I turned 40 this year! I’m so excited! I have looked forward to 40 for the longest time. Why? Well, it has to do with how I am perceived and how I perceive myself.

For one, I always imagined that once I’m 40 no-one would look at me like I’m a little girl anymore. Maybe then I’d be considered a legit adult who can say something worth listening to. Understand, I’ve always been small in stature. Combine that with being female…and I’ve also come to learn that my being a person of color disqualifies my voice in the opinion of some. This little black girl…hahaha…what thing of worth could she possibly have to say?!

But I’ve always had big thoughts. My brain bubbling with ideas and waiting for an opportunity to actuate them. Maybe as a 40 year old, I’d look old enough to be taken seriously.

Secondly, I’ve always admired the confidence and self-assurance that I’ve seen my elders poised with. The frivolity of youth never appealed to me. I’ve always aspired to the wisdom of experience. Maybe at 40 I could begin to benefit from the sagacity that comes with having lived a little.

So when I drafted this post, I was about a month and a half away from having lived 40years on this earth. Now, as I finally get ready to post it, I’m almost four months into my 40th year. How does it feel?

People still think I’m a little black girl, I think. I often find myself as the youngest in the room. Or the smallest. Or the darkest skinned. Or the only female. But something has changed.

I no longer see those things as an impediment. It helps that I work with wonderful people who don’t treat me as anyhow less than because of these things. And I’ve come to embrace the reality of who I am at the moment as an asset. My African upbringing and culture, my female perspective, being a mother of four—these things shape the way that I view things and in a conversation they bring necessary insight. I’m humbled to be able to contribute who I am to any interaction. I believe that any space that I occupy is enriched by my sheer presence and that is something to thank the Lord for!

Maybe that’s the confidence and self-assurance that I always admired. I thought that who I was would change and thus how I was perceived would too. But I’ve found that the externalities of my identity have not changed at all (well, at least not significantly). What’s changed is how I relate to my femaleness, my Africanness, my blackness, my smallness, my introversion…I’ve moved from being ok with these aspects of myself to celebrating them!

I’ve entered this year with a renewed sense of mission, and excitement for what lies in store. This year feels like a beginning of sorts. I like beginnings.