Exactly Where I Need To Be

posted in: Birthday, Life 61 comments

I turned 38. 

When I was 25, 38 seemed old. It seemed far away, and almost like a hurdle to all the things I wanted to do with my life. At 25, I had plans to travel the world, meet interesting people, have experiences that would change my life perspective (such as running with bulls in Spain, or eat weird, bizarre food only found in the Amazon jungle), and ultimately, at the ripe old age of 30 (30!), settle down in my very own beach house, in an exotic country, and writing a book.

I would do yoga daily on my front porch, and drink decadent wine in the evenings. I would meet someone who would sweep me off my feet, and we would spend weekends at the opera, or deep sea diving. We would grow old together, and dote on other people’s children, because we would be too busy living our fabulous lives to have our own children.

I am 38. I traveled the world a little, I had a 10-year career in marketing and public relations that I’m very proud of, of which I was quite happy to walk away from when the time came. I did not run with the bulls in Spain, or eat anything more exotic than a century egg.

I did meet someone whom I married at 31, although he did not sweep me off my feet. It was more of a gentle nudging into a relationship that was full of hills, humps and wonderfully good times. We don’t have a beach house, we live in an apartment in a crowded urban suburb, where buildings outnumber the flora. I haven’t written a book, and probably never will. 

Most importantly, I now dote on my very own children. Children I declared I’d never have when I was 25, because they would ‘cramp my style’. 

I am lucky I did not get married before 31. I am lucky I had my first child at 33. I am lucky I had the dreams I did, because I would not be the wife, mother and friend I am today, if I had married the man I was with at 25. At 25, I was still finding my footing in knowing myself, and what I perceived to be my ‘world’. I hadn’t yet gained the patience, perspective or persistence I now know I need, on a daily basis. 

I am 38, and exactly where I need to be, with the people I didn’t know I’d dreamed to be with. 

Birthday quote

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the worldโ€™s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Womenโ€™s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesnโ€™t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • August 18, 2014 Jennifer

    What a wonderful post and a lovely shift of perspective with thankfulness abounding. Happy birthday! Wishing you a beautiful year.
    Jennifer recently wrote…Top Social Media Plugins for WordPressMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you so much, Jennifer!

  • August 18, 2014 Janine Huldie

    I am a year behind you at 37 years old and I know this feeling well. I am where I was supposed to be, too, but at 25 I wouldn’t have said the half of this myself. And you are also right at 25, I thought 37 was old, but now not so much. Happy Birthday to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      37 is practically young to me right now, hah! And thank you.

  • August 18, 2014 Tamara

    What on earth is a century egg? I will Google that after this. But mostly.. this. It’s beautiful. I remember being 19 and thinking 23 was old. 23! Holy cow. And I thought adulthood would be more cookies for dinner. Ok, I admit I do that. I thought it would be less?
    I feel exactly where I need to be often, these days.
    Tamara recently wrote…Scarlet Is In The Hotseat!My Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Did you Google it? It’s a Chinese delicacy, aged egg or something. The white is like a green jelly and the yolk is gross ๐Ÿ™‚
      Cookies for dinner work for ANY age.

  • August 18, 2014 Ann

    Congratulations on your birthday, and on a wonderful outlook on life!
    Ann recently wrote…Rain in Southern CaliforniaMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you so much, Ann!

  • August 18, 2014 Nina

    I love thinking about the twists and turns and what ifs . . . And wow– you have done A LOT in a decade! You’ve especially been busy since you got married!
    Nina recently wrote…Theme For Today Is The LastMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Yes, busy making babies, haha!

  • August 18, 2014 Mo at Mocadeaux

    Alison, this is beautiful. To appreciate how your life has played out even though it was very different than the plan you thought you wanted to follow shows such wisdom and great sense of self. So many people are too busy lamenting the “what ifs” or “I should haves” they don’t see the beauty and perfection of the life they are leading.
    Happy birthday!
    Mo at Mocadeaux recently wrote…The Princess And The FishMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Mo, thank you so much for your kind words and birthday greetings!

  • August 18, 2014 Rudri Bhatt Patel

    Perspective is a powerful tool. I love these retrospect looks at who we once were and how time evolves us in ways we didn’t expect. Happy Birthday, Alison. Hope the day was filled with unexpected good surprises.
    Rudri Bhatt Patel recently wrote…Recognizing the Beauty of the EarthMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you Rudri! The day was filled with surprises, not all pleasant, hah! (food poisoning, alas)

  • August 18, 2014 Allie

    Yes to this! At 39 I feel like I’m contemplating my age every single day. I too am happy I didn’t marry until I was 31 and had my boys at 34. This was perfect for me, although I too vowed to NEVER have kids. I wanted a yacht instead. Needless to say, I don’t have a yacht but I’m oh so happy – even on the verge of 40!!!
    PS – I think you WILL write a book and I can’t wait to read it!
    Allie recently wrote…The Rundown – It’s Baaaccckkk!My Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Ah kids versus yacht – who’d want a yacht? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • August 18, 2014 Jessica Smock

    I can’t believe that I’m 40 now! I met my husband at 31 and got married at 35, then had my son at 36. Now pregnant again at 40! Certainly not how I planned things, but I feel fortunate to be doing what I love with a wonderful family. There are so many wonderful, exciting things that happen in our 30s and 40s… I wish we could spend less time bemoaning getting older and focus on celebrating each person’s individual journey.

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      It’s not getting older, it’s just getting…. wiser and better ๐Ÿ™‚
      I think our lives took the paths they did because they were meant to be.

  • August 18, 2014 Chris Carter

    AMEN to this Alison!!! Happy happy birthday my friend!!! Your life journey is perfectly purposed for you!!!! I love that you embrace it all.

    Even when you have an entire beautiful and BIG world sticking out from your front.

    LOVE YOU!!
    Chris Carter recently wrote…Summer’s Grace for MomsMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU TODAY!!! Love you too. xo

  • August 18, 2014 Ginny Marie

    When I was little, I thought 26 was the magical age and I would have everything I wanted; a fabulous career, a husband, kids…now I’m heading toward 46 and it’s much better than 26 was! I was also pregnant when I was 38, and loved every minute! (Although I was NOT pregnant with twins.) This post made me smile!
    Ginny Marie recently wrote…Your Spin Cycle Prompt {week of 8/18}My Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      I’m glad it made you smile! I’m glad you are where you are and happy with that. Life is good!

  • August 18, 2014 Rorybore

    I would laugh in the face of 25 year old me, who was never going to settle down and get married and let other people dictate her hours. Ha ha ha!
    I am so glad that I had my 20s to be footloose and fancy free – I don’t think I would change a thing. But I definitely prefer my more “settled” 30s. And 40s are just…well, I might go back to my 30s – LOL.
    Rorybore recently wrote…Pondering: StandMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Yes, I’m glad I had my 20’s to do what I did, be with the people I was, went to places I did. Because I sure as hell can’t do, be or go just anywhere I want now, hah!

  • August 18, 2014 Kerstin

    Happy Birthday, my friend.
    I remember when I was 23 I said I didn’t want kids because I was already to old ๐Ÿ˜€ – then I had Pauline at 25… And while 40 is not the new 30, I would not want to miss a single year – we really do get better with age! xoxox
    Kerstin recently wrote…Coming OutMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you!
      Yes, we are like fine wine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • August 19, 2014 Jennie Goutet

    I’ve eaten a century egg! And I just wanted to tell you how much I loved this post. I loved both the dreams you had and the life you’re living now – so different, but still perfect for you.
    Jennie Goutet recently wrote…Vlog #2 – How to Scold Your Kids in FrenchMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Did you like it? Was it gross?
      And thank you, truly. xo

  • August 19, 2014 Allie

    Happy Birthday Alison. I love the quote that you share, it is so true. You are very blessed to be right where you are:)!

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Allie! I truly am.

  • August 19, 2014 Rebecca

    What a great birthday post! I had the same cramp-your-style feelings toward children but boy was I wrong! I didn’t even have style to begin with! And never say never, that book is going to write itself. Just you wait!
    Rebecca recently wrote…The Truth About Toddlers: They’re WeirdMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Ah the book. I don’t know. I truly don’t feel there is one in me right now. But who knows in 10 years, right?

  • August 19, 2014 Greta

    Perspective. You’ve got it, sister.
    Greta recently wrote…Project 365: Week 33My Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      At 38, I sure hope so!

  • August 19, 2014 Leslie

    I love this & that quote. I think I’ve finished most of my findings about myself. I’m just discovering things here and there. I find that I’m super comfortable with where I’m at in life right now. It seems like every piece has found it’s place. I hope your having a great Monday!
    Leslie recently wrote…The perfect way to decorate your childรขย€ย™s nurseryMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      That is an awesome place to be, Leslie! Good for you.

  • August 19, 2014 Robbie

    Happy happy birthday!! It’s funny how what you think you want is not always what you end up with-or end up wanting. My wish for you is that you are always exactly where you need to be.
    Robbie recently wrote…She Should Be HereMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      And my wish is the same for you, Robbie!

  • August 19, 2014 Christine

    Funny how life twists and turns, how we’re convinced that we do (or don’t) want something in our lives and then we end up right in that spot and it fits just right. I remember thinking that anything over 33 was old and yet, here I am too at 38 and I feel like it’s just begun. Happy Happy Birthday Alison!
    Christine recently wrote…PR = Personal RecordMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Oh yes, I get that feeling too. Especially since I am in the trenches of motherhood, and soon, newborn trenches (again). ๐Ÿ™‚

  • August 19, 2014 Jin Ai

    Time brings the gift of perspective, doesn’t it? I am glad I didn’t have children earlier too, when I was too terrified of even the thought of holding a baby and 10.00pm was an “early” hour to go out for a nice social. I’m pretty much zonked by 9.30pm these days, haha…..

    Happy birthday Alison! You have so many Wonderfuls in your life right now and here’s to many many more to come! *toast*

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      I never held a baby until my niece was born in 2007! I was always terrified I’d break them, and honestly, I wasn’t interested in children. Any children. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thank you!

  • August 19, 2014 Tove M Stakkestad

    Beautiful… I love it – I love your dreams, where you have been and where you are headed! HAPPY birthday!
    Tove M Stakkestad recently wrote…Pen > Paper > Heart: a Mother’s Letter to GodMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Tove!

  • August 19, 2014 Jennifer

    I think it is so true about life that we don’t really know what we need until we get it, and then we only know if we are very fortunate. Happy birthday, and here’s to many more years of getting what you don’t know you need.
    Jennifer recently wrote…14 Hot Lunch Ideas for Back to SchoolMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      That is so well put, thank you, Jennifer!

  • August 20, 2014 Carolyn Y

    I got married later too! I love your quote, it is so true.
    I hope you had a great day!
    Carolyn Y recently wrote…Chia Seed DoughnutsMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Things just fall into place, right? Thank you!

  • August 20, 2014 Jessica Dimas

    Love this. At 25, I thought I had so much figured out, but looking back I was just barely starting to get my footing. I enjoyed reading how much your perspective has changed over the years. And I REALLY love that quote!!
    Jessica Dimas recently wrote…The Blogger’s Digest #52My Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Jessica! Yes, at 25, I was really, really nowhere near where I should be. All in good time, right?

  • August 20, 2014 JDaniel4's Mom

    I think I ended up with people and things in my life much better than those I dreamed about! I am glad I had time before I had a family too.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…Cool Math Games for Kids- Apple Seed CountingMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Yes, me too!

  • August 21, 2014 Janice Trinh

    You’re so good with words, Alison. While others dread getting older, you look back with positivity and take us along with you. I wish I felt the same way. Sadly, I married early and had kids. I was just thinking the other day about writing a post about it too. Because now, I have to look forward to when my kids are grown before I can “find myself” and explore the world. Does that make sense?
    Janice Trinh recently wrote…#TimeTravelTuesday: VHS – Remember Those?My Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      I wouldn’t say ‘sadly’, because you will be there to celebrate all your children’s firsts right up until adulthood, without worrying about being ‘too old’ ๐Ÿ™‚ And you can most definitely step out and do your thing at a still-young age when the children are grown. Just a different perspective.

  • August 21, 2014 Natalie

    You are 38 and fabulous friend! Hope you had a great one!
    Natalie recently wrote…Rainy WeekendsMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      Aw, thanks Natalie!

  • August 23, 2014 Elaine A.

    I just love that you are happy where you are now, even though it is different than what you envisioned back then. Of course I am pretty sure that is how it turns out for a lot people. And that’s pretty wonderful. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Elaine A. recently wrote…I’m Such a Good MomMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      It is, isn’t it? Things could have gone very differently if I’d made different decisions back then. Glad I took the path I did.

  • August 23, 2014 Roshni

    Being content with where you’re at is the best thing that could happen to anyone! How many people crave to be in the same place! Sending you belated birthday wishes!
    Roshni recently wrote…Hindu widows in India: food restrictionsMy Profile

    • August 25, 2014 Alison

      It is, and thank you so much!

  • August 25, 2014 Naureen

    Happy Birthday! Such an amazing post. We should always count our blessings. Lots of best wishes!

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Alison Profile PictureI'm Alison. Writer, a mother of four (two boys and boy/ girl twins), social media enthusiast and book lover. A believer in the power of chocolate and hugs. Chugging coffee as I type. Want to know more?

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