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 40 Over 40 for 2024
Naomi Takahashi



"Trust yourself; don’t let others doubt who you are and what you believe. You are unique and awesome in your own way. You’re exactly what the

world needs.

Continue spreading kindness, and it’ll encourage others to

do so as well."

AGE: 42

PROFESSION: Safety Manager

What is the best thing about being your age?

No longer letting external voices impact how I feel about myself! When I was younger, I gave a lot of weight to negative, judgmental comments from adults. Now I know better, and see them for what/who they are.

What hardships have you endured that you feel have made you stronger?

Growing up, I had to withhold a lot of my emotions and opinions. I also had a dance teacher who was verbally abusive. It was cultural, generational, and familial – we were expected to obey out of respect, even if our opinion differed. I’ve always been a free spirit, so this was restricting to say the least.

I often felt confused, conflicted, and alone. I conformed and people-pleased out of need, but decades later, I realized that my intuition was valid.


The emotional suppression took a toll on my mind and body. However, this awareness has played a huge role in my healing. I have dance (and laughter) to thank for keeping my spirits up! I truly embrace the importance of self-expression and energetic release as we all navigate through individual and global hardships.


What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

One of my most memorable experiences thus far was the 6 weeks I spent living in a tent on the western Aleutian Islands for archaeology. It was the summer before my senior year of college, and the trip was sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI). I had spent my anthropology fieldwork hours in a basement lab, analyzing sea mammal bones from various Alaskan sites, so it was a dream to see the landscape beyond labeling and cataloging in Excel. My classmate and I learned everything on the spot – from surveying and mapping, setting up the grid and excavating, washing bulk samples, cataloging artifacts, to camp cooking duties. The team was composed of research/faculty archaeologists, biologists, and a geologist who were seasoned pros, and entrusted us to try everything despite our inexperience. It was the most exhilarating learning opportunity, both academically and in life.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being immersed in nature, engaging the senses (i.e., food, music, feeling of sand or blanket on the skin, creating with our hands), being inspired, not being rushed… Basically a combination of nature, people, animals, physical comfort/safety, and experiences.

What is a trait you are most proud of?

I love getting to know the essence of each person. I can easily identify their strengths and talents. I’m also an authentic “hype person” if you ever need a cheerleader!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Trust your instincts and be unapologetically you! Voice your opinions because your ideas matter. Establish healthy boundaries and prioritize your wellness. You’ll thrive with your chosen tribe. And it’s absolutely okay to leave a situation, dance school, job, or relationship that no longer supports you. Everything will work out for the better!

What is your motto or favorite quote?

Be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported.

“[Y]our real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

– Toni Morrison

Words of wisdom to younger women

Trust yourself; don’t let others doubt who you are and what you believe. You are unique and awesome in your own way. You’re exactly what the world needs. Continue spreading kindness, and it’ll encourage others to do so as well. We often just need ONE person to believe in us. I’m so thankful for the handful of female role models I met when I was young and unsure of myself. They helped shape the vision of what I can be and how I’d want to show up for others. You never know when you’ll be that person for someone else!

Additional thoughts....

There is nothing scary about aging. There is always so much to discover. If anything, I’m excited to see where the next stages take me!


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