On the morning of my 35th birthday, I woke up and my metabolism, which had clearly been listening to too much *NSYNC, crooned “bye, bye, bye.” I’d always been active and a relatively healthy eater, but suddenly, being relatively healthy and staying active was no longer enough. Meanwhile, my friends who were having kids seemed to get thinner and thinner by the child. Just, how? And how was I, who had been single for so long, ever going to meet a guy if I wasn’t thin?
On top of my decelerating metabolism, I was waking up each day with new aches and pains. Was my body falling apart? It was to the extent that a couple of years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to have no major injuries or surgeries for at least one year. I’m happy to share, that was one of the few times I succeeded in my resolution. But really, what were all these aches and pains? Friends of mine who were over 40 informed me that everything starts hurting and it’s just your new normal. Great.
The final nail in the coffin of my realization I was getting older was when my little sister arrived for a visit in the US and surprised us with the great news that she was pregnant. I was beyond happy for her and my brother-in-law, but also questioned what I had done wrong and why my life was standing still while everyone’s around me was moving forward.
In my 20s when a few of my friends got married it was totally fine. There’s an open bar? I’m there. Fast forward, now those friends were having kids, my sister who had never even liked kids was having kids, and more friends were getting married…and I was still living in a one-bedroom apartment and my only responsibility was keeping my dog alive. Conversations when my friends got together changed from tales of nights out drinking to best parenting practices and what type of potty-training tactics were the most effective. I could only volunteer some of the 10,000 photos of my dog on my phone. She really should be a dog model.
I was actually excited to turn 30. I know a lot of women do not like the big 3-0 and would prefer to remain forever 29, but for me it was exciting thinking of entering a new decade, getting married, being successful in my career, figuring out my life, that sort of thing. Turning 35 was just a rude awakening that none of that had happened yet. I had a good job, but was it really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? Definitely not. I was still single with no prospects in sight. I had never really wanted kids, but now was realizing, that might not even be a choice by the time I met someone and potentially got married. I was feeling stuck and left behind as these things were happening to everyone around me. I thought that this might be the point where I should start buying cats and just face the fact that I was going to be an old, lonely cat lady with a bottle of Advil close by for all my aches and pains.
The funk that started when I turned 35 lasted another year or so. I walked around feeling like something was wrong with me. Friends and family constantly told me that no, I was smart, pretty, successful and that I would meet someone when the time was right. I started listening to a lot of self-help podcasts and reading books by authors in that space and believing what my friends and family were saying to me. And I started to realize that my negative attitude was not going to change anything. If I wanted change, I needed to make it myself. You can’t sit on your couch and wait for everything to come to you.
For me, this change was brought about by living life outside my comfort zone. I said yes more often, tried new things, met new people, stopped being so critical of myself, and smiled more. Everything didn’t change overnight, but how I experienced my life gradually changed. With this new attitude and perspective, I completed a Master program, opening me up to new job opportunities, and I met a fantastic guy who likes me for being exactly who I am. I found ways to exercise and enjoy it instead of just worrying about the calorie burn at the end, I met new people to add to my network, and I enjoyed new life experiences. I realized we are all on our own journey, it’s not a competition, where you are at any given time is where you are meant to be. Enjoy the journey.
If you liked this piece, be sure to check out What Growth Looks Like