Today, I turn 40.

I’ve spent the past year+ facing my 40 fears to prepare for today.

On December 25th, I faced my 25th fear of singing, and sang in the church choir on Christmas Day.  The picture on the left is me smiling with relief when I finally finished and was in the van ready to head home. The photo on the right is me at 10 years old as a sassy 4th grader. I loved singing, side ponytails, and turquoise blue. (You can’t see the matching turquoise moccasins I am wearing in this photo, but they are pretty rad.)

In the 30 years between these photos, I have changed a lot.

Even with all the changes, I have realized over the past year. that I have faced my fears,  I am still the same Jen.

That is a comforting feeling.

I believe that people can change, and I have made a lot of positive changes in my life over the past year.

I have also grown to appreciate the essence of who I am, and remember to honor that spunky 10 year old girl inside me.

Last week, I was talking to my friend Erin about turning 40.

“Oh. It will be great. You know what happened to me at 40? I stopped caring what anyone else thought, and decided to do what makes me happy.”

I’ve been thinking about what she said since then, and how it relates to the journey I have been on this past year.  As I have faced my fears, I have realized that other people’s shoulds and shouldn’ts for me aren’t as important as being true to who I am, and becoming the person I am meant to be.

My word for 2016 was Becoming.

I worked on becoming a lot of different things.

A runner.

A writer.

A genealogist.

A public speaker.

A better daughter, granddaughter  and friend.

I think that the greatest thing that I have become over this past year, is a better version of Jen.

I have become more comfortable in my own skin. There are still things that I want to change about myself, and I will continue to work on those things through out my life. I am proud of who I have become over the past year, and I see possibilities for my future in a way that I didn’t before.

I am not the type of person who is content to stagnate. I seek personal growth and discovery.

Last year, I was frightened of so many things. My fears had prevented me from peace in my life. I was tired of being scared, and missing out on opportunities to connect with others and understand myself better.

I decided to face my 40 fears.

At first, it was smaller choices like facing my 5th fear. I decided to call  people on the phone, even though I didn’t want to. I was afraid because I couldn’t see body language to tell if the person I was talking to was interested in what I was saying, or if they wanted to talk to me just to be polite.

But, I did it anyway.

I still don’t love it, but I haven’t let the fear prevent connecting with people I love. I have made an active choice to reach out to talk to people I love more often on the phone, and in person.

Facing my 40 fears has made me love the parts of who I am that I am not always proud of acknowledging.

My favorite cake as a child was cherry chip with pink frosting. My mom would usually make it heart shaped since my birthday is right before Valentine’s Day. (Just like this picture of me when I turned 4.)

Not everyone likes cherry chip cake. Some people think that it’s too sweet, or too pink, or don’t like cake.

And that’s okay.

You don’t have to like the same thing that I do, or me for that matter. (Even though I think that you’re missing out on something sweet by knowing who I am.)

I am forty and I am fearless.

Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week- What will you do today that you are afraid of? Face your fears. It can change your life. It has changed mine.

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