Today marks our fourth edition of Inside Conversations with Dwania and I couldn’t be more excited for this piece. This month, I celebrated my 40th birthday and it’s been such a great experience sharing segments of my life with you these past few months that I am absolutely overwhelmed by all the love and positive feedback.

Birthdays are one of my favourite things to celebrate. Growing up, we celebrated birthdays HUGELY in Jamaica. Our parties were epic. In fact, they were known as "birthnight" parties not birthday parties and they involved literally everyone. All the children and adults would party the night way with food, games and music. Trust me when I say that memories were always created.

Looking back in time, I’d say my fondest birthday moment was that of my 8th birthday party. I don’t even remember what went down that day, but the one thing that stood out for me was the cake and that image has forever stuck with me, even to this day.

Nowadays, when we go through life changing moments that capture our attention, we tend to ask ourselves - “what could I have done differently to prepare my younger self for what was to come?” In this case, having hit that 40th mark, I look back and wonder - “what is the one thing that my 8 year old self would tell me now, knowing the type of life I’ve lived all these years?” Would she be proud of me? Would she think I made mistakes that I didn’t have to make? Would she see me as that strong Black woman I make myself out to be? Or would she be disappointed that I didn’t accomplish all that I had set out to do?

Frankly, I think my 8 year old self would tell me that she is proud with what I have done with my life. She would say that she can't wait to enjoy the journey that got me where I am today, because guess what? Life doesn’t come with a how-to manual, and at times, we just have to roll with the punches. Now do I think that I’ve lived up to the expectations set by my younger self? The truth? Not at all, but at the same time, yes.  When I was younger, I wanted to become a doctor because that was a profession that helped save my life. I wanted to be able to save others. And although I am not a doctor, I am helping others in my own way and that is just as important.

People in my circle have asked what my one goal is, now that I have turned 40. The truth is, I don't really set goals associated with age. My goal then was to make it to 40 and my goal now is to make it to 41. I have been asked if I wish I had done more prior to turning 40. The simple answer is yes. I wish I hadn’t focused so much on my career and had intentionally balanced both my personal and professional life instead. I most certainly gave into the pressure of having to succeed professionally. I dedicated my all to my career and it didn’t help that being a Black woman, I had always been told that I had to work twice as hard to get half as much. I lived through that experience and forced myself to work 4 times as hard in order to achieve what should’ve been mine in the first place. You may ask - was it all worth it? Truthfully, I'm not so certain.

Yet, I am very proud of where I am in life and I won't dwell on the what if's and the negatives. I’m focused on the now and what I have accomplished and I genuinely can't wait to see what else I will accomplish in this lifetime. So as I enter into this new chapter, I know that no matter how old I get, I will always celebrate life to the fullest, because there are many who will not make it to see my age.

Happy 40th birthday to me!

Talk soon!