I was standing in the middle of the junior’s dresses section at Macy’s last night as my daughter determinedly searched for a dress to wear to her school’s Homecoming Dance, I couldn’t help but think of how this is not what 26 year old me would have imagined that age 56 would look like. I certainly couldn’t have imagined being dismissively waved off by a strong-willed teen girl (my teen girl) every time I tried to chime in. She, at 15, has a clearer idea of who she is and what she wants than I did at 15. Even, for that matter, at 26.

On the drive to dinner earlier that evening, we passed the building that used to house the place I was employed at 26. I reminisced briefly about those days. I thought to myself that if I could go back in time from age 56, I’d let that 26 year old know not to do one single thing differently. Not to make a single different choice and take every same diversion. That in that period there will be the darkest days you’ve ever been through. They. Will. Suck! But it will all be worth every heartbreak and triumph. It will be worth every second.

Because, in 30 years you will have an incredible life. One filled with friends you love, an incredible wife, a home you adore, and of course a wonderful strong-willed daughter who you love to serve and knows the damn dress she’s looking for and doesn’t need your help anymore. And you’ll be so happy and content with it all.

Here, at age 56, I know who I am (and I’m happy with him) and I know what I want (and I have it). It’s not lost on me what a blessing and privilege that is or what it took to get here.

Selfie of Me at Nina and Summit