So I’m going to be 35 this year. That feels symbolic somehow, and yet it also seems hardly worth mentioning. Oh sure, I’ll finally be eligible to run for president (because, obviously, that was something I was seriously considering), but other than that, there’s nothing especially interesting about turning any particular age anymore (until I turn 40, at which point I am sure I will FREAK THE FUCK OUT … or I’ll believe that 40 is the new awesome age to be – whichever). But I have to say that 35 sure doesn’t look anything like what I thought it would.
Age 35 – How it feels to me now
Gosh I am young. Sooooo young! I feel vibrant and youthful and okay, yeah, sure, coloring my hair is no longer so much of a fun, whimsical experiment as it is an absolute necessity to hide those gray pieces that keep popping up. But, other than that, I am totally, totally just as awesome as ever. I go out with my friends, we stay out to the crack of 11:30 sometimes, and we drink, laugh, party – you name it. This is an awesome age to be. I’ve finally worked myself up to a stable point financially, I’ve got a long-term meaningful relationship, a good job and a big ol’ house with my very own swimming pool. It’s pretty much the best time ever.
Age 35 – How it thought it would feel 20, or even 10, years ago (and how I assume anyone under the age of 29 feels about me now)
Oh my gawd, 35 is soooo old. Ancient! Pretty much your whole life is over. You’re so lame, you don’t like anything cool and, worst of all, you still try to BE cool – you think you’re cool, and that makes you even more lame! You have this totally boring life where all you do is pay bills and save for retirement and mow your lawn. Yawn! You go out to dinner like once a week and you think it’s like the highlight of your life … and I guess it is because other than that all you’re even doing is working at that lame office job of yours. Thank gawd I’m not that old!
Obviously my perception of 35 had changed quite a bit but I know that, for others, their feelings on the matter have not. Just this week a girl (and no, in this case I refuse to use the term “woman”) in my office consulted with me on some copy – she wanted to know if the writing was “too modern” for her audience, who she described as “stuffy” and “old.” When I asked her “how old exactly?” her response was “oh, you know, mid-30s.” Somehow I managed to stifle the words that wanted to come out of my mouth (“You better back the fuck out of my office right now you smug, fat-ass whore!”) and replied with a tight-lipped “Oh, I’m sure they’ll manage.” And this is hardly the only occasion. More than one 20-something in my office has made the shocking realization that I am 30-something and remarked “I had no idea! I totally thought you were my age!” And I’m sure that in their mind this was a compliment as to how young I look for someone of my advanced years – gee… thanks… how kind of you. Let me tell you what you can do with that “compliment” of yours … Plus there was that one time, 5 years ago, when I was at a club (yes, a REAL club) and some boy (again, I refuse to use the word “man” in this instance) danced on up to me and flirted for awhile before asking me for my age and, upon hearing me reply “30,” not so stealthily danced backwards away from me.
And, hey, look – I get it. I sat in my high school sex ed class at age 15 and heard the teacher explain that men reach their sexual peak at age 18 whereas women don’t reach theirs until their mid-30s (finally my time has come!!! Watch out world!) and thought – “That is soooo unfair! I’ll be all old by then and I won’t even CARE about sex anymore.” (Dear lord in heaven above can someone please smack teenage me right across her stupid little face?) So I know … I know how the world sees a woman of “my age.” But I promise that I don’t own a single pair of pants with an elastic waistband, I don’t live for driving my imaginary kids to soccer practice, I do have actual friends with actual interests who I spend actual fun times with, and, I assure you, I do still know what’s “in” and what’s not (it’s just that I don’t care about Bieber and Selena’s relationship and I don’t think that One Direction is a legitimate band to listen to).
And, you know what, looking at my Facebook friend list – people I knew in high school, college classmates, you name it – I am surrounded by the status updates and photos of many people my age. And it’s amazing the different life stages we’re all in – married for 10 years with 3 kids, divorced with a kid in high school (HIGH SCHOOL! Okay, that does blow my mind I must admit), divorced and remarried with kids of all different ages, newly married with no kids (like me), single and ready to mingle, corporate exec, middle management, blue collar, self-employed, PhD, back in school – you name it. And while it totally amazes me that we can all be the same relative age and yet have taken such vastly different paths, what we do share in common in that very few of us look the way I thought 35 would “look” (okay, there are SOME exceptions but, come on, that’s just the law of averages). And 35 certainly doesn’t feel how I imagined it would at all.
In fact, it pretty much kicks ass. It’s a Hell of a lot more satisfying than 25, that between time when you no longer find pleasure in all those things you thought were awesome in college but are desperately still clinging to them in a fruitless effort not to grow up while, at the same time, trying to establish yourself in your career, striving to be taken seriously, paying your own way for what could possibly be the first time with a far-too-small paycheck and are completely convinced you know everything (and conversely you believe that everyone else is a moron) – a misconception you’ll forcibly insist upon for sometime longer before realizing what an ignorant ass you were. And it’s soooo better than 15 for hundreds of reasons that I doubt I need to explain to anyone reading this (and if you are reading this as a high schooler you no doubt see this as some pathetic attempt for a washed up hag to justify her now meaningless existence … and that’s cute. You just keep thinking that …)
And so I say – bring it on 35! I welcome everything you represent. And to the haters out there – that’s fine, you go right on squeezing your butt into skinny jeans, blowing your whole paycheck on $30 martinis at the “hottest club in town” and fantasizing about the billionaire you’re sure you’re going to marry. I’ll be erasing all traces of my younger years from my record in preparation for my 2016 Presidential bid while enjoying that libido I was promised by my 10th grade health teacher …