drive, I was side-swiped by a hit-and-run driver, and my car (well, my mom's which I was driving) was pushed to the side of the road. The bad thing was that the driver NEVER STOPPED, while the good thing was that both my mom, who was in the passenger's seat, and I were both okay.

We were pretty shaken up, and, luckily, I was still able to make my appt., only because we were so close to home that we were able to drop the car off and grab mine. And because the car was in the condition that we could make it a short distance! The two main thoughts in my head that night were 1) I really hope the cops can catch that a-hole and 2) We were seriously lucky that the driver didn't slam into my door and that we were both okay because, honestly, it could've been a whole. lot. worse.

So, as I approach my upcoming birthday, instead of mourning the loss of another year, I'm, instead, grateful that I'm here, that I'm healthy, and that I have a whole lot more living to do (plus, I actually get to see other humans for my birthday this year!).

And everything else will fall into place as it will if I just let it.

I'd like to tell my soon-to-be-17-year-old former self to stop freaking out, and I know my future self will feel exactly the same way.

Which birthdays have you struggled with, if any? What are you grateful for today?


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