I recently turned 35. That might sound ancient to you or you might be thinking I’m still just a tiny baby. I feel both at times. But mostly, I love the reflection that comes with a milestone birthday. For me, the mid-30s has brought peace and reconciliation with who I am. I’m certainly not cured of worrying about what others think, but I’m more comfortable in my skin that I’ve ever been before. I appreciate that my interests, callings, and passions won’t line up with everyone else’s, and that’s okay!
At 35, I:
- can embrace rather than deny my love of The Bachelor and all of its spin-off shows. You want to take Bachelor contestants skiing? I’m here for it. A former Bachelorette wrote a book? I’ll read every page. I used to be embarrassed that I loved a shallow, meaningless reality tv show, but I’ve realized that’s exactly why I love it. Sometimes I need fun and light! Not everything needs to be a teachable moment.
- understand that I have a long way to go in exposing my own racial biases. And understanding that means I can learn and grow. Sometimes I can’t believe how long I buried my head in the sand! But I can move forward from this day and learn as much as I can.
- found a workout I actually enjoy! *because someone will likely ask: on a treadmill, highest incline possible (12 for me), brisk walk (4.0 speed) for about 45 minutes, conveniently the same amount of time it takes to watch This Is Us or two episodes of Black*ish. I usually break it up by slowing down to use free weights at commercial breaks and jogging a mile in the middle at a normal incline. This is when I do the bulk of my tv watching, so I actually look forward to my workouts!
- don’t have to be who I’ve always been. For years, I’ve told myself that I am not a disciplined person. But you know what? I’ve been doing that above workout 4-5 days a week for almost two years. It’s made me wonder how many times I’ve applied a label to myself that isn’t true. It turns out I CAN do a regular Bible study. I CAN keep a tidy house. Just because I’ve failed at something in the past, it doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish it in the future.
- count audiobooks as “real” reading. Listen, haters gonna hate but to me, listening = reading!
- reread To Kill A Mockingbird. I kept thinking, “This is SUCH a good book! Who should I recommend it to?” immediately followed by, “Of course it’s an amazing book. That’s why everyone was required to read it in high school!” Reading it at 35 allowed me to understand the text on a deeper level than twenty years ago. The themes are just as relevant today, as we wrestle with racial tension in the U.S.
- indulge in milkshakes when I want. Life is short! Milkshakes are delicious. (I think that’s my new life motto!) I don’t want to live in a world where tasty treats are forbidden. Fill up your plate at the party. Get the popcorn at the movie. Enjoy the delicious world around you!
- realize my college best friend was on to something in the apartments with her obsessive turning off of overhead lights in favor of lamps. We always teased her about it, but I have lamps in every room now, and I can’t express how much cozier and calmer it feels! Hygge for the win!
But what I’ve learned most at 35 is that I’m okay with not knowing everything. The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know. And that’s a freeing realization.