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What Kind of Woman Do I Want to Be?

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Over the past few months, I have adopted a mantra for myself: "What kind of woman do you want to be?" It's something I ask myself whenever I'm faced with a tough decision, an out-of-control emotion or an impulse I know is unhealthy.

This Friday is my 27th birthday. That fact, in and of itself, isn't that important. I'm not one of those girls who dreads -- or even pretend to dread -- turning a year older. I like celebrating my birthday, and I realize that 27 is still young. Besides, I feel pretty accomplished for my age: I'm doing well in the career I chose for myself, I am financially independent and I have wonderful friends, so I don't look at this year as a depressing milestone, a marker of time that has passed, potential wasted or opportunity squandered.

But there is something different about this year. Usually, I start thinking of myself as older in the weeks leading up my birthday. When I was 25 years and 50 weeks old, I told people I was 26 -- it was more accurate and it felt right. It was an easy adjustment. But this year, I find myself hesitating. Whenever I tell someone I'm 27 it sounds odd -- somehow so much older than 26.

In 27 years, I've had enough experiences to know who I'm not, but I don't yet know who I am or who I will become. Perhaps 27 is just an arbitrary number, but I do feel like I'm at some sort of crossroads, a point in my life between child and adult, between girl and woman, between who I am and who I'm going to be.

And so I'm taking this birthday as an opportunity to think about that. To decide what kind of woman I want to become. I want to be the kind of woman who...

...listens to her heart but follows her gut.
...is slow to judge and quick to forgive.
...doesn't expect to be paid back.
...is happy for her friends no matter how she feels herself.
...accepts compliments and criticism with equal amounts of grace.
...listens.
...is patient.
...knows that heartbreak is a consequence of loving someone and chooses to love anyway.
...can say no to herself.
...chooses what is interesting over what is safe.
...understands that she may not be able to control the outcome, but she can control her reaction to it.
...always says "thank you."
...dances.
...counts her blessings.
...accepts that she cannot please everyone.
...is honest.
...makes a difference
...is always content but never satisfied.
...makes others laugh.
...greets every day with a smile.
...doesn't quit.
...trusts her own intelligence.
...looks people in the eye.
...gives good handshakes and hugs.
...is curious.
...makes an impression.
...enjoys each moment.
...learns from her mistakes.