I can't tell which one looks more frightening: the actual number 35, or spelling it out. Thirty five. Thirty five. Thirty five. No matter the font selection or caps arrangement, the words seem pretty aggressive to me, and I really don't appreciate the tone.
"Age is of no importance, unless you are a cheese," a meme smiles at me from my Instagram feed. I nod enthusiastically, desperately wanting to believe that it's true.
Part of me definitely does believe that hype. I don't feel my age, and often, I am assumed to be younger. (This is the ultimate compliment for me.) I've been working on controlling my reaction to this information because the high-pitched squeal and breathy laughter just screams you're older than people think.
But wait, back the f*ck up. I don't understand how I got here so fast. What happened to, I don't know, 1999?
(Side note: That was a pretty good year. I am excited to report that those '90s tattoo chokers are back in style. I rocked those b*tches hard back before #TBT was even a thing. I've so been waiting to "Angela Chase" all over again.)
As young as I may feel inside, the actual number itself is still daunting and odd. When my mother brought me into this fine ass world, she was 35 years old, an age that was considered too old to even have children. Now, I am roughly a month or so away from being the same age. While she had a house, a husband, three kids and a dog by that time, I often feel like my biggest accomplishment has been not getting pregnant.
I am pretty content with my life, all things considered, but time seriously seems to be slipping. So, let's talk about age, life and how freaking weird it is to get older and to be "old."
Aging is a topic I've been mildly obsessed with since I was 15. I am not sure what set it off, but I remember getting a bad sunburn and noticing how the skin crinkled around my eyes. Pointing out to my mother that I had wrinkles and that it bothered me, she rolled her eyes and told me to stop staring in the mirror because I obviously had too much time on my hands. (Burn.)
I've had this theory — this "timeline of aging," if you will — ever since, and I still believe in it just as much now. The first range is the stage of years where you have milestones to hit, and you are generally excited about getting older:
Ages 16 To 21
16: This is the year of your sweet 16. You're feeling fabulous.
17: You get your driver's license, and you're rolling down the street, feeling wild and free.
18: You're a legal adult. You can buy cigarettes, if that's something you're into (even though you shouldn't be).
20: You're officially out of your teens. It's a pretty good feeling.
21: Finally, you're legally allowed to drink. F*ck yeah.
What happens after this timeline, you ask? I'll tell you what. We're going to skip the entire 21 to 24 period, since this is generally a period of carefree fun and abundance.
But just like a sneaky spider, these years will catch up to you.
Ages 25 To 35
25: And so begins your quarter-life crisis. You might buy some books and Google the "symptoms of aging," get a cat (or three), purchase wrinkle cream and vow to begin a skincare regimen. (Seriously, don't sleep in your makeup. Stop it.)
26: OK, I may have overreacted about that whole "25" thing. I'm not super old yet, but I'm a little nervous because I am kind of creeping into my late 20s. Everyone around me is getting engaged and having babies. It's pretty weird.
27: Being 26 looks a lot better on paper than 27 does, but it isn't too bad. Your salary continues to fund the bridal and baby showers of your friends. You'll find yourself thinking, "Should I get married and/or get pregnant? Am I an adult now?"
28: You start sweating profusely once you realize you're a mere two years away from 30. This age is "late 20s" AF.
29: Only 365 days until you're 30. OMFG. If you're single, this is when you start to worry about whether or not you'll end up being #ForeverAlone.
30: It's really scary at first, but then there's this flooding feeling of relief as you realize you're the youngest of your decade. (Yes, it f*cking counts, OK?) Also, you really start to not give a f*ck about things that don't actually matter, like what other people think of you. Being 30 is actually kind of amazing.
31: What a f*cking breeze. Yes, you'd like to be 28 again (maybe 27), but overall, 31 is relatively painless.
32: This age isn't so bad. But then, you remember how close you are to 33.
33. Obviously, you're getting much closer to 34, which is close to 35. We all know that means 40 is looming. You occasionally think back to when you were younger (which was years ago) and when you thought people in their 30s were so old. Every so often, you panic.
34: This is a repeat of the countdown to 30, but you can expect the results to have much more of an impact.
35: In all fairness, I am not officially there just yet, but I feel comfortable in forecasting the remainder of this timeline. I can say from experience that 35 is basically 40. Don't even bother going through the justification of your late 30s. Who cares? You're old, bro.
I refuse to even discuss any other numbers. (I probably will rescind this statement a year from now, but that's neither here nor there.) So, there you have it.
I am now at the point of the year where I look at the calendar and acknowledge that my birthday is creeping closer. I gently ask myself how I'm feeling about it. (A one-on-one therapy session with your inner self is always a good way to check in.) I know I joke about my age most of the time, but I think I'm handling it pretty well.
Despite my timeline theory, I'm kind of thinking that your youth is definitely on the bottom half of the mid-life crisis, and I have a good 15 years until I really start to panic about the number that "defines" me. So, I guess the good news is that age is only as scary as you allow it to be.
What's the really good news about turning 35? You give less f*cks than you ever did before.