Turning 36 and the Decade That’s Beginning to Define Me
Several of my conversations with friends this year have had a common theme: We don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough time to see each other or take a vacation or even get a decent haircut. Sitting still isn’t an option and a full night of sleep is often a luxury. And you may be thinking that’s because all of my friends are mothers, just like I am. But they’re not.
The common denominator is that we’re all in our 30s.
I’m turning 36 this month so now that I’m firmly nestled in my 30s and have made peace with it, I’ve decided that it’s one of the most transitional periods in a woman’s life, mainly because we’re questioning what we want. If we don’t like what we already have, we’re trying to figure out how to fix it or get rid of it. And if we’ve figured out what we truly want, this is the time to go after it and build on it.
It seems like when you hit your 30s, life gets a little more complicated because your decisions need to be more concrete. It’s not as acceptable to be bumbling around trying to “find yourself” as you were in your 20s and you’re not as sure of yourself as you hope to be in your 40s. The Thirty Decade is when we start questioning where we’re going in life, do we want kids, do we not, and if we don’t…what in the hell do we do with the ones we already have?
We start examining our marriages, if we have them, trying to make sure that what we have is really what we want for the long haul. And if we don’t have that life-long commitment, we begin to wonder why not and if it’s really worth finding after all. We’re looking at our careers, the jobs we started in our 20s because they paid the bills but now aren’t as fulfilling as they should be. And if we don’t have careers, we’re looking at our children, growing older and more independent by the minute, and wondering where we will be in the next 10 years when they’re gone.
It’s a complicated time of life.
But it’s exciting, too. It’s all about questioning. It’s about searching. It’s less about working with someone else’s agenda and more about outlining your own. In my case, part of it is showing my kids that, yes, I’m their mom…but I’m also a person. And then trying to show them (and myself) who that person is – because they’re old enough to understand the concept and I’m old enough to start figuring it out.
I’ve been surprised at what a transition I’ve been through in the last 6 years. When I turned 30, I cried for a month before. I thought for sure my youth was over and I mourned it. But turning 36 is different. Years ago, I would have never walked out the door without contact lenses in and make-up on. And now I think my glasses make my face look a little more interesting and I actually look better with less make-up. In my late 20s, I would hobble around in shoes that didn’t fit right but looked spectacular. And now I don’t want to miss a detail of life just because I’m thinking about how much my feet hurt. I work out to feel better instead of jumping on the scale to chart my progress, I read books that make me think about the big picture, and I have more elastic in my wardrobe than I used to. And I like it.
Part of my transition in my 30s was the loss of my husband when I was 31 and he was just 34. And the year I turned 34, I cried and cried when I thought of all of the things I would see from now on that he would never be able to. And while that has been hard, it has also been a reminder that I should never waste a moment of my time worrying about something as amazing as growing older.
Because age is something we earn. And we should celebrate it every year. And that is why, as I creep closer to my birthday this month, I have one thing to say:
“Bring it on, 36. I’m excited to see you and I can’t wait to be a part of what you and I accomplish before 37 kicks you out.”
Catherine Tidd is a writer, widow and mother of three. She is the founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick. She has been published in several books about grief and renewal and also writes a blog on anything that pops into her nutty brain called Bud Light Wishes and Cheeto Dreams.