Jenna turns 30

I’m not a fan of aging.  I have never been a person who couldn’t wait to get older.  I don’t ever think that life gets better with age.  I think wisdom comes from experience and in my 30 years, I’m more experienced in some things than others who were born before me.  I secretly pride myself in being the youngest in my circle of friends and I feel accomplished that I’m as far (or farther) professionally than those more seasoned.

So naturally, I did not look forward to the beginning of a new decade.

Milestone birthdays are a funny thing.  They set new expectations and come with a full set of stereotypes.  At 30, I should stop being frivolous, I should have clear direction and a few successes by now.  Basically, I should grow up.  But in a lot of ways, I feel like I hit 30 a couple years ago when I was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO).  A few friends actually said, “you’re not 30 yet?”  NMO changed me and although the physical changes were unexpected, the emotional maturity I had to find within myself was far more challenging.  Last year at Patient Day was the first time I ever met other NMO patients.  I met a few individuals who were a lot younger than I am and they gave me such hope and encouragement.  Even though one patient told me what she wanted for her birthday, which was for her Mom to let her get highlights in her hair like every other teenager, there was a quiet strength and maturity about her.  So as I reflect on 30, I’d like to think I’m ahead of the game, emotionally.  I’m already used to pill popping the same times every day, I already watch what I eat, monitor my sleep patterns and exercise – and I do that all without hesitation anymore.  I’m even better at saying “no” or “I just don’t have the energy today” without feeling guilty or frustrated with myself.

I still think I’m very young and I’d like to think that despite NMO, I still have a lot of life to live.  As I focus on the day after 30 and the day after that (because all NMO patients take one day at a time) I’m not looking forward to aging but at what I want to do next.  The top 3 things on my list: build a bigger family, start my own business and travel to Indonesia to learn about my heritage.

Oct 2011

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