I am 36 years old today.
I’m typically not one to shy away or feel self conscious about my age...that is until this year. Turning 36 has had me feeling unsettled. 35 didn’t sit so well either. I’ve gone back and forth on whether I would even share how old I’m turning, but I’ve vowed in the past (to myself) that I would never hide my age. So, here I am being vulnerable. 36 makes me feel not so young anymore and I know that may sound silly to some, especially because age is relative. It’s just a number “they” say. You might roll your eyes because on the age spectrum I’m still considered on the young side.
Photo by Annie Spratt - @anniespratt But you need to understand, I have loved being and feeling young. Even my early 30s I embraced with gusto! I have savoured my youth like a fine wine that you drink slowly with appreciation. It has dawned on me that I’m not far from 40 (although, I feel a lot more like 26 than I do anywhere near 40). I pride myself on the fact that many people (friends and strangers) have told me that I look like I’m in my mid 20s. While half of looking young is somewhat up to me (i.e. what I eat, my skincare routine, physical activity, avoiding unhealthy things such as drugs or wearing too much makeup, etc), the other half is out of my control (i.e. genes). But, why do I have this deep seeded desire to hold onto my youth, which is slipping away? Is it because society celebrates the young? Is it because I fear that I will lose opportunities the older I get? Am I scared I will stay stuck with certain dreams unfulfilled? Is it because I’m sad to see my body change and experience more difficulties?
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez - @priscilladupreez My answer is yes to all of the above. My metabolism has slowed down since I turned 30, I have love handles now and I can’t just eat whatever I want and expect there not to be weight gain anymore. I have had constant back pain in my 30s that I never did in my 20s. Many of the romantic comedies on screen are with young actors about young love. But young love was not my story and even though I’m at peace with perhaps never marrying, Hollywood doesn’t exactly create many films that celebrate older people falling in love. I fear that if I ever move anywhere else it would be harder to get a new job now than it was at 22. I wish I would have lived and taught in Spain, but the program that my sister did caps at 35 years of age.
Like I said, I have peace if I never marry. I am even more okay with never having biological children. I don’t lose sleep over my biological clock ticking. I once told a friend over lattes and donuts that I didn’t know if I would ever be a mother and I think she thought I was in mourning over this possibility. I wasn’t. She went on to provide different ways that I could mother and I didn’t correct her because she’s a mother and I was scared of offending her. For many women that is their biggest dream. For me, it never has been.
I digress. Recently, my uncle Mario asked me over the phone how old I was turning and as I was expressing my struggle with it, I suddenly stopped. His wife who is in her early 60s is fighting for her life. She has pancreatic cancer and is doing many rounds of chemo & radiation. My uncle was being sweet and pointing out that I was still young when I blurted out, “but I’m grateful for another year of life!”
I truly am. I follow a God who uses the young, old and everyone in between. There are countless examples spread throughout the Bible. So, instead of lamenting turning 36, I will thank my God for the breath he has given me to live another day and celebrate another year of life. May he use me even more the older I get and may my life give him increasing glory with each year that passes.
Photo by Greg Shield - @gregshield “Leaves grow old gracefully, bring such joy in their last lingering days. How vibrant and bright is their final flurry of life.”
― Karen Gibbs