Aging with Grace: Post-Birthday Reflection

My 30th birthday was well spent with lifelong friends.

Sierra J. McKissick
3 min readMar 15, 2024


I should start by saying I’ve never had a surprise, particularly a party. So, I’m not used to having people plan something I know nothing about.

I’m an event planner. I plan everything from conferences to dinner parties. At my core, throwing events and creating opportunities for people to gather is my heart's reward.

I’m not good at being the center of attention, either.
Although I can be entertaining, I enjoy being on the sideline, which is good.

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

It was an incredible trip, and seeing so many people willing to travel to celebrate my life was touching. That’s huge—at least to me. It is a gift when people choose to like or love you. Having a handful of people who choose to like and love me is incredible, which made our weekend getaway to Charlotte, NC, an incredible expression of love.

Being surprised did teach me a lesson I hope to leave in my 20s. As much as I think I’m much more flexible and can adapt to any circumstance, I still suck at it. I’ve gotten better, but I still really suck at it.

I never thought I would be ‘easily shocked.’ I can typically read a room, discern, and detect intentions quickly. But the surprise birthday party caught me off guard, and it took me a minute to shake the shock.

Now, I have one goal: to accept change gracefully.
This would be easy if I weren’t a recovering Enneagram 3.

If you don’t know what the Enneagram is and you appreciate the data that can be gathered from personality inventories, click here and take the test. Based on your type, the test will help you understand your cognitive processes, defensive mechanisms, and relational challenges.

I’m a recovering Type 3. After being in higher education for almost a decade, I realized I didn’t want to be achievement-focused. It’s exhausting. Since my departure, I have been a Type 8, also known as ‘The Challenger,’ and Type 1, “The Perfectionist,” is my current type.

Myers-Briggs: ENFJ
Love Language: Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Word of Affirmation (scored all 7s)
Color Type: Gold
Leadership Style: Collaborative/Transformational

Many people don’t value personality tests, but as researchers and practitioners, they offer a valuable starting point for considering more tools. The results of these tests have always helped me better understand others' intentions and the conflicts they experience.

When I’m stressed, I default to being a type 1. I will drive myself crazy trying to make something perfect. If I’ve constructed an idea of perfection, I won’t stop until I achieve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a website or cleaning my house. I won’t stop.

This complicates surprise parties in two ways: (1) I don’t have any control over what’s happening, and (2) I’m overstimulated or irritable.

The overlap is that aging is a surprise party. Everyday life is defined a bit differently. For example, since turning 30, I’ve developed dry skin and freckles. How? My body had a countdown and was waiting for the exact day.

This may be TMI, but you’re still here, so I will be completely honest. It’s crazy. This doesn’t feel like my body. For years, I’ve only gained weight in my thighs, and suddenly, my belly has decided to join the party. Looking three months pregnant isn’t my goal, so I’ve had to [really] start working out. It’s horrible.

Staying up too late or eating too much fast food feels like a hangover the next morning. It’s a whole new world over here. Also, my speaking voice defaults to an old lady whenever I do a drive-thru order. Seriously, who can read the menu? Clean it up. This isn’t a video game. There are too many images and graphics.

As you can read, I’m just aging right now. I have a few courses left in being gracious. I did have a fantastic birthday. I love my friends, who are as crazy as I am. Check out this Instagram post for photos.

This blog post was originally written in April 2020 on SierraMcKissick.com. It has since been adapted and edited for context



Sierra J. McKissick

I’m a writer and educator. I write about behavioral and spiritual health choices and inclusive creative strategies. @iamsierrajecre