Hello world! I’m a Kansan living in London and brand-new romance author, and as today is my birthday, it seemed like as good a time as any to kick off my shiny new blog. As I’ve now entered a new decade that means my age begins with the number three, I thought it was worth taking a look back at some of the highlights from the last ten years. 

22: After months of listening to my fellow college seniors sign six-figure contracts with investment banks as early as Christmas, having my Fulbright application rejected, and lying awake at night fretting that I’d have to leave New York City and move back to Kansas indefinitely, my year of interning for $10/day paid off and I was offered a full-time editorial job at WW Norton & Co, starting just two weeks after graduation. I lived the first six months in constant fear of being fired, but by the end of the year I was breezily returning proofs, executing contracts, and drunkenly hugging people at the office Christmas party.

24: On paper, I had it all: great job, amazing apartment, solid circle of friends, and a long-term boyfriend who was probably on his way to proposing. But I couldn’t shake an underpinning sense of dissatisfaction, and I chucked it all in: quit my job, gave notice on my apartment, broke up with my boyfriend, and moved to London to do my MA at UCL. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and one of my best decisions ever.

25: Just eight weeks into my first post-MA editorial job, I realized that a career in publishing, though hard-won (see 22), was not what I wanted. I took a complete leap of faith based on nothing more than a general interest in people and a friend’s insistence that I deserved a higher salary, and completely changed industries, starting over from scratch in the small but fast-paced world of executive search and talent consulting. Four years, two firms, and what feels like several million candidate analyses later, I’ve never been happier in my job and can’t see myself ever being tempted out of the professional services sector.

29: My twenties decided to save the best for last, evidently, as 29 was pretty much wall-to-wall awesome! I went on an amazing two-week holiday to South Africa’s Western Cape; I traveled to Dublin to see my favorite crazy Afrikaans rappers, Die Antwoord; I pushed (and triumphed over!) my physical limits at the three-day BG Energy Challenge in Dartmoor, at the Survival of the Fittest obstacle-laden 5K in Battersea, and by completing my first half-marathon in Greenwich; I sold my debut contemporary romance novel to Carina Press; and I got engaged to my very own hero, almost nine years to the day from when we first met.

Personally, I’ve always believed that anxiety about getting older results from a youth-worshipping societal construct that not only pressures women to achieve certain false markers of achievement (marriage, kids) according to an artificial timeline, it implies that being younger is unequivocally better than being older. Feminist rage aside (ahem), I just don’t buy it. There’s not enough money in the world to pay me to be 21 again and to re-experience all of that uncertainty, personal discovery, and constant self-analysis a second time. My 30th year promises to be full of upheaval: I’ll be leaving my life in London behind and starting over in Johannesburg, changing jobs, buying a car and potentially a house, and getting married somewhere in between. Yet I’m looking forward to it more than I’m stressing about it, because everything else in my life – my relationship, my self-confidence, and my faith that things always work themselves out – is pretty much nailed down. That wouldn’t have been the case nine or eight or even three years ago. I’m secure in myself, I know what I do and don’t want, and I still get carded regularly, so all in all, a little agedness hasn’t hurt me one bit!

The last decade was great, but I’m ready to see it off. Sayonara, 29 – and roll on 30!