I am thirty-four years old today. I used to think that getting older would be terrifying and awful, but it actually is pretty great. I feel like I’m in that sweet spot in life where I’m still young enough not to have a daily medication dispenser that is the size of a briefcase but old enough to stop caring so much about what other people think of me. Some of the things I do now that I didn’t when I was younger because I was too anxious and self-conscious include:
1. Leaving the house with my glasses on and no make-up. Which now happens pretty much every day. Ten years ago, I would have needed to be pretty ill to allow myself that freedom. Twenty years ago, even illness wouldn’t stop me from putting in my contacts and putting on my make-up. That is actually what I would do before going to the doctor to get a wicked case of strep throat assessed. Insanity!
2. Singing along to the radio with the car windows down. In my youth, I would have the music blasting, but a carefully cool and indifferent look on my face. Now, I belt out Taylor Swift and bop around in that driver’s seat happily. I’m sure the group of high school kids waiting for the bus had a good laugh at that sight, but I really don’t care. In fact, I’m happy to provide a little entertainment.
3. Speaking of the car radio, I don’t often listen to music in the car anymore. Instead, you will catch me listening to AM radio for the traffic, news, and weather reports. My teenage self would be APPALLED. I was always so annoyed when my parents switched to an AM station- um, BORING! But now, I find it so practical and informative that I just can’t resist it.
4. Ordering what I actually want to eat when out at a restaurant instead of ordering only a salad or refusing dessert because I wanted to be dainty and feminine. Fuck that! If I somehow find the time to get of the house for dinner, you better believe I’m ordering filet mignon with a slice of cheesecake for dessert.
5. Dressing for comfort instead of fashion. Ten, fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing running shoes outside of a gym. Now, I wear them on just about any occasion. I literally do not own a pair of high heels. In fact, the most uncomfortable shoes in my current rotation are the lovely new Birkenstocks I got for my birthday (thanks, Dad and Liz!) and that’s only because they haven’t completely molded to my feet yet.
6. Going to bed early. Back in my youth, I would frequently postpone sleep in favour of staying up late to watch another episode of Friends/Gilmore Girls/West Wing/Scrubs or to finish off the book I was reading. If I was planning an evening out, I may not head out of the house until 10 or 11pm. Now, my bedtime is around 9pm. In the summer, I am often in bed before the sun sets. I know that if I trade sleep for entertainment, I will wake up exhausted, grumpy, and headachey. That missed sleep is gone forever- there is no opportunity to catch up on sleep anymore. After years of the sleep deprivation that comes with little kids, I seriously fucking value my sleep. Yes, I have an early bedtime and I have no regrets.
So yeah, getting older is pretty awesome. All you twentysomethings out there, stressing about aging, just think about all you have to look forward to! I love this freedom to be truly myself. At thirty-four, I feel happy and fulfilled. I have a fantastic, loving, and supportive family. I have a job that I love. I can sing at the top of my lungs when I am in the mood to do so. My feet don’t hurt. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. Thirty-four is great.
My life at 34:
I love it.