Like many teenagers I naively created a time line of my life of when and where I would be during certain stages of my life.

My plan was to finish college and start my career as an electrical engineer by twenty-two. I was to be married at twenty-five and have the first of my three children by twenty-seven.

By forty, my ideal self was supposed to have her dream home, dream car and start vacationing around the world with her picturesque family.

I believe it’s safe to say life doesn’t always go as we plan.

In seven short days I will turn forty.

I am not married. I do not have any children. Nor do I own my dream home, yet. But, what I do possess is the most invaluable asset I believe every woman wants: self-awareness.

Author Stephen Covey defines self-awareness as: the capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine out thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies. Because self- awareness is intangible, my teenaged self wouldn’t have known to hope for it.

Honestly, my twenty five year old self couldn’t even fathom its worth.

Although I wholeheartedly agree with Covey’s definition, I would go step farther by adding that self-awareness is not only the capacity to view ourselves apart from the things we do, say and think; but it is our willingness to perform that separation.

Self-awareness is an arduous but rewarding process that leads us to our highest self and purpose. It is the process of coming to a clear understanding about who you are and why you are.

The journey towards self-awareness has no exact time table. Neither is it linear or fluid. It dares to ask the hard questions we pray no one utters and unearths every layer of microscopic debris that hinders our greatness.

I am entering this new phase of my life with a kind of clarity and confidence that only comes by what Iyanla Vanzant refers to as “doing the work.”

This “work” isn’t pretty and at times can be downright painful. But, this labor of self- love yields an endless bounty of joy, peace, passion and purpose I never imagined.

Becoming self-aware doesn’t render me perfect by any means. In fact it forces me to confront my imperfections and flaws head on with truthful analysis and thoughtful adjustments.

The vision I had for my life pales in comparison to the life I am actually living.

I plan to be married one day, but until then I am using my singleness as time to teach and mentor young women and girls. I haven’t birthed any children as of yet but I am an intricate part of dozens of thriving, loving villages that are rearing healthy, whole children.

And that dream home, it will become a reality; but until it does I will continue traveling this nation and as much of the world as I can.

I discovered that hated working in the technology field and later discovered a passion social science and literature. That said I have carved out a space for myself as a writer, community educator and inspirational speaker who works on her own terms.

Life does indeed begin at FORTY.

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