Last night I went out for a date with my husband and, as usual, was carded. I had forgotten my wallet and the server asked me for my birth date and then for my age. I stumbled a little bit over my words as I said hesitantly, “almost 34?” She rolled her eyes at me briefly before bringing my drink. I guess I just seemed too senile to worry about after that lame response.
When I stopped to think about it though, I realized I am actually soon to be 35 – a birthday that should be spectacularly easy to remember given that I was born in ’80 – a nice even number to add up with.
But it’s just simply so hard to imagine that I am almost 35. Thirty-five year olds are grown women with families and careers and some grey hairs and love handles and a lot of worries. (Well, I guess it mostly fits. Minus the career.) But really I still just feel like the too-young-for-this-life-thing person I have always been. Went to college at 15, married at 18, gave birth at 19. I’ve always kept busy hiding my age and trying to pretend I’m older and more grown up than I really am. Now that I’m at a perfectly acceptable age, I suddenly feel like a fraud. Like I can’t possibly be that old. Wasn’t I supposed to have my shit together by now?
So this is a confession blog post. I am almost 35. I do have love handles, one silver hair at my temple (I actually really like it), and a beautiful family. I don’t have my shit together. I’ve finally grown up enough that I don’t have to hide my age anymore. I almost fit in with the other moms on the playground. Until they find out I have a teenager at home. And yet I still feel like a fraud. First I was an old soul in a too-young body. Now I’m a regressed-to-teenagerhood mother of three in a body that is probably just exactly thirty-five. Maybe that’s just me, always a little out of sync.
But this isn’t just a confession of all the ways I don’t quite fit in. This is a confession of where I am. Me. Annelise. At almost 35. I am so much farther than I ever knew I would be. And so much less-far than I imagined. I am so much more perfectly imperfect than I ever realized I would be by this ripe “middle aged” 35 I have almost attained.
- I realize that words are how I breath. I understand that I receive love through words, I give love through words, and I process my pain and the pain of the world through words. Words are my currency.
- I finally understand that no one can offer me leadership or take it away. A leader is simply who I am.
- I recognize that my earliest dreams still offer me the best clues to where I am headed in life. I am crazy for other worlds and experiences and cultures. I long to hear story, to tell story, to live a great big beautiful story. I am a traveler, a counselor, a journalist and an influencer.
- I am ready for more risk. Yes, let me get that tattoo. But more than that, let me be brave enough to love my husband with all my heart, to walk away from my kids needs a little more often. Brave enough to bungy jump, yes. But also brave enough to conquer one little skill at a time, brave enough for a schedule, brave enough to say the things I really feel. Out loud. To a room full of people.
- I finally understand a little bit better how beautiful I really am. During the excruciating teenage years all I could think about was getting a nose job and getting rid of my excess body hair. When my husband told me how much he really liked my nose I was grateful but suspicious. Isn’t this sort of like your mother telling you you’re beautiful? Now I look into the mirror at my bright, deep eyes and my lopsided smile, made crooked by the six hour surgery that finally did remove that unsightly (and dangerous) lump in my neck. When I look in the mirror now I still see my too-big pores and my skin scarred from acne but shining so much stronger is the bravery, the strength and the wisdom that have brought me here. And now I can finally see I’m beautiful. That’s priceless.
- I know that while I’m particularly good at certain things, I can become good at almost anything I set my mind to. I’ve learned to just start trying. To pick up a charcoal pencil and sketch. To open up the old sewing machine and stitch a little. I’ve learned that there is an “annelise” way of doing almost everything from quilting to cooking to writing to sportsing (as we less-athletic people sometimes refer to it). Now I look at each unaccomplished thing around me as an opportunity. Soon I will learn to keep succulents alive. Soon I will build myself that chicken coop I have dreamed about. Soon I will begin rock climbing. Soon I will make sushi from scratch.
I hesitate to finish this list. There is so much more to say.
I have so much more learning to do. So much more growing. I am still afraid so much more often than I want to be. I still lack courage in some of the areas where I most want it. I still worry far too often about what others think. I still silence myself instead of speaking. I still find it very hard to trust others. I am still too critical. I still find it easier to notice what is wrong than what is right. It’s still easier to complain than it is to be thankful.
But here I am. Almost – 35. On a journey. Beautiful. Kind. Good. Compassionate. Inspiring. Creative. Brave.