Skip to main content

35 Great Things About Turning 35


The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
  1. You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.") 
     
  2. 35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time on small things anymore." Wise woman Esmeralda, another grad of our high school, puts it like this: "No time for half stepping. No time for games. You live like, 'Join my line or quit wasting my time.'" Amen, Ala! Artist Lisa affirms, "Don't really care what other people think of me anymore." (It really helps that Lisa has tenure!) Below, I am pictured roller skating with Lisa and her husband Jeff to celebrate Jeff's 35th birthday. With fanny packs and leg warmers. Because 35-year-olds DGAF.
  3.  You've finally reached full brain maturity. This explains your 20s. Forgive yourself.
  4. You can go vintage shopping in your own closet. All that hoarding finally pays off! Hey, if Rihanna is gonna wear dem pants, I'mma whip out my JNCOs. See #2 above. Wait a minute, it's not the same because I'm not Rihanna? That may be a bonus, because at 35...
  5. Harassment drops off faster than fertility. Sexual harassment, slut shaming, and fashion policing shrivel when you turn 35. Our esteemed POTUS explained it clearly on the Howard Stern show: Diaper babies and gross perverts such as himself seek extreme youth, apart from any measure of attractiveness, simply because young people's lack of life experience makes them easy to control. Ew! All kinds of bullies love victimizing young people, whether sexually or otherwise, like basic mean girls. Every human being can be harassed at any stage of life, but at 35, it lightens up. Or maybe I am just so blind and deaf with age that I don't notice it anymore. Either way, ahh, so peaceful. My author colleague Christina Mitchell has noticed the same thing. She writes, "The social currency of fresh youth doesn't jingle in my pockets, so no one really cares how I look or dress, or if they do, they keep it to themselves, which is fine by me." 
  6. The peanut gallery quits heckling you about "success." By 35, you've either gotten rich and famous or you haven't. Now it's too late--in general opinion. It's nice to be able to do what you want, at your own pace, without unsolicited advisors breathing down your neck. And if you actually want to get rich and famous, you have many decades ahead of you to find the right moment to leak that GILF tape and go viral. Or, you  know, go back to school. Whatever coats your moat. Fewer people push you to do things, and fewer people try to stand in your way either, because...
  7. Today's adults are uncomfortable accepting 35 as the beginning of "middle age." Older people don't want to make themselves feel even older by saying that, and younger people want their 30s to be a whole decade-long extension of their 20s. (It's totally not, thank goodness, but let them dream.) 35 is the sweet spot when you are perceived as both young and mature at the same time.
  8. Playing with children is now fun and non-threatening. You're living your own childhood dream! Whether they're yours or someone else's, it's great fun to be reminded of that time in your life when you thought adulthood would be the greatest thing ever--and realize that it's finally true. Meanwhile, it's becoming less likely that someone will compliment how you interact with children in a veiled nag to get you to produce one of your own or siblings for your own, because...
  9. Nobody's trying to plan your family for you anymore. Now that you qualify as "geriatric" or even "elderly" (not joking, and it applies to men too) in the world of fertility medicine, your mom and all your "moms" have probably redirected their awkward prodding toward some fresher hunk of meat. No matter how many kids you've had, from zero to double digits, people don't feel as entitled to get up in your business about it.
  10. But you still actually have time to plan your own family. Despite common misconceptions (oh snap, that was a dad joke) most of us have a good 10 years or more of fertility, especially if we can gain access to some younger gametes. (Sorry, it's true. We're all adults here, right?) And there may be other options available, such as adoption, that may have been more difficult earlier in life due to financial or other circumstances. And if you don't plan on adding a wee one to your life anytime in the future, then sweet, you can go ahead and put the cap on that epoch of junk-exploding childbirth, screaming babies, poopy blowouts, or the threat thereof. More doctors are willing to "fix" you for good at this age.
  11. It's not too late to make major lifestyle changes for your health. Beyond fertility issues, there's still time to improve your life's quality and expected lifespan. You're young enough that small changes can still have a big impact, and you're just old enough to feel the immediately dire effects of making a 21-year-old's poor choices. Ah, new motivation!
  12. It's exciting to stalk childhood friends and acquaintances on social media. At this age, some people look endearingly the same as they did in second grade, while others are unrecognizable. Your first super-stud-obsession now looks like Danny Devito, while that awkward girl who got bullied in middle school has become a swan so photogenic that she looks amazing in other people's candid photos, not just through the indignity of Snapchat filters.
  13. Some of y'all can still pass for 25 on Snapchat. I won't out my two friends, code names Macarena and Magdalena, who are still confusing the college kids and suffering the occasional shock of finding someone whose diaper they've changed on Tinder. They know who they are. They have mocked me for having neither an Instagram nor a Snapchat account and asked why, to which I replied, "Because I am an adult." Which they then snapped, probably with some ridiculous filter on my face that makes me look like an infant forest creature. Girl. Boy. You do you.
  14. Your life is probably not half over, so if you're a late bloomer, it's okay. I won't tell anyone on Snapchat that you could legally drink before me.
  15. You don't even need that filter, because your acne is finally clearing up, and your tiny wrinkles can still be erased with a touch of hyaluronic acid moisturizer. My adult acne is better than it was in my 20s, anyway. Maybe that's because I've discovered the miracle of retinol, which fights wrinkles and zits at the same time. With age comes wisdom about skin care products.
  16. Silver hair is en vogue. I'm rocking my roots like it's going out of style. But it's not!
  17. Leg hair is losing its grip. I was like a blond gorilla in my 20s, and now my leg hair has gone all soft and downy. It's easy to wax with those little Nad's strips, and it's also easy to leave alone, because body hair, like silver hair, is now en vogue. And also because 35-year-olds DGAF.
  18. You know how to save money. For example, spending less on hair dye and waxing kits.
  19. Those student loans are finally getting paid off. What will I do with all these hundos of dollars every month? Probably fix up my house, because...
  20. Honey, we're home! You're more likely to own a home and have some equity now, unless you live in a super-expensive and hip city, which is also cool. Either way, you know how to design and manage your optimal domestic scene.
  21. You know how to feed yourself. You know how to cook something by now. At the very least, you have family members, lovers, and/or friends who know how to cook.
  22. Staying in is the new going out. You no longer have to simulate the desire to go get faced on the weekend. I love this part about being a grownup. I have a cute kid and a hot date at home, every single evening, and DaddyMan knows how to cook. #NotSorry to miss that hangover.
  23. Regardless of your academic history, you're super educated about the things that truly interest you. Like Rammstein trivia, the history of indoor plumbing, and the worldly wisdom of YouTube drag stars Trixie and Katya. You have countless hours of internet clickhole spelunking under your belt.
  24. You get all the jokes on McSweeney's. Like this one discussing whether 35 is a good minimum age for the presidency. 
  25. You can officially run for president! Now there's a hot fantasy.
  26. You're old enough to remember when life was harder, and you're too young to have forgotten how subpar the "good old days" actually were. You can appreciate progress. Two words: dial-up internet.
  27. You know how to get along with your parents. And they're probably not super old yet.
  28. You've shifted from quantity to quality in your friendships. Christina agrees: "I feel like your 20s and early 30s, you are still gathering people into your life. You make space for a lot of love and care, but also drama, fights, and frustration. Now, I'm doing the more satisfying work of rooting people out. Or as Kelly Clarkson puts it, 'I've picked all my weeds and kept the flowers.'"
  29. You're a better friend to others, too. Christina continues, "I have more empathy for others, because I've lost some of the solipsism of my younger years."
  30. The people who love you think you're more interesting than ever now. Anyone who has ever loved you as a person--and hasn't simply been using you as another excuse to get faced on the weekend--thinks you are more interesting than ever before. Best friends and spouses and lovers don't get tired of each other when they change over time, they stay interested because they change over time. Now, having kids does make you legit boring to other adults for a few years, but that can happen at any age. And the fact that at least one small person thinks you are the greatest being to ever walk the earth helps make up for that.
  31. You know you're better than ever now. Your own skin has never felt more comfortable from the inside, regardless of what scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, and unfortunate tattoos you may have collected on the outside.
  32. Your sex life may have finally reached its peak. Avert your eyes, diaper babies. Survey says that experience and self-confidence are better aphrodisiacs than youth.
  33. Partly because other real grownups are hot. My husband has always had a thing for Mrs. Robinson, and I've always been distracted by leather-clad, bass-voiced beefcakes in their 50s. When I turn on the NPR station and hear Yanis Varoufakis, former Finance Minister of Greece and author of the aptly titled book Adults in the Room, talk about economics, I almost have to pull over the car. Oh God, the way he says "cah-pi-ta-lism." Is that a hot flash I'm feeling? 
  34. You can flirt with well seasoned hotties and it's not creepy. That tall pharmacist with the exotic accent? The bald tattoo guy across the convenience store counter? That polite construction worker, that crisply dressed banker in the grocery store line, that single DILF on the playground... The good ones feel comfortable subtly flirting with a fellow adult such as yourself. And if you're into the ladies, women in your cohort may be bolder about making the first move with you than ever before. See #31-33.
  35. You might be able to write a good novel now. I spent the first 15 years of young adulthood writing frivolous doggerel, which I feel has prepared me to write something actually good at this point. I've done years of historical research, practiced writing, read a lot of books, participated in novel-writing and critique groups, and taken many workshops on the strategies of crafting a narrative. I know there are genius prodigies who write bestsellers in their teens or twenties (ahem, Mary Shelley), but the great thing about creating art is that gets easier, not more difficult, as we mature.

So happy birthday to me! I will celebrate by waking up at 5:00 a.m. to work on my first really good novel, baking some skillet cornbread, going out to the salon with my supercool daughter, having dinner with my parents and brother, catching up on Mindy with two of my high school besties (including my husband), and going home with a handsome man of 36 who showers me with gifts of decadent bedroom wear such as large sweaters and poop emoji slippers.

What's your favorite thing about life after birthday 35?

Comments

  1. Im turning 35 in a month. This post was just what I needed to give me a positive outlook on it. Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never met a better 35-year-old in my life. Happy to have played a small part in it. BTW, 60 is the new 55!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Class bit of writing you have been gifted. Made me smile. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  4. I’m turning 35 and honestly I’m having trouble facing reality. I appear pretty young for my age but, being a single woman at 35 seems to pose pity from the rest of the people around me. I don’t have children and do not plan on it. Even in 2019, people are constantly judging because this is not the norm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well! You should show those folks in the cheap seats this article. ;)

      May you enjoy being attractive, healthy, child-free, and in charge of your own purpose in life.

      Delete
    2. Just read this and I will also be 35 in 2 months. Am single and glowing, nave never been more prettier without make-up. Planning a great photo shoot for my birthday because am proud of my body.

      Delete
  5. I just turned 35 on the 22nd of this month. This article is what I needed. I've been feeling low leading up to my birthday. I've been married 3 times and divorced twice. My current marriage has been rocky the past 3 years and I've been feeling at a loss and a bit of dread about turning 35. I should note that weve been married 7.5 years and he is 8 years my junior.

    This article helped some of my fears and it is nice to have another person's opinion about turning 35 and some experience and expectations from their end. Very well written ma'am.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm 37 now, and every year has been better than the last. Here's to greater wisdom and confidence. I don't think we're ever done growing up. I hope your next 35 years are the best yet!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

We Grew Up in the 2010s

We might be '80s babies, but my husband and I truly grew up in the 2010s. Consider this our decennial family Christmas letter.

Reviewing the main events of the 2010s has been kind of shocking for us, honestly. We feel very hashtag-blessed and whatnot, and if my 2009 self could time-travel to this very moment and take a look around my life, she'd have no idea about everything we've overcome. It just goes to show that resilience, hope, the-stuff-kids-call-self-care, and leaning into joy really do work. And that grandparents are essential.


First, I'll lay out the challenges we've faced since 2010. This is the brutal part. Then I'll list the joys and accomplishments that saw us through to this, our best year ever. Next week, I'll delve into my wishes and goals for the 2020s. But first...

the worst:
We racked up crushing debts. On top of our already substantial student loan debts, we added thousands of dollars of credit card debt making trips to Florida once or t…

Back to Belly Dance

Being an old millennial is weird. I still have acne, and I'm about to need bifocals. I'm still fit and at the low end of a healthy weight, but I have a new blerp of fat on my lower belly that's just my life now. My feet and my back and my hips are doing fine, but for how long? I have skeletal issues in all of those areas, and it's only by staying strong and supple that I avoid injuries and aches. For the sake of my overall health and my mood too, I've decided that now is a good time to get back into belly dance.

This art form is great for thin young people to show off their washboard abs, but it's also ideal for people of older ages and curvier body types, especially those of us with some jiggly bits to throw around. In belly dance, having a belly is an asset, not a problem to work off. Dance expert Dr. Valeria Lo Iacono gives solid reasons for loving belly dance as someone who only began learning it in her 30s.

I find that I'm usually more cheerful and en…

2020s Vision: Playgrounds, Not Prisons

To the tune of Green Day's "American Idiot":

Don't wanna live in an Instagram photograph!

But I do want to keep having fun using Instagram and every other dumb thing in life, so my personal vision statement for the 2020s is to turn everything I can into a playground, not a prison--my house, my yard, my thoughts, my diet, my budget, my creative practices, my relationships. Everything. By that I mean I want to live mindfully to get the most joy out of life, to create the most freedom within the circumstances I find myself in, to stay creative and flexible and adaptable in a changing world, and to avoid the traps of addiction and mindless habit that turn pleasures into chores.

I'm entering the 2020s with a crisp, clear new pair of rose gold glasses. Vision is something I don't take for granted. I've been wearing glasses since first grade and contact lenses since 6th, and I come from a long line of artists--painters, writers, composers. Nearsighted people wi…

TBT: Eat organic, local, vegan, raw, fresh superfood.

Happy Throwback Thursday! From now until I get tired of it, I am going to resurrect an old blog post from the 2000s and see how it holds up today.

This one is about my journey as a young adult from sickness to health as I figured out how to feed myself properly. I wrote it in a silly, humorous way, but I think we all know by now that eating well is a matter of life or death. Certainly it determines one's quality of life, and there isn't any way around it. There's no substitute for eating a well-balanced and varied diet in healthy amounts. There's no secret to it that any stupid fad diet will address. Paleo is passe, and keto is krap. Restrictive diets for weight loss should always be temporary and monitored by a healthcare professional. There are no shortcuts or workarounds. There aren't any vitamins or magic supplements that can make up for junk nutrition; in fact, most supplements are just more trash that further degrade health. There are so many scams out there …

$Monday: You can't afford a poor diet.

Nobody can. You've heard that "it's expensive to be poor." This is the gut-wrenching truth about eating poorly: real food costs a lot less than health care for preventable disease. So if you think you can't afford to eat well, it really means you can't afford to live. And that ain't right! While economic stress has a lot to do with access to healthy food, finding a way to eat well is the only way to avoid more poverty and a (probably shortened) life of suffering. The good news is that eating well is easier than our consumer culture--which feeds like a parasite off of the sick, poor, and tired--has led us to believe.


When I was in college, I had a classmate who nearly died (thereby wasting his college tuition!) when he attempted to save money by eating nothing but instant ramen. It's sort of a cliche or a joke in our culture to do that, because food is one of those expenses we obviously all have, and the grocery store is a place where we seem to have c…

TBT: Fast-Forward Fashion

This blast from the past is funny, because my personal style and shopping habits have evolved quite a bit since my 20s--in fact, full circle to the advice in the first paragraph I wrote, which I went on to reject at the time. In my 20s, I enjoyed extremely silly fashion. I'd look at Vogue magazines and then imitate designer looks in ridiculous ways. I tried to anticipate near-future trends, which I nailed in the first picture here, where I've "put a bird on it" before the meme was born. Yus! ...But.

Now that I am a fully fledged adult with a more relaxed budget, I hardly ever shop for clothes or accessories, not even at thrift shops, where I am now more afraid of picking up bugs. I still have a lot of clothes, but I rely heavily on swaps and hand-me-downs from friends and family. Occasionally I browse garage or church sales in communities I trust to sell clean garments. The world is now drowning in excess clothing, so it's easy to rake in quantities of barely-wor…

Someone Has to Do Nothing

Someone has to be home between the hours of 10 and 2 to accept the delivery. Someone has to be with the kids. Someone has to watch the neighbors' house while they are gone. Someone has to let the cat nap in their lap. Someone needs to chill out or keep it real or be more spontaneous, and that person must be unoccupied, or at least interruptable, for long stretches of time.

Someone has to look out of the window. Someone needs to notice when the sun rises and when the fireflies come out. Someone needs to remember to time the song of the cicadas so that we can measure the heat as it rises.

Someone has to rest. Someone has to be present. Someone has to pray or meditate or break the cycle of anxiety. Someone needs to laugh, and someone needs to watch this, y'all. And someone has to record it on their phone.

Someone has to listen. Someone has to think. Someone has to imagine what no one else has thunk up yet.


I spent my young adult life learning how to speak up and take action. I w…

Sparkles in the Dark

It's December in Michigan, when despite our distance from the Arctic Circle, we get about 10 minutes of direct sunlight spread out over 31 days. 'Tis a cloudy state, thanks to the embrace of the Great Lakes, and there isn't yet a thick blanket of glittery snow to reflect what light filters through. This season is great for building fires, snuggling on the couch with a mug of spiked cocoa and a disturbing foreign film (God help me, I'm not a Hallmark movie kind of lady), lighting one's home with chaotic tangles of string lights, and wearing glittery stuff in the daytime. This season brings out my latent maximalist.


Okay, maybe not latent so much as closeted. This is what the top of my dresser looks like at this very moment.

I'm feeling a 2020s home makeover coming for me that will involve a lot of dark, rich, and bold colors and luscious textures that glow or shine or glimmer in low lighting. I think that this will be a comfort and an inspiration to me. I want t…

Green Therapy Is the New Black Friday

At the risk of sounding like Calvin's dad, it sure feels good to walk off the turkey with a brisk nature hike. Woodlands, parks, and waterfronts are peaceful on Black Friday, when everyone else is playing bumper cars on the icy roads, bludgeoning each other with Nintendo Switches, or crouching indoors behind a screen to troll for great deals on the mountains of junk that sometimes keel over and crush people in Amazon warehouses.

If your weather outside is frightful, however, you may wish to stay inside until the latest storm passes. I recommend building a fire in case the power goes out--and if it doesn't, switch on your best reading light and curl up nearby with a stack of library books. I'm all stocked up with some marvelous finds of my own.


I also have a few other entertainment recommendations for the start of cuffing season. It has now been a nice, round 20 years since the prophetic music video for "Sleep Now in the Fire" by Rage Against the Machine. Pogo l…