You female readers out there who are smack dab in the middle of your 30s, or who can see it from your rear-view mirror – or even those of you who watch it looming ahead – you know what it feels like to be somewhat in limbo.
I recently celebrated a birthday and was surprised to hear so many women near my own age complaining about it. I have been thinking about it and, aside from the typical “getting older” (sigh) bit, I may have figured out why.
I had to really think about it because I don’t mind being out of my twenties. Yes, they were fun, and so many great things like having a child and various jobs I liked happened, but they were exhausting too! Not that the pace of my life has slowed down – in fact, it has sped up like the Dixie Speedway when NASCAR is in town – the marching steps are just moving in a different direction. Away from the bars and clubs and “fun” (and sometimes, it really was) and more and more towards the never-ending demands of a family.
But I digress. As usual. So, anyway, I think the reason women these days are resenting their 30s could be that it’s a time of uncertainty. Ten years ago, women absolutely fell apart when they hit 30. For some reason, it was like life was over. Although, and I’m not trying to be dirty here, or irreverent, but simply stating a fact: women reach their sexual peak in their 30s. So how bad could it be? Yes, conceiving a child becomes more problematic once you pass 35, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference other than that.
I’m updating this post because I was reminded of what Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote about it in Gift from the Sea. (I know. I over-quote this woman. But she’s brilliant and this book was genius.) She wrote that we have to recreate ourselves every twenty years or so. Totally right. Think about it.
At twenty, we are either about to leave college or working, or getting married, but we are also nearing our quarter-life crisis (John Mayer gets it). For those of you who didn’t know what it was when it hit: it’s when you realize your parents really don’t know everything,and if they don’t, how can you? You have discovered that your youthful arrogance was just that – not true knowledge. It is very disorienting and depressing.
And then we hit forty. We’re feeling more comfortable in our skin (although we might not be there totally) but we’re dealing with older children and usually a fast-paced life. At sixty, the kids are long gone. Menopause is over and many of us are facing mortality in a new way.
Lindbergh was right! Now, however, 40 is the new 30. So women are doing their thing, going lippity-lippity, and all of a sudden it hits them: what does happen when I hit 40? Y’all are gonna have to tell me, because I personally count each year as a blessing. I was briefly deterred on my birthday outings and felt sorry for those women who were bemoaning their fates. The one thing I look forward to the most is the wisdom that comes with age. Not so the indignity of it, which is one thing I do dread, but the knowing how stupid it was to worry about the things you used to worry about and knowing you can just relax your grip on yourself.