Hello Me, At 41 I’ve Just Met the New Me

And she’s a loaded toast!

Nonggol Darapati
7 min readMar 23, 2024
Image courtesy: Pexels

This week, I celebrated my birthday. Age-wise, I’m 41. Inside though, I don’t feel a day over 27. But what hit me was the realization that I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago or even last year when I hit the 40-year milestone. In one year, we can transform into being a new person.

After four decades in the same body, I feel the need to meet myself and get reacquainted with the new woman I’ve become this year.

This person I wake up to and see in the mirror every morning is not the same person I said good morning to every day last year. Have you ever had that feeling? That you’re you, but not you. At least, not the you that you’ve lived with all these years. I’m not just talking physically, but mentally and emotionally.

Every year around my birthday, I take time to look back and ponder who I am, who I’ve become, and who I want to be. This year surprised me the most because the transformation has been staggering. I have become the exact opposite of who I was!

These are some things I’ve recently learned about myself:

I need my coffee with milk and sugar

I need my café latte before I start my day. Everyday. Caffeine, sugar, and dairy are not the healthiest combination, but I can’t help it. It calms me down and prepares me for my day. Although I have tried healthier alternatives such as oat or almond milk instead of dairy and replacing sugar with honey or stevia, it’s just not the same. My daily morning café latte is my guilty pleasure.

I’ve jumped on so many healthy bandwagons throughout the years such as starting the day with Matcha latte or tea with milk, like I’m a member of the Bridgerton clan.

I’ve tried the popular warm water with lemon, plain black tea, and anything to stay away from the goodness that is Café Latte with full cream milk in the morning but nothing worked.

After years of experimenting, at 41, I’m throwing in the towel. I like my Café Latte with full cream milk and sugar and now I’m committed.

I am now a reader (a.k.a Bookgirly)

This came as the biggest shock to me.

I was raised with two beliefs about books. Firstly, that they are just dust collectors and secondly, that reading is a waste of time

It takes at least 7–9 hours to read a 300-page novel in one sitting. If you break it down to only weekends or an hour now and then, the time needed to complete one book quickly turns into a full month. There are so many other productive things that a person can do with those 9 hours in a month.

Ironically, I got back into reading thanks to #BookTok on TikTok. Prior discovering #BookTok last year, I hadn’t picked up a book in almost 20 years. Any reading that I did was for professional purposes, such as educating myself through publications like Time magazine and National Geographic, and reading novels by award-winning authors like Amor Towles. Reading felt like a chore rather than something enjoyable, but that all changed last year.

Previously I would obtain information through TV shows, television practically raised me and made me the person I am today (along with my 7 foreign accents that I’m capable of doing). But lately, I have noticed a decline in the quality of the shows that are being produced. There are just too many reality shows, ranging from house flipping and bake-offs to petty drama among the rich and famous. Unfortunately, these shows lack the substance, values, and inspiration that used to make TV so great. Which is why I’ve switched to reading more.

#BookTok introduced me to a literary world I’ve never known before. In 20 years, many new authors have come up with an array of novels that did not exist previously. But my favorite part about reading is that it brings me hope for a better today and tomorrow.

I’ve reached a point where I’m thinking of buying an e-reader. Who am I even? The woman who hasn’t picked up a single book in 20 years is now considering buying an e-reader and reads every single day. I hardly recognize myself.

I pray and read scripture (a lot)

During the pandemic and social distancing era, some people started baking Sourdough bread to pass the time. I, on the other hand, started reading scripture, on overdrive. I wanted to discover the secrets of the universe. Or at least part of it.

I wanted to know what humanity did so wrong that God or the Universe had to punish us with a virus that was similar to the plague and Passover at the same time. In the days of Moses, people were saved by putting a lamb’s blood over the entrance of their doors. During COVID, people had to wear masks to stop from getting and transmitting the disease.

I promised myself that before my time came, I would finish reading the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an cover to cover.

Considering I never even opened the Bible once in my life before this, this was indeed a big step! Today, after nearly two years of reading scripture, it has become my daily morning ritual.

After all that reading, I’ve come to realize that Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun. All of our successes and failures are the same as they were three thousand years ago. The only difference is instead of a prize Camel, we now have a prize Rolls Royce to show that we’ve made it in the world.

Realizing how much we have progressed and accomplished in this world, yet still struggling with the same issues as our forefathers, has humbled me. Reading scripture has reminded me that ultimately, there is a greater power than ourselves that governs the universe, and that this power is also greater than us.

And so I pray, incessantly. I pray for a better today, a better tomorrow, and the strength to face what may come.

Slow to anger and to react

After 41 years around the sun, I’ve finally realized that not everything needs a response or a reaction. It’s ok to be the villain in somebody else’s story and to let them have their own opinion of you. No matter what we do or say, we can’t change other people’s opinions of us.

Furthermore, anger is an exhaustive emotion. That saying having a chip on your shoulder tires you out!

I realize now that my anger stemmed from feeling hopeless and helpless. Helpless that I can’t change things happening around me and to me, because I don’t have the right resources, connections and wealth. And hopeless because if someone as determined as me can’t even change my own life, then what hope is there in the world.

After experiencing the COVID pandemic and seeing how many influential people around me lost their health, power, and wealth, humility has set within me.

Having this belief has made me slow to anger. At the end of the day, I now know that although things may not go my way, things will always go the right way. It is the order of things, the law of nature, and the way the universe balances itself.

Realizing I don’t have to be the hero in my story brought me peace. This in turn has stopped me from reacting to situations that are beyond my control.

Looking back, everything that went wrong in my life, the more I struggled to fix it, the more it became like quicksand. Sucking me into the portal of the abyss. But when I surrendered, being at peace. Things have always worked out far better than how I hoped.

Am I completely at peace with everything going on right now in my life? No. But I’m getting there and I think that’s a good first step.

I’m more in touch with my feminine energy

Being raised by a single mother left no room in my life for weakness. The world is a cold and cruel place for single mothers. For years I had to survive in a man’s world. Rely on my masculine energy to survive and essentially be the man that was missing from my life. Whether it be a father figure, a husband, a brother, or an uncle, I had to be the man I needed in my life.

After being inspired by Gen Z, who advocate for work-life balance, mental health and support, I realized that it’s okay to ask for help and prioritize self-care as a woman.

This is the opposite of my previous mantra “Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you”. I’m embracing my feminine energy because I’ve earned it.

I have spent more than three decades proving my worth by operating in my masculine energy. I have worked with some of the world’s best companies and individuals, I am fluent in three languages, and I put myself through school while working full-time and caring for a critically ill parent.

However, I have come to realize that there is nothing wrong with asking for help when we need it.

As I woke up this morning, I read that Catherine, the Princess of Wales, has cancer and is currently undergoing preventative chemotherapy. This news hit me hard as it reminds us of how fragile we are as humans.

Even a physically fit Princess who has the best access to everything in the world is not immune to cancer and what fate or destiny has in store for her. Even a Princess cannot fight the higher power that looms above us all.

As I ponder about the last 41 years of my life, today, I am reminded that we never know what is around the corner and what tomorrow may bring. It could be a cancer diagnosis, a winning lottery ticket or even the love of our life.

At 41, I’m beginning to understand what the real meaning of life is. All the other stuff going on is just fluff.

Right now, I have a triple layer chocolate fudge cake waiting with my name on it. And that’s enough for me.