Happy Birthday

On Turning 36

I turned 36 on Friday. 

I celebrated my birthday by doing nothing. 

It was all I wanted – a day to do nothing. Working full time, going to school full time, and teaching Pure Barre several times a week means I don’t have a lot of time to just be. I decided to take the day off work, get someone to cover my Pure Barre class, and spend the entire day doing whatever I wanted – by myself. So I did. I slept in, went for a long walk at the beach where I lost my wallet (a minor hiccup), and treated myself to not gluten-free pizza and cheesy bread despite knowing there would be consequences. I watched a movie, stayed up too late, and had an all around good day, lost wallet and all.

But the days leading up to my birthday weren’t so great. 

I had what we will call for all intent and purposes a miniature breakdown. 

“I’m almost 36 and I’ve accomplished nothing.”

That was my mantra. 

The rational side of my brain knew better. I have had an overall successful run of things. I’m the first in my family with a college degree. I’ve traveled, tried on different cities, changed careers, gotten into not one but four of the top film schools in the country. I’m healthy, secure, have a good job, a roof over my head, two of the best dogs. But instead of focusing on that, I focused on what I don’t have. I’ll spare you the list, but it looks a lot like “single, renting an apartment, and not entirely sure what I’m doing with my career.” 

It was hard. 

I’m not sure why. 

36 isn’t old by any means. Most of my friends are within a year or two on either side of 36. Most of them are in the same life stage. We laugh and joke about how we don’t feel like we’re in our mid-thirties. We complain when we have our doctors bring up things like fertility and warn us that if we wait much longer, we’ll have “geriatric pregnancies” and “more difficulty conceiving.” We loosely discuss things like freezing eggs and then move on to the new lipstick we’re loving or the next restaurant we want to try. 

All of us feel ten years younger than we are. 

We’re in an odd place. We’re stuck between the generation that pushed to get married and have babies young and the generation that’s shirking those things in favor of careers on their own terms and all around adventuring through life. We won’t even discuss the fact that it’s near impossible for most of us to buy a home right now, or that we’re buried under student loans with all of these fancy degrees we thought we had to have. 

We’re not old, but by some standards, we’re not young. We still have hopes and dreams for the future, still believe (rightly so) that we have time to figure it all out. We’re (trying to) turn a blind eye to the family members that whisper about our maid status or gossip about “there she goes changing her mind again.” We’re still figuring it out. Or at least trying to. 

Turning 36 was still a mind trip knowing all of this and knowing that I have people who feel the same way. I probably never will know why I fought this birthday kicking and screaming. But there was no avoiding it and by the time my actual birthday rolled around, I embraced the day with the gratitude of an opportunity to see another year. 

Because that’s the real gift, isn’t it? Getting to mark another year? 

If you’re feeling down about where you are in life, know you aren’t alone. And that there is no actual “do by this age” stamped on the dreams in your heart. We’re not behind and it’s not too late. 

It is never too late. ❤️

On Turning 36

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