It has lately come to my attention that I am 36 years old. The world, it would seem, would have me believe that I am older than that.
People love to remind women of their age. To warn us. To remind us of our place. So we don’t get ahead of ourselves by dreaming too much in near-to-middle age.
I have to admit, it still annoys me, because I like to see people step out of the common thinking space and consider new and refreshing ways of looking at the world.
I have a secret. I welcome 36. I am 36.5, actually. I am a Cancer, something else people often are disgusted by because of our bad reputation.
To use a recently somewhat-overused phrase: I am leaning into 36. I would not want to be 26 anymore, 26 was a bitch. I didn’t know where I was going, who I was, what I actually wanted from the world. I didn’t really know how to cherish life or those around me yet.
You need the natural beauty you have in your 20s. Some days, it is what keeps other people from ostracizing you completely as you make your way through a well-worn world.
I have a certain mature look at 36. I had the same mature look at 13, so I really experienced what it was like to look like I was in my 20s when I was still a kid. Weird, for sure.
I look more mature at 36 than I did at 26, sure, but I have bettered myself so much along the way that it is damn well worth it.
I am getting a grip on my life, and I am not letting go.
This does not mean I want 20-somethings to feel bad. They have endless promise, natural beauty and the world’s admiration to bolster them. I know they will be fine, they will be better than fine, they will be fantastic.
This is my love letter to my fellow older-than-26s. I see you, 45 and 55. I will be you.
Better yet, I welcome you.
I don’t have it all figured out. I won’t in 10 years, either, because life is always changing. That is a blessing. What I do have, though, is an ever-increasing awareness of something larger than myself making this world turn, throwing the dice.
I have a sense that both everything and nothing matters at the same time. There is a meditation exercise I love to do, it’s one of my favorites–I imagine my current self sitting in a room with a chair on either side of me. First, I look into the mirror before me, and I call my past self, 10 years ago, to walk through. I tell her all of the things I think she would want to know, and I consider how much we have changed.
Then, I call my future self, 10 years from now, to step through and take the other chair. She always has cool beads on her wrist, she is in excellent shape, and she kept our hair long and highlighted. She looks at me like she knows what’s coming and she smiles. She somehow looks both sad and happy at the same time. She is someone I would trust, and she is everything I want to be. She has more lines on her face than I do, and somewhere along the line we developed a tan, but she’s definitely me. When I ask her what is her best advice, she often says “Be yourself.” It’s all she can say. I’m pretty sure that’s all I said to my past self when we would meet, years ago.
I have every opportunity to become that woman, and I look forward to it. I am honored to have her in my future, my self in the present and that neurotic 26-year-old in my past (God Bless her, she made it this far).
To hold the concept of three selves in your mind at once is much like holding contradictory ideas in your mind simultaneously to achieve zen during meditation. It is like considering the idea that everything and nothing matters at the same time. They are my three Fates, and they are my path to knowing peace.
They are everything, and they are nothing, at once.
In love and light,