In a couple of days I’ll hit a bit of a mini milestone: I’ll reach the grand old age of 34 and officially enter my mid-30’s. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, or if I’d feel anything one way or the other, as I’ve never been that bothered about what age I am. I mean, I only ever really struggled with 27 and the reaching of my late 20s so far – but even that reaction was pretty tame in the grand scheme of things.
But it turns out I’m feeling pretty positive about my mid-30’s. It’s brought on a bit of an epiphany that was triggered by the thoughts and feelings which motivated me to write this post a few months ago. So, pals, let me tell you: I’m content. In my 30’s I can definitively tell you that I know that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone any more and it’s so freeing.
That may sound like an arbitrary statement, but it’s the simplest way I can think of putting it. Throughout my teens and 20’s I constantly felt like I was making excuses, justifying myself, and had something to prove: I’m a woman but I’m cool I’m ‘not like other women’. I’m poor but I’m not trapped here I’m clever I can get out. I’m in a shitty relationship but it’s okay we’re both a mess we’re meant for each other it’s *so* romantic.
I wish I could go back and have a word with myself: stop accepting shit, stop explaining, stop trying to prove yourself, you matter just as you are – but I’m proud that grew and learned and, ultimately, I got through it all. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to take as long as you need to unpack shitty experiences and ways of thinking and put your house back in order, so to speak. I regret a lot about my 20’s, I felt so adrift, but my early 30’s have guided me gently back to the shore and now – at 34 – I’m think I’m alright.
Am I a grown up? No. Most of the best people I know who are in their 30’s aren’t grown ups. I don’t have any of those signifiers that we interpret as having ‘arrived’ at responsible adulthood: I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t have kids or a career. I don’t know if I want any of them, tbh, and at 34 time might be running out for some but I’m pretty chill about it.
So, I’m writing this short ramble today – as I approach my 34th birthday – as a response of sorts to the post 3 months ago which started this particular batch of soul searching to begin with. Am I perfect? No. Am I happy? Not all the time. But I’m content, I’m at peace with myself – the good bits and the bad bits – and I know what I’m about, what I want to change, and what doesn’t need changing. This is something that my 30’s has brought me the luxury of time and space to realise. Being in my 30’s has, so far, been a whole other world and I’m grateful. It is what it is.