What goes around

At 26 years old, I was fresh-faced and single and lived in a charming flat in a trendy part of town. I’d graduated from college, had a promising marketing job and knew even then, that my future was a blank slate. Though I had no kids, I complained about my “tummy” (geesh!). Despite always wanting to lose a few pounds, I remember feeling great. I felt so energetic and alive.

One day at the office, a few of my co-workers and I were chatting about our lives. We were all young women, without kids, whose conversations were dominated by discussions of men, fashion and what low-fat, no-fat concoction we’d eaten for dinner the night before. The talk turned to our ages. We went around the horn, stating our how old we were. Everyone was in their mid- to late-twenties, except for one woman who was 35.

“Thirty-five?!?” I blurted. “You’re 35? NO WAY!”

I said it with a tone of incredulousness – like it was a compliment that she looked so young and hip despite being so very, very old. She was so cool and fabulous-looking, it seemed impossible she could be 35.

“Wow,” I concluded. “I hope that when I’m 35, I look half as great as you do.”


I work in a different office now. I’m still in marketing and still congregate around the coffee machine talking about men, clothes and low-fat recipes. But one thing’s different: I’m 35.

Last week as we sipped our coffee, the conversation turned to our ages. At this office, the age differences are greater. There are quite a few silver-haired folks with kids in college, there’s me and then there’s a tall, beautiful blonde who is – you guessed it – 26.
When I told the group I’d just turned 35, the blonde blurted out,

You’re 35? NO WAY!”

She delivered it the exact same way I had so many years before. It was meant as a compliment – and I knew it – but on the receiving end, it didn’t exactly feel like one.

Since turning 35, a few things have changed. For one, my doctor suggests running different kinds of tests because I’m now in a higher-risk age group for various conditions and ailments. The morning after a bike ride is spent easing sore muscles and walking bow-legged. The hair dye I used to use to turn my dull, brown into a shimmering chestnut is now applied to cover several noticeable grays.

Still, all that considered, I really do feel great. While my body is different (three kids’ll do that to you), I feel more comfortable in my skin. I’m happier, more confident.

I still feel like my future is a blank slate, but I think the biggest difference is that I now know better what I want out of life. At 26, I didn’t have tremendous expectations of my future because I wasn’t seasoned enough to know what I really wanted. But now, my expectations are greater. My dreams are better defined. My goals have shape and the path to get there is clearer.

Thirty-five is a gift. It’s an opportunity to stop and reflect on where you've been and think about where you want to go from here.

When I was 26, I was living on my own. I remember being so proud at the life I’d created for myself. I felt successful, responsible and independent.

Today, I’m full of even more pride. I’m still supporting myself and now, three kids. While it can be overwhelming at times, mostly I feel independent and capable at doing it all, alone no less.

Thirty-five isn’t all that different than 26. Both still think about men, clothes and ways to lose 10 lbs. But 35 has a leg up on 26. Thirty-five is wiser and is better equipped to get what she wants. My 35 is better than my 26 was. It’s fuller, richer and all around better – even without that flat tummy.

“From birth to age 18, a girl needs good parents, from 18 to 35 she needs good looks, from 35 to 55 she needs a good personality, and from 55 on she needs cash.”

- Sophie Tucker