A Break From Regularly Scheduled Travel Blogging to Bring You This Birthday Post

by Ekua on September 10, 2011 in female travel,inspiring adventurous people,musings

Earlier this week, I was flipping through the San Francisco Chronicle on my lunch break when an obituary caught my eye. Why am I talking about death in the week when I’m celebrating my birth? Well, hear me out.

This woman who’d died exactly a week after her 95th birthday was described as a “lifelong progressive, feminist and world traveler” — she sounded like a person I could’ve been friends with and a person who’d lived her life with purpose. Intrigued, I continued reading.

The obituary went on to say that after 40 years of homemaking and after her husband passed away, she started to fulfill her lifelong dream to travel the world. “At age 72, she she began a series of adventures around the globe, visiting 17 European countries, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and both poles, and nearly two dozen states in 19 years.”

While I personally take a “travel while you’re young” approach, I love to hear about and know women who are a testament to the fact that age doesn’t have to prevent you from doing what you want to do.

My own mother is one of those women. At the age of 56, she has very recently begun a Peace Corps assignment in Namibia. A few people I talked to about it assumed that the Peace Corps was only for straight out of college young people. It’s not. To me, in a time when people haphazardly sign up to volunteer abroad, she is an ideal candidate — someone who had a Peace Corps teacher as a child, someone who grew up in an African country, and most importantly, someone who has lived.

A couple days ago, I entered the last year of my twenties. Among females I know who are around the same age, there seems to be a bit of a divide between those who’ve hit the 30 mark and those for whom it is rapidly approaching. Those who’ve reached 30 and beyond have told me they’ve realized it’s not as bad as they feared it would be and in a few cases, it turned out to be exactly the transition that they needed. With a few exceptions, the women I know who are under 30 are fearful about entering their next decade.

It’s such a big part of female culture in the United States to look at age beyond the 20s as just an ending rather than a transition that contains both endings and beginnings. And those beginnings and endings can be both good and bad. Sure, as we age, unwelcome changes begin to happen to our appearances. But also with living, truly living, you can acquire the perspective and self assurance that is required to feel good about yourself despite what you think others think about you.

And that is a major gift of living fully and getting older — the increased ability to know yourself and grow into yourself and love yourself as you are. This gift is available to everyone, but not everyone receives it. In order to receive it, you have to be open to it, be aware of it, want it, take the initiative to find it.

I’d like to end this post with a video I came across the other day about some fearlessly fashionable older women in New York who display their personalities and creativity through their outfits:

“Young women, you’re going to be an old woman some day. Don’t worry about it. Don’t sweat it. Don’t worry about getting older. Every era… it builds character.”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlotte September 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Great video and great post! Felicidades, Ekua!

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Ekua September 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Thanks, Charlotte!

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Herbster September 11, 2011 at 9:09 am

Just got back to the world of the web after a summer in the wilds of Canada and caught up with your travels and insights. As usual your writings strike a chord that keeps me coming back. Your photography is great.

Happy Birthday!

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Ekua September 12, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Thanks for being so supportive of my blog, Herb. It really is very encouraging!

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Oneika the Traveller September 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

As a female who just turned 29 on Aug 30th, I get where you’re coming from. Happy birthday!!

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Ekua September 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Thanks and happy birthday to you too! I’m guessing that because we both grew up with W. African parents, we may have been raised with similar ideas about age. Sometimes it’s hard to ignore everyone freaking out around you, but I’m kinda liking the idea of turning 30, haha!

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hannahinhanoi September 13, 2011 at 3:56 am

Inspiring–both the post and the video! Your mom reminds me of my own, who is not a world traveler but who has always encouraged my sisters and I to look at life as a series of transitions rather than ends. Happy birthday!

I love your photos. Glad to know that I’m not the only one who takes pictures of architectural details.

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Ekua September 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Thanks! I think there’s so much to play around with when it comes to photographing architecture. Nice to hear from someone who’s also notices those little details!

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Phil September 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm

What an awesome post and uplifting post. And while it may directed a bit more towards women than men, I think everyone can get something from reading this. You mentioned your mom doing peace corps when we met in SF and I think it’s great that you have the same spirit as her. Looking forward to reading your writings when you visit her 🙂

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Ekua September 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Thanks, Phil 🙂 I can’t wait until I get a chance to visit!

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Sunee September 21, 2011 at 5:28 am

Belated happy birthday! Hope you had a fabulous time!

Although turning 30 was a huge milestone for me as well, I really only freaked out when I turned 25. Being a quarter of a century old (and going back to university where I was the oldest in my class) really hit a sore spot at the time. Compared to that, 30 was just a walk in the park (it helped that I spent that birthday lounging on a beach in Zanzibar though!).

I’m super impressed by your mother and, like Phil, can’t wait to read all about it.

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Ekua September 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I think here in the States, people look at 25 as a fun number, but after that, a lot of people start to worry about age. Zanzibar seems like it would be a pretty awesome destination for a 30th birthday. I will only be reporting about my experiences in Namibia whenever I get a chance to visit, but I think she will be keeping her own blog about it whenever things get less busy over there!

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Lola September 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Welcome to the 30s, Ekua 😉

The decade in which I call the “I don’t give a #[email protected]@# what you think about me anymore” transition phase, and when people finally sit comfortably in their skin.

Loved this post!

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Ekua September 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Haha! I still have a little under a year to go until I get to my 30s, but it seems like it’s not a bad decade to be in 😛

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