I turned 35 last week.
In the months leading up to 35, I was essentially in denial of my upcoming birthday.
Whenever talk of birthdays came up in conversation, I would reluctantly state, “I’ll be 35 in October.” I cringed every time I said it. Even when others complimented me by saying, “you look so young, I don’t believe you,” I still cringed. I don’t think I believed me, either.
Anytime I thought of my impending birthday, I was filled with anxiety and disappointment.
Then, as the anxiety accumulated the week of my birthday, I had an emotional meltdown. I displaced tears and outbursts of emotion onto others, and I wouldn’t admit to myself where they were coming from.
In my heart were stings of disappointment in myself. I had been telling myself I should have more life achievements by this birthday:
A chosen career.
The negative self-talk was really effective…. in making me feel miserable!
I woke up the morning of my 35th birthday and was greeted by my partner (who happens to be younger than me). In one hand he was carrying a birthday cake with a single candle lit, in the other a fresh soy latte. As he sang the happy birthday song, he smiled at me from cheek to cheek.
In that moment the anxiety began to fade.
It continued to fade as my 35th birthday carried on. I happen to have a twin brother who is experiencing the same milestone birthday as I am, and it helps to share it with him. He has a beautiful house, an amazing wife, two wonderful children, and a stable career – I couldn’t be more proud of him! Seeing him happy is one of my life’s greatest blessings.
You see, I realized that I already have my own versions of those achievements – house, marriage, career, child.
I live in a house, and together my partner and I have transformed that house into our home. I travel around the world and experience different cultures and stay in all sorts of different houses.
I’m not technically married, but I see my partner as my lifelong companion.
I’m surrounded by children every day as a teacher and often take on a motherhood role.
I have a stable job and the flexibility to create a career I love.
For the first time, I saw “35” printed next to my age yesterday. You know the shock and disbelief when you see that number for the first time after a birthday? I felt it. However, it was temporary and it’s gone now.
As I imagine what my 35th year may entail, now I am filled with wonder and excitement. What a fool I was to cringe at 35. My life is different than I ever thought it would be. And in every single way, it’s better.
I am 35. And I love it.
After all, age is just a number.