Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Turning 36 Has Taught Me

Taken a week before my birthday
March 22nd marked my 36th year on this earth. I have learned a lot in my 30's. One of the things I've learned and embraced is that age is merely a chronological measure of your existence and is by no means a definition of who you are as a person. Leaving your twenties isn't a death sentence. Getting closer to 40 isn't either. There's so much rigidity in society with how we should be at a certain age, and I fell prey to that myself when I had my quarter life crisis at 25 because I wasn't married (actually, I had that crisis first at 24, because my sister had gotten married at that age and I felt I should be by that time, too). I felt some panic last year as I turned 35 because I was in a long term relationship with no sign of marriage in sight. Today I turned 36. I'm single, and I'm okay.

I've seen so many articles online that say "Things you should definitely stop doing/wearing once you hit your 30's" and I just wonder who made these arbitrary rules? A lot of them have to do with how a woman looks and that's just utter bullshit. Ladies, regardless of your age, be you. Do what you like, wear what you love, and if you want glitter and loud makeup, fucking go for it, girl. Why, all of a sudden, when we enter our 30's are we expected to shrivel up into dull beige beings with matching pantsuits? I rock business-casual Goth on the regular.

I honestly don't understand the phrase "act your age" either. What does  that even mean? If I acted my age I'd... have kids? No thanks. A former friend of mine told me on the eve of my (I think) 32nd birthday when my ex and I were trying to plan a trip to New York City with the express intention of clubbing (because I love techno and had never experienced a club before) that I shouldn't be concerned with going out and clubbing at my age. What? So wither on the couch and watch reality TV like you? No. Thanks.

One valuable thing I learned from my mother is "you're never too old." While there are times I feel like the oldest person in my degree program (I'm not) I'm at the right place in my life to go back to school. I started thinking about graduate school in 2009 (I couldn't believe it had been so long, I honestly thought 2012) but never made the leap. I wasn't ready, mentally or emotionally. I had work to do, and lessons to learn. Entering graduate school at 35 with a goal to graduate at 37 is right for me now. I certainly wasn't ready in 2003 when I got my Bachelor's when I didn't even know what I wanted to do with my life since I realized I didn't want to be a teacher 4 years into my degree. Now I know that in my heart of hearts, I am an educator, but not teacher material. My opportunities are limitless and opening up in front of me. I am in the right place, at the right time, for me.

So if we take anything away, remember that it's okay to be in your 30's and single. Wear the thing, have the fun, and live life. You're never too old to go after a dream.

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