This morning I read an article on Huffington Post, This is 38. It didn't sit right with me. Not because her reality wasn't truthful, but it was so different than my own reality. So, on the edge of my 35th birthday, I thought I'd write my own version. (And, a note to the grammar police, I decided to write 35 instead of thirty-five.)
This is 35
35 is rejections you thought would be over by now keep coming. It is losing the job that looked so impressive on paper. It is realizing that you hated your boss anyway. It is wondering where that perfect job you worked so hard to have will jump in your lap. At 35, looking towards 40 is much more appealing than looking backwards at 30. Being 25 sounds awful. Getting carded is no longer fun; it’s just confusing.
Being 35 means leaving your old life and starting another. It means ex-husbands and anger. Missing children and sadness. It means that being the First Wife is a much happier life than being the Forever Wife. 35 means finding the friends you only dreamed about, feeling comfortable in your own skin, and learning you don’t have to talk to everyone- especially the ones you dislike. 35 is the great art of saying no.
Happiness is nothing like you imagined it. Sorrow is more likely to come from the days and days without your children than being stood up for a date. It also means that you still stay out late with your friends, drink too much sometimes, but feel much worse with a hangover.
35 is learning the curves of someone else’s body. It is the kind of confusion you missed in your twenties because you were already married. It is wondering if you’ll ever have another baby because time is ticking away and you can’t wrap your head around someone new and baby-worthy. It is waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is cowering and crying and praying that next fight won’t come with silence, punishment or cruelty. 35 is not knowing what better looks like.
It is nights on the couch drinking wine with your best friends. It is brunch and bookstores. It is wondering why your new girlfriend doesn’t realize turning the heat up to 75 costs a crazy amount of money. It is breathing deeply, so you don’t get mad.
35 is letting your daughter sleep in your bed and overindulging your son with inappropriate video games. It is staring at wife number two unable to see why she is appealing. It is the realization that you wasted too much time worrying about the pretty girls. It is knowing she is nothing like you. It is wondering if he secretly hurts her too. It is hearing your three-year-old call some other woman mommy because she’s too young to remember life without her.
It is wondering what you ever saw in him. It is a door slammed in your face. A fight on the lawn. It is a judge. It is battles. It is freedom even when the freedom feels hard and scary.
It is seeing your parents in a whole new light. It is losing your last grandparent. It is arguing with your sister about your childhood and laughing at your ridiculousness. It is a large empty house that echoes when you walk. It is paying teenagers to shovel your sidewalks and jumping your car with your own cables.
It is wishing you hadn’t waited so long. It is bringing women together. It is knowing you aren’t alone. It is staring death in the face and living life anyway. It is numbness and madness. Desperation and exaltation. It is wonder and relief. Pain and chaos. It is shame and the need for forgiveness but not knowing where to start. It is desire and redemption.
35 is trying to figure out who the fuck you are and striving to find who you want to become. Because becoming isn’t over. Becoming is just beginning. 35 isn’t old. It isn’t an ending. It is just the beginning of joy.